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Two Goodies and three K8s...
Are there any K8's out there?
There are only 12 left in the country and four of them can be spotted in Swindon....
In the 1960s there were 11,000 of them up and down the country.† Now, less than 40 years on, their numbers have dwindled to just 12… most of which are to be found in Swindon.
The plight of the K8
Despite its iconic status the UK's red phone-box has always been a bit of an endangered species.† In the 1980's it was Giles Gilbert Scott's classic model that was only just rescued from extinction by a hard fought campaign to get 3,000 of them listed.† This time around and it's Kiosk 8, aka K8, that is on the point of disappearing off the face of... well… England.
The modern version of the 'classic' red phone box
Introduced to the streets of Britain in 1968, at the height of the swinging sixties, the K8 was 'hailed as a masterpiece of industrial design’.† The winning entry in the GPO's design a phone booth competition, the K8 was Bruce Martin's take on 'the most complex brief ever issued for a piece of street furniture'.
Vandal-proof, weather-proof and easy to maintain it not only boasted a distinctively lit-up roof light and greenhouse like floor-to-roof glass panels but was even redder than its predecessor.
By 1968, over 11,000 of the red cast iron phone boxes had hit the streets… but less than 40 years on and just 12 remain in working order (actually meant remain as working phone boxes) and a third of them are to be found in Swindon.
Too young to be saved
With the future looking less than bright… the Twentieth Century Society, a group with all things modern and architectural at heart, have stepped in to try and save them from extinction:
"It represents the final stage in the lineage of a design that has become nothing short of a global icon, a symbol of Britain," it says.
...another sighting of the endangered phone box...
"It should have been the modern equivalent of the 1930's K6.† But when BT began de-commissioning boxes†in 1984 - K8's were the first in the firing line and at the time, were too young to be protected by English Heritage's 30 year listing rule."
But they're not too young now.† In fact all 12 survivors, including the four in Swindon, have been submitted to English Heritage in the hope of bagging them a listed status.
Plus, in an effort to save as many as they can, the society has also launched a nationwide search for any undiscovered K8's out there.
So, as the newly adopted home of the most surviving K8's, we also want to know… Are there any K8's out there?† If so, let us know…
last updated: 09/05/2008 at 10:39
Have Your Say
Jon Wright (C20 Caseworker)
John Cronk Avebury