United Kingdom

British Telephone Boxes and Payphones (mainly BT Payphones)

Coming to a street new you (in London) new BT LinkUK interactive kiosk LinkUK from BT interactive kiosk with free WI-FI BT LinkUK kiosk features two 139.7cm HD displays for digital advertising New BT LinkUK launched October 25th 2016

Coming to a street new you (in London) new BT LinkUK interactive kiosk.

LinkUK from BT interactive kiosk with free WI-FI.

BT LinkUK kiosk features two 139.7cm HD displays for digital advertising.

New BT LinkUK interactive kiosks launched October 25th 2016.

K6 telephone box with missing bar and glass panels K6 telephone box with missing glass panels K2 telephone box covered in graffti and with missing glass panels. K2 telephone box covered in graffti

K6 telephone kiosk with missing bar and glass panels.

K6 telephone box with missing glass panels.

K2 telephone box covered in graffti and with missing glass panels.

K2 telephone box covered in graffti.

No dial tone K2 kiosk with many panels of missing glass Cashless Telephone 800 payphone Poor state inside K2 kiosk

No dial tone.

K2 kiosk with many panels of missing glass.

Cashless Telephone 800 payphone.

Poor state inside K2 kiosk.

Four decomissioned BT telephone kiosks sitting empty and ready for removal on Peterborough train station Red 'BT' and black 'New World Payphone' K6 telephone box side by side in London K2 telephone kiosk in London, near Parliament square and the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben K6 telephone kiosk at Blackheath with caller inside

Four decomissioned BT telephone kiosks sitting empty and ready for removal on Peterborough train station.

Red 'BT' and black 'New World Payphone' K6 telephone box side by side in London.

K2 telephone kiosk in London, near Parliament square and the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

K6 telephone kiosk at Blackheath with caller inside.

KX300 BT Telephone Kiosk uk-phonebooth2.jpg (97146 bytes) K6 Kiosk in Bath
uk.jpg (13583 bytes) UK-surrey.jpg (29808 bytes) K6- the "Jubilee" kiosk BT Payphone 2000 Paddington Station

Oh and here's one I've actually seen - this is in the centre of Kingston in Surrey - home of bad nightclubs and alcopops... Kate Laird

The kiosks were recently restored by Unicorn Kiosks restored the famous 'Tumbling Telephones' sculpture in Kingston upon Thames. The sculpture is a line of twelve kiosks leaning against one another on edge.The sculpture by David Mach is properly called 'Out of Order' and had suffered from vandalism. We stripped the paintback to the metal and welded the breaks. After painting we fitted new handles and Telephone signs.The sculpture was officially re-opened by the Mayor of Kingston.

UK-ymcabird.jpg (21385 bytes) UK-phonebox.jpg (68404 bytes) uk-te_bt.jpg (41480 bytes) UK-skye05.jpg (24766 bytes)
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A new internet kiosk with a British GPT Marconi Neptune in it. Thanks to Davy in Newcastle for the image!
KX300 BT Payphones in Bath UK999.jpg (78777 bytes) UK-firework.jpg (34823 bytes)

KX300 BT Payphones in Bath: one payphone accepts coins (red), while the other payphone (green) accepts BT Phonecards.

Somebody dial 999! Destroyed with a very powerful firework (a pipe bomb?) Chancellor Square, Canary Wharf. Special thanks to Rob Ore at www.redphonebox.info 
uk9.jpg (20694 bytes) Text and Email Payphone and housing UK-phonbox.jpg (27194 bytes) Police call box in Blackfriars
  Internet Kiosk (with Marconi phone)

Police call box in Blackfriars

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An unusual phonebox in Portmeirion, Wales. Sent in by ablarc in Scotland.

British Telephone Boxes and Payphones continued... (non BT Payphones)

uk-F.jpg (73514 bytes) uk-Geo-telephone-kiosk-1.jpg (35140 bytes) uk-buildings-payphones-114_2.jpg (26282 bytes)
A non-BT kiosk with a British GPT Marconi Sapphire in it
uk-buildings-payphones-115_2.jpg (29783 bytes) UK-GLASGOW.jpg (33910 bytes) Payphone and internet kiosk in Gatwick airport Infocus kiosk near St Pauls
meanwhile in Glasgow....an interesting Inter-Phone IPM Italy payphone

Payphone and internet kiosk in Gatwick airport

Infocus kiosk near St Pauls, London

British Payphones

BT Payphone 2000 Paddington BT Payphones Eurostar Departure Lounge Old style BT Multiphone  - click for larger image New Marconi BT Internet Kiosk Phone  - click for larger image

BT Payphone 2000 Paddington

BT Payphone 2000's in the Eurostar departure lounge

BT Multiphone (Tatung, Taiwan) Marconi Neptune 800 BT Payphone
BT Payphone 2000 GPT Marconi Sapphire in a BT KX100 kiosk uk-B.jpg (64546 bytes)
The standard - British GPT Marconi Sapphire in a BT KX100 kiosk. Pub phone - thanks to Davy in Newcastle for the image.
uk-schlumberger.jpg (78967 bytes) uk-standard0.jpg (17106 bytes) uk-tate.jpg (12123 bytes)
French Schlumberger British GPT Marconi Sapphire In the Tate. Marconi Neptune 800
uk-ik.jpg (44887 bytes) uk-multimedia9.jpg (20373 bytes) uk-multimedia5.jpg (17035 bytes) uk-multimedia2.jpg (14228 bytes)
British GPT Marconi Neptune As big as a fridge!!! Nice finish
uk-london.jpg (184936 bytes) uk-InterPhone1.jpg (28759 bytes) uk-InterPhone2.jpg (23824 bytes) uk-phonebooth.jpg (34163 bytes)
And the Interphone!! What a great machine!! (IPM Italy payphone)
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British Coin Telephone 800 with typical phone-box ads. French Schlumberger

Coin-Box A-B Coin Box A-B Coin Box bcc700.jpg (8786 bytes)
A and B Button Box Coin Telephone 700 (1971)

bcc705.jpg (4423 bytes) 705 Payphone [Courtesy of Andy Harris] Payphone
Coin Telephone 705 Coin Telephone 735 BCC 705 725 TYPE

Payphone PhoneCard Payphone 24A Coin Telephone
Coin Telephone 23 Coin Telephone 22B Phonecard (Switzerland: Landis and Gyr) Coin Telephone 600

'Moneybox' Moneymate Contour 50 Payphone Payphone 190
CT6000 "Moneybox"   CT28A "Moneymate"   Contour 50    Payphone 190 (CT7000)  

uk-ct200.jpg (53416 bytes) Payphone 390 Payphone 490 Payphone 500
Payphone 200 Mk.II   Payphone 390+   Payphone 490+   Payphone 500 (CT25A)

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Agifon British Coin Telephone 600

uk-ct600-2.jpg (72473 bytes) BT Contour 50
British Coin Telephone 800 BT Contour series


K6 sited on Isle of Foula, Scotland


This one's nearer to Iceland than it is to London.
Kiosk installed in 1956 and never painted since hence the delicate shade of pink!.
Button A/B box working here until 1994.
Both the old telephone exchange (The BT's last public electro-mechanical exchange) and the A/B box preserved by myself (Ian)!
It is the only A/B box that I have seen which takes the old 5p and 10 p pieces (other UK decimal A/B boxes take 2p and old 10p pieces).

Ordnance Survey Grid Reference HT 969389
Latitude 60 deg 8 minutes North - Longtitude 2 deg 3 minutes East.

K6 on the remote island of Canna in Hebrides  


Phone number was originally "Canna 20X" and later "Mallaig 2460"
but is now "+441687462460".
The telephone exchange on Canna only has 12 telephones on it in the range "46246X" and "46247X" - the population is about 15.
A/B box in use here until July 1994.
Exchange and A/B box preserved by myself (Ian).

1926 K1 type kiosk - Crich Tramway Museum, Derbyshire


The last A/B box still working on the public telephone network.
It's located in a 1926 K1 type kiosk.
Telephone number is an Ambergate telephone number.
Ambergate was the first production TXE2 electronic exchange in the GPO public network back in the 1960's!

History of the telephone box in the UK

The history of the public telephone actually begins in the late 1880's but it was not until the early 1900's that telephone kiosks started to appear. All telephone kiosks mentioned e.g. K6 in the article below can be seen by scrolling further down this page.

Many early kiosks were silence cabinets and inside shops and other public places and had attendants who would do most of the work for you. Of the street kiosks, there were many different designs, often localised to specific towns, Birmingham and Norwich each producing their own designs.

In 1921, the first standard kiosk would appear, the Kiosk 1 or more simply named 'K1'. It was adapted from the Birmingham model and would later be redesigned with a different window frame. Many places would only have the kiosks in their own colours and in some cases, modifications were made to boxes.

In 1923, the GPO held a competition to design a new kiosk. Several designs from companies and architects were entered. In 1926 the chosen design appeared, Giles Gilbert Scott's K2. The new design had one feature that would become fluent in the telephone box, a domed roof. It is said that the idea came from a lantern at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. The K2 was too big and too expensive for mass production so the K1 Mk 236 was introduced in 1927 and produced throughout the country.

The GPO still wanted a new design and asked Sir Giles to produce another design, in 1929 the K3 appeared, a smaller, concrete version of the K2. The kiosk was a success with 12,000 appearing over the country.

Introduced in 1927, the K4 was intended to be a 24 hour post office with a stamp machine and letter box added to the back of what looked like a stretched K2. It was nicknamed the 'Vermillion Giant' and was a fantastic failure. Only 50 were produced.

In 1934, the K5 was produced, made of plywood as a temporary kiosks for use at exhibitions and fairs etc. It was only very recently that this was discovered and it is not known if any originals still survive as the one pictured left is a mockup from the original designs.

With the K3's still at large and problems occurring with them, a new cast iron box was needed, and in 1936 the K6 appeared for the first time on the streets. The kiosk was perfect, it had all the good points of the K1 and K3 mixed with the solidness of the K2 and most importantly, the small size and elegance the General Post Office (GPO) were looking for. It did have vandal problems though, so in 1939 a Mk 2 design came out with improved features to make them less of an easy target for the vandal.

The K6 was widely used to replace K1 and K3 and by the end of production, there were nearly 70,000 K6 telephone boxes in Great Britain. Many areas didn't approve of the red and so were allowed to paint them in alternative colour schemes (although these days, most of them have been returned to red!).

Going into the 1960's the GPO were considering a new design. Nevill Conder's design for a K7 was chosen. It was made in aluminium and was tested in 1962. However, the K7 was not adopted as a new design and only five were made.

In 1965, another competition was held to design a new kiosk, the K8. Bruce Martin who died on the 22nd April 2015 (aged 97) was the winning architect and his design appeared in 1968. It was a very new design to the previous ones. The main differences were that the glazing bars had gone to be replaced with just one large window or pane of glass on each side of the kiosk and the domed roof was replaced with a much flatter design.

Nearly 4,000 K8's would appear, some of which replaced K6's. Things were still to change, over the next few years many different designs of telephone kiosk were considered but none chosen as kiosks for the country.

In 1985, the most radical change was to happen, British Telecom (BT) announced there would be a major improvement to the public telephone service and introduced the 'KX' range. A selection of new designs that were to be the most perfect telephone kiosks you could imagine.

The most commonly used design was the KX100 which was the kiosk design but also introduced were the KX200, a hooded unit, the KX300, a triangular unit designed to be used in groups and the KX410 and 420, phones on posts.

Nobody could deny the functionality of the designs as their main objectives were there, easy for disabled people to use, very easy to maintain, etc. However, while functional the attractiveness of the design (compared to earlier kiosks) just wasn't there.

In the late 1990's, BT made an attempt to win the public over to the KX range by introducing the KXPlus. The KXPlus is basically a KX100 with a red bar round the sides and a doomed red roof. The K6 was widely replaced with KXs and there was much uproar at the loss of the classic kiosk. Today, many places are being reunited with K6's as a scheme mainly in the mid to late 1990's to reinstall the kiosks took place.

Another factor in the story of the telephone box is that particularly in the mid to late 1990's, several companies challenged BT's telephone boxes by bringing out their own new and perfect kiosks and more recently, with the popularity of the mobile phone. Public telephone kiosks are becoming increasingly redundant and many are being removed altogether by BT. BT's KXPlus range started to appear in blue with Broadband access in them which could be the last throw of the dice to save the telephone box?

In 2007, BT unveiled the first new payphone design in 20 years. Developed in conjunction with advertising firm JCDecaux, the payphone named 'Street Talk 6' is an open kiosk with the payphone on one side and six scrolling advertisements on the other. BT hopes the paid for advertisements will help offset falling revenue from the payphones themselves.

BT Street Talk 6

Many tried hard, but never got close to designing a kiosk that would become worldly recognised and used on countless items of London merchandise and treasured garden ornaments etc... as Sir Giles Gilbert Scott did with his K6 design.

It has been announced that BT is to replace many phone boxes with LinkUK kiosks (pictured right). The new koisk may be in response to Clear Channel's New World kiosk?

BT's existing telephone kiosks are becoming very run down and this is the solution double sets of kiosks which are unnecessary and also a money saving option for replacing aging payphones with new ones.

There will still be traditional payphones around for many years as it is a requirement, the new interactive kiosks do not meet the universal obligations for providing payphones.

There will also be continued rationing of the BT payphone estate, around 200 payphones are under threat in rural Shropshire, 300-500 kiosks across rural and some urban parts of Scotland and around half of the kiosks in Wales, and many kiosks in Cumbria. So around 2,000-4,000 could be removed within a year.

I keep requesting they introduce new payphones that are more user friendly and cost effective for making calls using credit and debit cards and try and have contactless payment. That way they can phase out cash calls completely and the remaining kiosks would be replaced with the new linkUK kiosks which offer free calls and WiFi anyway.

Theft and stuffing of the coin chute is a big problem with coin phones and loses a lot of money and also puts customers in an awkward position in not being able to make a call and usually people use payphones nowadays for emergency situations.

LinkUK from BT Key Features:

1. Connect to free ultrafast Wi-Fi using your personal device.

2. Access maps, directions, and city services from an easy-to-use touchscreen tablet.

3. Stay in touch with free phone calls from BT.

4. Press the dedicated red 999 button in the event of an emergency.

5. Safely charge your device using one of two USB ports.

6. Enjoy more room on the pavement with Link's sleek, resilient design.

7. View public service announcements and more relevant advertising on two 135.7cm HD displays.

Read more about the new BT LinkUK interactive kiosks

UK telephone kiosks - K1 to KXPlus

K1 Mk 236 K2 K3 K4

K5 K6 K7 K8

KX100 KX200 KX300 KX410

KX420 KXPlus LinkUK from BT
Special thanks to Rob Ore of www.redphonebox.info 


Public Call Boxes (PCB) in the UK

Public payphones
A consultation document issued by the Director
General of Telecommunications
14 November 2001

-There are currently more than 97,000 PCBs in the UK together with more
than 58,500 operator-managed payphones (payphones that look very similar to
PCBs but which are located on private land). This is almost double the number in
place in 1984 when BT was privatised, and compares favourably with comparable
EU Member States.
-However, increased ownership of mobile phones has had a significant impact
on the level of usage of PCBs. This has in turn affected PCB revenues – BT’s PCB
revenues declined by forty per cent in the period 1999-2001 and Kingston
Communications’ PCB revenues declined by ten per cent per annum during that
same period.

The current payphone market
-There are two main categories of payphone which have been identified for
regulatory purposes in the UK. These are PCBs which are situated on public land,
and private payphones which are situated on private land.
-Within the general term private payphones there exist two sub-divisions:
telecom operator managed payphones (which look very much like PCBs but which
are situated on private land such as railway stations and motorway service
stations); and independent private payphones (operated by individuals such as
publicans or landlords of rented accommodation). Annex C sets out in more detail
the regulatory requirements of the different types of payphone operating in the UK.
-The focus of this consultation document is PCBs together with telecom
operator-managed payphones (‘managed payphones’).
PCB provision across the UK
-Following the first phase of UK telecommunications liberalisation in 1984, a
substantial programme of new PCB installations was carried out in the 1980s to
mid-1990s. During that period demand for PCBs was still strong, especially in
urban and suburban areas. In that period BT installed almost 17,000 new PCBs
and the new market entrants installed more than 2,500. This was largely
commercially motivated rather than the result of any need to increase coverage
due to the universal service obligation.
-Current provision can be summarised as follows:
• there are now more than 155,000 PCBs and managed payphones in the UK,
whereas in 1984 there were approximately 77,000;
• there are approximately 97,000 PCBs in the UK for a population of 60
• more than ninety-five per cent of BT’s payphones are in good working order
at any given time, whereas in 1984 the figure was seventy-six per cent;
• more than 140 new PCBs over and above those installed on commercial
grounds have been installed by BT under the social need criteria agreed
with Oftel in 1997; and
• the number of PCBs in the UK allowing dual payment by coin in addition to
card (‘multi-format payment option PCBs’) is higher than in many EU
Member States. Where more than one PCB is located at a site it is more
likely than not that dual payment options will be available.

Companies operating PCBs in the UK
-There are currently four companies in the UK which provide PCB services.
These companies are:
Company Number of PCBs
BT 94,000
Kingston Communications 478*
NWP Communications 1,000
Infolines-premier 1,673
* All located within the Kingston-upon-Hull area.
BT and Kingston Communications are both subject to universal service obligations
(BT across the whole of the UK with the exception of the Kingston area, and
Kingston Communications only within the Kingston area).
-The regional split of BT’s PCBs is broadly as follows:
Area Number of PCBs
Greater London 15,000
Large cities 16,000
Small cities/large towns 16,000
Towns 17,000
Rural 30,000
-NWP Communications and Infolines-premier are not subject to universal
service obligations and may therefore install PCBs at locations of choice, subject
to local planning approval. In practice this means that most of their PCBs are
located in urban or suburban areas.
Companies operating managed payphones in the UK
-Not all companies engaged in payphone provision are individually licensed
and some, for example, operate under what is termed a class licence which does
not require any pre-notification or registration. From the information available to
Oftel there are approximately 58,500 managed payphones in the UK, although it is
possible that there are more. The following list represents the companies of which
Oftel is aware that operate these payphones:

Company Number of payphones
BT 46,000
NWP Communications 6,500
Infolines 4,000
Ecosse Payphones 2,000
Euro Payphones 200
ITR Telecom Ltd [not known]
ITG [not known]

Payphone revenues
-In terms of PCBs, Oftel understands that BT’s revenues have declined by 40
per cent in the period 1999-2001, and that during the same period Kingston
Communications’ revenues have declined by ten per cent per annum and NWP’s
PCB revenues have declined by 13 per cent per annum.
-In relation to managed payphones Oftel understands that these are also
experiencing rapidly declining revenues, with, for example, BT seeing a 17 per
cent decline per annum for the period 1999-2001 and NWP as the second largest
provider witnessing declining revenues of 15 per cent for the year to June 1999
and 21 per cent for the year to June 2000. There are however some areas of the
managed payphone sector which are resisting this trend (for example managed
payphones which are provided in hospitals) but the overall picture, as evidenced
by these figures, is of declining usage and declining revenues.

Country Number of PCBs Approximate
Ratio of PCBs per
head of
UK 97,000 60 1 : 618
Germany 128,500 82 1 : 638
France 75,450 59 1 : 782
Spain 40,850 39 1 : 955
Netherlands 16,000 15.5 1 : 975

Prostitutes’ cards in PCBs
-The proposal to permit limited incoming call barring to PCBs is quite separate
from discussions which Oftel has had with the Home Office and the telecoms
industry in relation to steps which the industry might take to help tackle the
problem of prostitutes’ cards in PCBs. The Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001
creates a new offence of placing prostitutes’ cards on or in the immediate vicinity
of a public call box and this may be extended to other street furniture such as bus
shelters and street lamps should the need arise. The Director General has made
clear his support for the creation of this new criminal offence and welcomes the
news that a number of early arrests have been made under the new Act since it
came into force in September 2001.


Non-BT kiosks


Telephone kiosks are a rateable occupation of land under the provisions of Section 64 (4)(a) to the Local Government Finance Act 1988. Telephone kiosks are specifically mentioned as part of a Central Rating List Telecom Operator’s rateable assets in Regulation 4 of the Non-Domestic Rating (Railways, Telecommunications and Canals) Regulations 1994


BT operate the majority of Public Telephone Kiosks in the UK. BT has a universal service obligation under the terms of their Public Telephone Operators licence. BT’s kiosks are included in their central rating list assessment. Central List Telecommunications Hereditaments are dealt with at CEO by the Central Valuation Officer, see Rating Manual - Volume 2 : Section 12, Practice Note 2, paragraph 3.5.


Kingston Communications (Hull) plc occupy some 500 public telephone kiosks in their original PTO licence area, which was, but is no longer, restricted to the Kingston upon Hull conurbation area. Kingston's kiosks are assumed to be contiguous with and therefore included in their public telephone network hereditament, which has been valued on a Receipts and Expenditure basis and therefore do not require individual assessments.




Brief History


The Post Office Telephones (now BT) introduced the K6 Jubilee kiosk, with the numerous small windows, in 1936 and it became the standard for 30 years. British Telecommunications plc (BT) had a total of 113,550 public telephone kiosks in England, Scotland and Wales as at 1/4/95 with 94,200 located on public land and 19,350 on private land. The kiosks in England and Wales are included in BT's Central list assessments.


Mercury Communications Limited (MCL) installed their first kiosk at Waterloo railway station in 1988 and occupied some 2,500 public telephone kiosks in England, Scotland and Wales as at 1/4/95. The kiosks in England and Wales were included in MCL's Central list assessments until 1/10/95 when MCL sold 1,500 of their kiosk sites to IPM - Inter-Phone (IPM) and withdrew from the payphone market completely.


The Duopoly review in 1991 and the subsequent liberalisation of the telecommunications market has allowed operators other than BT, MCL and Kingston to obtain PTO licences from the DTI and install public telephone kiosks in the UK.


IPM Inter-Phone were granted a licence on 9 June 1995 and their first kiosk, on the Tottenham Court Road, London became operational on 3/7/95. IPM removed the 1,500 MCL kiosks and had replaced 700 with their own design (mainly Orange or Black) by December 1995, with all 1,500 sites operational by September 1996.


New World Payphones (NWP) were granted a licence on 5 February 1996 and launched their first public highway located kiosk in August 1996, with 500 sites being operational on Public and Private sites by September 1997. NWP kiosks are mainly red or black.


Eurobell had installed some 20 Public Telephone Kiosks in their Cable TV franchise areas in West Kent, Sussex and the South West by April 1996.


Interactive kiosks have been trailed by BT, who planned to install 1,000 by April 2000, mainly in railway stations, airports, shopping malls and other secure locations but this planned roll out has been delayed. Other private operators are also installing Interactive kiosks but little detail is known at this time. The Interactive kiosks have a TV screen often with touch controls and are linked by telephone lines to customers who offer goods and services or to internet providers or web sites offering local information and ticket booking facilities.


Click here for a history of the private Interphone payphone service in the UK sent in by Mehran Roshandel.

send us your pics!!!!!

Page last updated: 28th October 2016