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West Midlands Box

Started by peted, Feb 28, 2010, 09:46 pm

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Feb 28, 2010, 09:46 pm Last Edit: Mar 01, 2010, 12:32 am by Scarfwearer
Still, while 10 is a little far fetched, 2 is still a remarkable find. The reason I alerted Ward was in case he had a museum etc that desperately wanted a box. Here's a few snaps of the box we tried to save last year, but as you can see, it was very far gone... :(


This might be worthy of it's own thread, I'm not sure - we'll see what the mods think, but I was very sad we didn't get to rescue this one.


I'd like to move it to a new thread - does it have a name?



Mmm. Call it 'West Midlands Box'. Start a new thread and I'll fill in the story. :)


OK. So the story goes like this. I was contacted by the owner of this box last year sometime, with the usual 'I hear you rescue police boxes' type plea. The owner turned out to be a fairly well known horror novelist/writer, who played down his credentials, initially contacting me via his secretary. I told her I had the right connections to help and she told me that 'he' would call me tomorrow night to talk about the box. I eagerly awaited the call, which eventually came at about 10pm. He talked about the police box he had aquired quite by accident when a public school he was asked to speak at that had had it sitting in the grounds for many years offered it to him for free if he had the means to take it away. He had expressed an interest in the box on his visit to the school, having seen it situated in the grounds. The story he was told said that the police box had been offered by the local Stafforshire police to a local school as a possible storage or security facility after it had been decommisioned from official duties. So the local all boys public school took the police box into their grounds, where the caretaker used it as his store cupboard/hideout for many a year.
Eventually, after years of misuse, the box fell into disrepair, at which point, it was offered to my author friend for free. He arranged to have the now fragile box collected and deposited in his back garden, where it stayed for a coupe of years until it began to fall apart more structurally, requiring a major overhaul to save it. The owner contacted me and asked if we could restore the box and possibly place it with a museum where it would be really appreciated.
I got on to Ward who sent a wood expert to asses the damage. But sadly, much of the box was rotted beyond repair. The base and roof had almost completely gone and the back wall was so fragile that joists were being used to maintain the boxes' structural integrity. After a few months agonizing, the conclusion came that saving the box was not likely to be economically viable. We talked with the owner about what might be best to save from the box before it was finally demolished. He rescued the beacon, the signage letters and the original police box desk which still contained the original box log book, detailing the history of the box's usage over the years. Then, after being photographed extensively, the box was taken down and burned. A very sad day for us, but it had simply been left to rot too long. Especially sad as the box had seemed to be the missing link between wooden and concrete... Maybe one day we'll  find another like it, but until then...


Shame you couldn't just build one just like it as a showpiece of what the box would have looked like in its prime.
Bill "the Doctor" Rudloff


Quote from: DoctorWho8 on Mar 01, 2010, 03:21 am
Shame you couldn't just build one just like it as a showpiece of what the box would have looked like in its prime.
Bill "the Doctor" Rudloff

There's enough in those photos to sketch out a plan, lol.  Interesting design. Three sides with windows and panels and a blank back wall, like a BT phone booth.  Funny that it just automatically looks like a TARDIS at first glance, and then you start noticing all the big differences, like the windows are just one pane.


Oh, I realize you can extrapolate it out from the pics, but if it were me, I would have measured things like a fool and get it all written down before setting the funeral pyre.
Bill "the Doctor" Rudloff


Sadly, I didn't get chance to see it in person, otherwise I would have measured it all. I only spoke with the owner on the phone, albeit numerous times. I expressed an interest in going to see it - and he was happy to accomodate, but being rather busy with other things, I didn't get chance. The last time he called me was in the summer, to tell me which parts he had retained before the box was burned. He kept the beacon, the desk and the lettering that was on the lintels.


I wonder when the box was made; it looks as if someone based it on the concrete Met-box plans - e.g. the curious wording 'POLICE PUBLIC' at the top.
leonard cohen  1934-2016  standing by the window where the light is strong


Quote from: ironageman on Mar 17, 2010, 01:03 pm
I wonder when the box was made; it looks as if someone based it on the concrete Met-box plans - e.g. the curious wording 'POLICE PUBLIC' at the top.

It reminds me of the difference between an "Action Man" (or GI Joe to anyone from across the Pond) and those cheapo "Soldier Dolls" you used to see on market stalls.  Obviously based on the original, even down to copying certain elements for no other reason than to make it recognisable - like the door panels in the box, or the scar on Action Man's face.



Wow, I think you got it!
Bill "the Doctor" Rudloff


Jul 15, 2011, 03:12 am #12 Last Edit: Jul 15, 2011, 04:16 am by starcross
That box originally wasn't in the West midlands. That Box was in the "MODEL TRAFFIC AREA NO. 1" Tottenham, London at the Lordship Recreation Ground (Lordship Lane Park) in 1938. Photographs place the Box in the park at least into the early 1950s. Now the area is all grass and over grown trees, but I understand they plan to clean the area up.  

British Pathe has a video from when the park opened originally. Look at time index 1:15 for the Box used as intended. I've posted this video link on this board before possibly under one of the half size builds for kids.

I Don't think this could be the same box. Look at the recent photos of the box falling part. The roof is completely different from the lintels up. The Getty images and British path video, show a box closer in construction to a met box. The thing you notice though is that a man would not fit comfortably into the traffic area box at all, I don't think it even had a door besides for the telephone.

If the story about the Midlands box was true, then it was a functioning box, meaning it was at least 8 feet tall to allow people inside after all police boxes are almost 7 feet just for the door. The traffic area box can't be more than 7 or so feet tall, look at the man in the photograph next to the box, at 6 feet tall would likely have been Huge for a man in 1938. The two boxes are similar but I can't see them as the same box.

The real key component to understanding this box, is locating the person that kept the Duty Log Book. The key to the boxes history is in there some where and it would at least drop location names to research.


dr hue

Pathe link above broken ( new link):

Various shots of box in film.

Model Traffic Area No. 1

Lordship Recreation Ground (Lordship Lane Park), Tottenham, London