May 15, 2021, 11:15 pm


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Hillingdon Circus Box

Started by hb88banzai, Sep 04, 2012, 09:17 am

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Apr 16, 2018, 05:42 am #15 Last Edit: Apr 16, 2018, 10:42 am by hb88banzai
Again, great work lymerence!

Quote from: lorisarvendu on Apr 15, 2018, 09:27 pm
Those cars look a bit older than 1950s.  Any chance this could be during the 2nd World War?  That guy on the bike looks like he's carrying a gas mask.

Well, Frith photo dating is a bit notorious for being quite a bit off sometimes, but considering the relatively dark pant, and white phone door and window frames, I think the chances of that pic being earlier than c1950 are pretty close to zero.

I've encountered the "old car" effect of the late 40s to early 50s as well. Some shots look just so pre-war or war period, but then I have to remember that for the better part of a decade there were essentially no new cars being produced for the commercial market in Britain. Creates a bit of a time machine effect, like going to Cuba in the present day with 1950s cars driving around everywhere.


Yup.  We had that to a degree in America.  No new cars during WWII because all the steel and factories were being used for the war effort.  Add in time it takes to retool, ramp up production again, and people actually having money and how much more severe the impact of the war would have been for England, compared to the US and it makes sense that it would be old cars. 

Oh, and you may have a point on the gas mask bag.  But given that Indiana Jones' satchel was a WWII British gas mask bag, maybe someone was just repurposing one.  How Indy had a WWII British gas mask bag in South America in 1936 is a whole other can of worms. ;) 
"My dear Litefoot, I've got a lantern and a pair of waders, and possibly the most fearsome piece of hand artillery in all England. What could possibly go wrong?"
-The Doctor.


May 03, 2021, 06:56 am #17 Last Edit: May 03, 2021, 07:03 am by peterjohn
A Bank Holiday Monday Question.......  ::)

When it states when a Box was Commissioned..what does that actually mean?
I assumed is was when the box was Installed on site.....
(Hence the Removal Date being when it was Demolished)

Why do I ask such a riveting Question you say..... ???

Well X54 is stated as having a Commission date of 4th May 1936.....

But this photo of the building of Kings Parade (My Local Shops back in the 1960's) is dated as November 1935 but you can see the box is already standing in the background exactly where it should be...Or is it Not a Police Box.   :-\

Incidentally Kings Parade was completed in Spring 1936

 X54 Hillingdon Circus.jpg

dr hue

Not sure if its a box, looks too far away from Pub.

Don't know answer to commissioning question - Realboxmike might know.



May 04, 2021, 07:15 am #19 Last Edit: May 04, 2021, 07:42 am by hb88banzai
Interesting pic Pete, but I'm afraid I'm with Dr. Hue - that doesn't look at all to be in the right position for Box X54, which we know from the 1937 picture was pretty much always in the same spot.

It should be much further to the left in your photo - visually about between the two striped posts furthest to the left in both the original and Hue's blowup. In said blowup the top of the mystery object looks a bit too rounded as well. Perhaps it's the Telephone Kiosk that was in that general vicinity?

Anyway, to answer your question about commission dates - the date a group of boxes in any given division or sub-division were commissioned is the date they went active and were put into daily service. So in other words, the date the phones and boxes could be used by the public and police in the manner intended.

In actuality, it took many days to install even a single box, and many weeks or months for all the boxes in a group to be erected and fully equipped.

First the sites had to be prepared, then the boxes erected (leaving out the whole manufacturing process), painted, and the interior furnishings, signage, and top beacon assemblies installed by the Met's engineering department. Then the first aid, electrical, and telephone equipment (and often the lines as well) had to be installed, usually by separate departments or agencies on separate dates. Only after all this was completed and tested were the boxes in a group ready to be commissioned and go into service. And all the boxes in a given group/sub-division had to be up and working at the same time for the system to function as intended.

Even when things went well on all fronts, you can see how it might take quite some time to complete all of this even for a single box, much less a large group of them, so it was not at all uncommon for a given box to have been standing unused for more than a month before it was finally commissioned.

The worst instance of this was in 1935/1936, when delays in the new GPO/Ericsson telephone signaling system (which had to be modified to meet the Met's requirements) left most of K and S Divisions' boxes fully erected, but awaiting their telephones and light flashers for up to six months. The GPO trying to get its act together is the main reason there was such a huge gap between the last of Y Division going active in April 1935 and those next two divisions taking until the following January to be commissioned, all during a time when the Met was desperately trying to complete the system as quickly as possible. The Commissioner even wrote a letter trying to light a fire under the GPO, in as diplomatic a way as possible.

I believe X Division caught the back end of this delay by the GPO engineers with accompanying supply shortages as production ramped up, so it's not outside the realm of possibility that X54 could have been erected in late fall/early winter of 1935-36, but if so I would expect to see it in its final position rather than further down the roadway as the object in the photo appears to be.


I like your interesting answers!    ;D
I didn't think it was the normal GPO Telephone Kiosk for 2 reasons..
1) The nearest one was still in Long Lane in front of where the shops were being built..
2) It doesn't seem far enough away from the "circus" to be where it was located eventually...
But here is a photo showing the box having it's adjoining ARW Siren erected in 1940...  :) X54 Hillingdon Circus.jpg


Looking at all the photos I absolutely agree - from the angles I don't think it could be either the police box or the GPO kiosk (at least not in their final locations). Further, a similar object doesn't seem to appear in the same approximate location in your latest 1940 pic.

Did they have the equivalent of a porta-potty (US nomenclature for a portable loo) for construction projects back then?

In looking more closely at the 1935 pic, I'm also wondering if it might not be some object in the central island of the circle rather than beyond it along the roadway. There almost seems to be a continuation down below the line of the far curb, suggesting it might be closer than it at first appears.

dr hue

May 05, 2021, 11:56 am #22 Last Edit: May 05, 2021, 02:24 pm by dr hue
x3 magnification

Looks like angled top like those rectangular road side cable cabinets.

Something with a rounded top behind it.