Jul 27, 2021, 01:07 pm


New, New TardisBuilders!

Mark 1, Mark 2, Mark 3?

Started by hb88banzai, Aug 29, 2010, 09:29 am

Previous topic - Next topic


Quote from: Kingpin on Sep 21, 2010, 08:04 pm
Quote from: hb88banzai on Sep 21, 2010, 08:57 amFinally - what on earth is going on in that beacon?


Looks like a lot more than just a regular light bulb, doesn't it.

A rotating beacon, perhapse?

Just a coloured light bulb.  The lens magnifies things considerably.


Sep 21, 2010, 10:45 pm #46 Last Edit: Sep 21, 2010, 10:57 pm by hb88banzai
Quote from: exleo on Sep 21, 2010, 02:23 pm
With regards to any differences in the writing of the lintel door signs and the front panel signs, these boxes were all built when long before printed signs would have been used on anything that was an outdoor feature and when sign-writers were still highly skilled and numerous. All signs would have been hand painted and therefore there will be slight differences in positioning or thickness of lettering though thye would have generally been copying a specific font.

Sorry, but I think this is wrong. When mass-production was part of the process it was much more efficient and far less expensive to use screen printing.

Screen printing has been around for a very, very long time. By the 1920s when these boxes were starting to be built photographic production of the silk (later nylon) screens from printed or painted masters was already the common method (as with printing plates, I might add), but even before that handmade stencils were used, being glued to the screens. The technique has very deep roots, dating back to medieval China in the east and back to the 18th century in the west.

I believe the examples in private hands of the top signs readily show the hallmarks of having been screen printed (including edge bleed from poor technique - must have been a Friday). Noting, of course, that the MacKenzie Trench plans call for sand blasted flash glass, which process is a bit different and may have only really been the technique used on the first blue-letters-on-white top signs, if at all.

I believe the existing examples of the phone door signs on both Crich and the few remaining originals on Police Posts also suggest they were done via screen printing. Certainly the mode of deterioration on the Barnet box's sign suggests it as well.

It just makes sense that at the low cost these things were made for that a technique that can produce 20 signs in less time and with less expense (due to volume savings) than one hand painted one (and with more consistency) would be preferred.

Edit: I also believe that silk screen printing has been used on mass-produced enameled metal signs intended for outdoor use (eg, street signs) since the middle of the 19th century.


As requested, here's the lower door:


Sep 22, 2010, 01:11 am #48 Last Edit: Sep 22, 2010, 01:13 am by hb88banzai
Quote from: markofrani on Sep 21, 2010, 11:11 pm
As requested, here's the lower door:

Very cool - thank you.

Yeah, a lot clearer that the line of the door bottom extends to all the panels here as well - at a glance I'd say a good 1"-1.5" above the top of the base.

Interesting - looks like the steps in the corner moulding on the pillars are only about 1/8", as on the Crich box.


Sep 22, 2010, 03:34 am #49 Last Edit: Sep 22, 2010, 04:03 am by hb88banzai
Hmmmm, maybe not so obviously leaded windows.

Here's  a comparison pic of three windows - (from left to right) a 1930 Richmond timber box, the 1936 Olympia timber box, and a 1948 Barnet type concrete box -


In many ways the Olympia box window frames appear to be mid-way between the first timber setup and the middle-era concrete ones (Crich's are much thicker). The Olympia box's are flat profiled compared to the Richmond, are perhaps a bit wider and might even be welded steel (with a phosphate finiish?) instead of soldered rounded (lead?) channel stock like the first one appears to be. Still no drip ledge and crack separating the frame from the wall looks painted over and not opened since.

Edit: Then there's this one from a 1937 concrete Barnet type box (the one with lots of transitional features) -


It is like a cross between the Olympia and 1948 box. Thicker struts like the 1948 (though possibly not quite as thick), but no apparent drip ledge.


Sep 22, 2010, 06:57 am #50 Last Edit: Sep 22, 2010, 07:15 am by hb88banzai
Moved the full text of this reply to here from the St. John Ambulance Logo thread as seems more pertinent here . . .

Quote from: markofrani on Sep 21, 2010, 11:25 pm
Here's a badge from a 1948 Police box...

markofrani - again, wow! That's a closeup from that wonderful pic with the right-hinged phone door and the Bobby holding it open. I was wondering how good that pic got, now I know.

I don't suppose you can post a pic of that phone door somewhere?

Anyway - the St. John appears identical in most respects to the Olympia badge, except the animals are very subtly different. Fascinating. Hadn't noticed before that it had four screws as well.

On the lock, btw, it appears to be either an ETAS or a YALE of the period based on the shape of the logo surround. Also appears to have been painted over and worn back off like that on some of the TARDIS's.

Interesting to see where the handle has been relocated (like on the Crich box) - holes showing it had started at the standard position, then moved down to current position. I note in-line screws on the handle like on the Olympia box as well.

I wonder if there are any holes visible on the panel below the St. John badge showing a previous position, or for that matter on the panel below the phone door showing a previous Mk 1 style sign history.


Wow! Been abroad for the week and the progress here has been staggering. Lovely stuff. As a matter of interest, the telephone in the Crich box when I first encountered it in 1981 was a hanging type, mounted on the left wall. It was not like the wall mounted version of the pyramid phone - I.e wide with a dial, like in pre 80s payphones. It was a simple moulded cradle of a slim type. Almost like a trim phone. No dial. The cradle was dark grey and the ear/mouth piece was dark brown. It had a very 50s/60s look about it, def pre the 70s style receivers we had when I was a lad. The vintage pyramid style phone was not there when the box first arrived.


Sep 23, 2010, 09:50 am #52 Last Edit: Sep 23, 2010, 09:51 am by hb88banzai
Quote from: pete d on Sep 23, 2010, 08:49 am
Wow! Been abroad for the week and the progress here has been staggering. Lovely stuff. As a matter of interest, the telephone in the Crich box when I first encountered it in 1981 was a hanging type, mounted on the left wall. It was not like the wall mounted version of the pyramid phone - I.e wide with a dial, like in pre 80s payphones. It was a simple moulded cradle of a slim type. Almost like a trim phone. No dial. The cradle was dark grey and the ear/mouth piece was dark brown. It had a very 50s/60s look about it, def pre the 70s style receivers we had when I was a lad. The vintage pyramid style phone was not there when the box first arrived.


You know, I've not found what type of wall phone those are in the 1930's boxes. Obviously a 164 handset, but most of the GPO wall phones of that period had the handset cradle run horizontally across the top of the case rather than hanging vertically like in these pics.


Sep 23, 2010, 10:36 am #53 Last Edit: Sep 23, 2010, 10:45 am by pete d
It was something similar to one of these (but not exactly any of them) design seemed to indicate to me that it was not the original phone, but had been used in service since the 50s probably.
1CHCLR.JPG d_141_01.jpg
EDIT: This was the colour scheme:


Sep 24, 2010, 02:09 pm #54 Last Edit: Sep 24, 2010, 02:38 pm by hb88banzai
OK - looks like the wall phones in the Met Boxes dating from the 30's (and some still in use as late as the 60's) were variations of the Ericsson PA 150 phones used on the Police side of the No. 1 Police Pillars and the Glasgow boxes.

Take a look -

Ericsson "Kiosk" phone -


Met Box Phone -





the ickenham pic seems to show the same feature.JPG

As you can see, the general size and construction and the very distinctive handset hook are the same, with the main difference being the lack of an L-shaped case needed for the combination outside-speakerphone / inside-telephone used in the other pillars/boxes.

So generally it would seem that the Candlestick phones were used on the earliest Met boxes (possibly with the PA 101 system), replaced by the Ericsson phones after around 1932 when the PA 150 system came on line, then those were replaced as needed by the standard GPO 244 Police pyramid phones when the PA 350/450 system was introduced in 1937 (together with the more familiar pattern of Police Posts). After that it seems that phones were swapped out as needed with whatever was at hand - 500 series, Trim Phones, etc.

These changes were not consistently or universally implemented, however, as at least a few of the PA 150 type phones were still in use in the 40s and 50s, with at least one documented instance as late as 1963 (that public service film "Tell the Police" some of the above pics were taken from).


That does look like an opening side window seen through the front window, and it makes sense that they would retro-fit at least one of these to timber boxes for ventilation. It's curious that they went to the bother of doing this to a box that presumably never lived in the street. Maybe someone broke a window and it had to be replaced. Anyhow, all this being so, this confirms that the timber box panels were the same dimensions at the concrete ones. I've been peering at the other Olympia picture to see whether the side windows really are opening ones - the giveaway would be that the left and right panes are narrower than the middle ones. It's hard to be certain.

That hint of a notice within the telephone cabinet is clearer in the picture of a timber box with a woman with cloche hat and push-chair.

As for the whatever-it-is in the lamp: I've experimented with a fresnel of similar size and age and can't get that a standard bulb to look as big as that. I'll try more scientifically and see whether it's possible to work out the size and shape of the whatever-it-is. I'd guess that it's a red glass cover to the bulb.

I don't think that there's a significant difference between the leaded window pictures. They look as if they're made by two different people but they could still be from the same workshop.  Lead is slightly stretchy and is usually pulled in a vice to straighten before use so can end up noticeably thinner that it starts life, and styles of soldering vary.

Here are some theories about the line an inch or so from the base:
- it's a strip of hardwood to prevent rot at the base of an otherwise softwood wall.
- it's part of the concrete (or timber in the Olympia box) base rather than of the wall panel.
- it's the edge of a floor upon which the walls rest.
- it's a wall-plate version of the fabled 'ring beam'.
...any other ideas?
leonard cohen  1934-2016  standing by the window where the light is strong


Oct 05, 2010, 12:08 pm #56 Last Edit: Oct 05, 2010, 12:19 pm by hb88banzai
Just to be clear, the window we are looking through is on the right side of the box, so the window that would be open is the right window (looking from the front) in the BACK wall of the box.

As to the window struts, it's not just the differences in thickness, it's also that the obviously leaded ones on the just-erected Richmond box and it's ilk have a totally different profile, being distinctly rounded as opposed to all the later ones (including the later timber boxes) being quite flat. Perhaps they went with a more structurally sound window construction technique when they retrofitted them to open? Leaded windows, after all, would be awfully easy to break into, so this may just be another sign of the gradual evolution of these boxes.

Those were pretty much the same options I had come up with regarding the 1" plus detail above the base on the timber boxes. Hard to tell without a picture of the lower part of the box with the door open. I would say that it seems an awfully even (and thin) line to be a join between concrete and timber though, so my bet would be that it is a timber-to-timber seam, whatever the structural reason and details.

I'm not entirely convinced that the Olympia box was never in service, however. Seems at least a possibility that it was an in-service box that was removed from the street or a training facility (possibly while being replaced with a concrete one) and just thoroughly renovated and updated for the show. Regardless, so many details are exactly the same as those in the earlier pictures (like the above seam) that it strikes me as more probable that it was built as part of the original production run by the same builders, whoever they were, rather than seven years later as a one-off for the show. Seems like the only real differences are superficial - to the windows, the signage, the beacon, the phone and handles, etc. - and all of those were to accommodate the revisions to the boxes that were being made across the board. The base is a bit different, but that could just be part of the renovation or change in material, though I think I've seen at least one concrete box with the same little additional step or edging in the base.

A question comes to mind, though - just how certain are we that the original timber boxes had concrete bases? Most of the pictures seem to show there is more than a bit of "air" between the base and the ground in places - more than I would think prudent for concrete anyway, structurally speaking.


Oct 07, 2010, 12:38 pm #57 Last Edit: Oct 07, 2010, 12:51 pm by hb88banzai
Been taking another look at the early Richmond pictures. Here is a blowup of the lower portion of the best resolution picture I have of it (I think the original came from markofrani)...


Gotta love whoever took those early publicity pictures of the Richmond timber box and whatever tortured happenstance led to them being taken before it was fully painted. Looks for all the world like it was shipped from the builders with only a thin primer coat and somehow the GPO came along and did all their fitting before the painters arrived to finish the job instead of the other way around.

Anyway, you can clearly see what looks like a seam clear across, both above and below that 1" or so strip at the bottom of the walls. So it does look like it was a separate piece from the base - though whether an edging/reinforcing strip for the walls or an indication of the inside floor level is still unknown. It is interesting that the bottom of the door is above this strip.

I also see some pretty clear indications that there is a "horizontal" seam where the pillar meets the base, meaning that it isn't sunk into it at all, but essentially rests on top - probably bolted on from beneath or the inside in some way.

For that matter, I don't know if I'm just seeing things (hard to be sure at this resolution), but it honestly looks to me like there is some horizontal grain showing on the end flats of the base (look to the lower right below the pillar)! If so, and the bases of the timber boxes were also made of wood, then that would explain why these boxes seem to have been erected with primary support being at the four corners, leaving some breathing room underneath the middle sections - less likely to rot.

Perhaps the end to another myth about the first Met boxes - the accepted dogma of timber posts sunk into concrete bases.


Here's a slightly cleaner blow-up of that bit.



Ha, that'll teach me, banzai - I've been relying on my printouts as I've been on dial-up and unable to see the pictures! I wonder whether opening windows were fitted to the backs of all the timber boxes at some stage. One could easily believe that the Hendon one (as in the picture with the bobbies lining up to try out this new piece of technology) had opening back windows...but then, it could easily be the same box as the Olympia one.

Yes... corner posts set into concrete would be inclined to rot. It seems likely that there'd be some sort of concrete base; what we're seeing could be a sort of timber 'skirting' (though it seems a little deep if it is). It could even be that the one-inch strip at the bottom of the panels is all that we can see of a concrete base.

Regarding the pierced POLICE sign on the early timber boxes: outside the Royal Academy is the prototype K2 which has very similar TELEPHONE signs.
leonard cohen  1934-2016  standing by the window where the light is strong