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

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Could the last missing box of the 43 be the one that was pictured at Scotland Yard? I have the book and Met List but not to hand.


It's possible, but unlikely it was used for that purpose right away.

There are at least three timber boxes that were either re-purposed when replaced by a concrete version and/or are candidates for the 43rd Box.

The three unaccounted for Boxes are the original Coulsdon Brighton Road Box being the first Box Sited at the Z9 location in Jan 1933, the Scotland Yard Box first observed in 1945, and the Exhibition Box that appeared at the Radiolympia and Ideal Home Exhibitions for several years, apparently beginning in 1936 and at least through 1938.

Both Coulsdon and Scotland Yard were highly modified in very different ways, while the Exhibition Box, though updated a couple times from its original livery, was almost pristine, but could have become the Scotland Yard Box during the war.


The base may well be wood but what of the floor, if that was a simple square slab that sat between the walls and the base in the position shown it could explain the joint this may not be on the bill as with the beacon as it was to be sourced outside of the contract.


Having said that the angles on the box without a lamp's base look more like it is chamfered rather than flat, the Olympia box also has a lip which looks like a casting mark.

I'm still quite sure the base is concrete.


Oct 22, 2012, 03:49 pm #79 Last Edit: Oct 22, 2012, 04:11 pm by hb88banzai
All other issues aside, the extra step in the base on the Olympia Box is not a casting lip. You can't get something that large, regular and smooth in concrete without meaning for it to be there.


It's more like an extension (or valance to hide the seam of an extension) to the original base to make it as thick as those on the all-concrete boxes.

Remember also that on the all-concrete boxes the base is not a solid slab. It is a thick structural ring that supports a separate floor slab and the pillars & walls.

And yes, the bases on the original Timber Boxes are indeed sloped from the walls to the edges, and at a rather steep angle. In contrast, the bases on the all-concrete boxes had a two stage slope to them - a shallow one from the walls to just past the pillar edge, then a short steep chamfer to the final base edge, with all edges giving the impression of being a bit more rounded than on the timber boxes.


What about the banked edges looking like the corner posts are set into the base?



Oct 22, 2012, 04:26 pm #81 Last Edit: Oct 22, 2012, 04:36 pm by hb88banzai
And yet, take a look at the pillars in the shot in this previous posting --


To me it looks a bit more like they are resting on top of the base there.

Your point brings up another question in my mind, however. How do you mold in a chamfer while the pillars are in place so as to be "sunk in" to the base? I can see how to do this with a flat base, but a sloping one like this leads to all kinds of problems unless you just mold in holes, then later mortar the pillars in, but that should leave some irregularities visible in these photos. Also, having thick timber pillars like this embeded so close to the edges would probably be somewhat problematic for the long-term integrity of the base. Swelling and shrinking of the wood over time due to weather would have a tendency to break them out of the concrete base, I should think, or at least form cracks.


QuoteHow do you mold in a chamfer while the pillars are in place so as to be "sunk in" to the base?

With a plastering float. if the base were a square reinforced concrete slab with square holes at the corners then mortar in the posts and floor slab then slot in the wooden sides and drop on the concrete roof, you might get expansion with pine or other softwoods but if it was made of teak like the doors of the later boxes box I don't think it would be much of an issue once painted.


I wonder what the price of teak was in 1929.


At that time, teak was quite inexpensive.


All railway sleepers were made of hardwood in those days and what with the empire and lack of concern for nature probably cheaper than pine is now


Oct 23, 2012, 12:56 am #86 Last Edit: Oct 23, 2012, 01:36 am by hb88banzai
Oh yeah, am well aware - it just boggles the mind that an imported hardwood like teak + the skill & time to craft it into panels, etc, could be significantly cheaper than molded concrete. How times have changed.


Quote from: hb88banzai on Oct 23, 2012, 12:56 am
Oh yeah, am well aware - it just boggles the mind that an imported hardwood like teak + the skill & time to craft it into panels, etc, could be significantly cheaper than molded concrete.

There was a lot of it laying around from old ships.  And it's exceptionally durable.


Oct 23, 2012, 06:16 am #88 Last Edit: Oct 23, 2012, 06:34 am by hb88banzai
Yes, very durable indeed, but you wouldn't know that in looking at the condition of some of the doors near end-of-life like on the Blackwall Tunnel North Box.

Teak was used mainly in decking and decorative trim work on ships. The rails, stiles and glued-up central panels could well have been recycled lumber from these sources, but the pillars appear to have been solid timbers as the grain and figuring details carry right around through the corners, meaning the edge details were either formed using a moulding plane or router. Those, at least, would have been made from new, well seasoned logs considering the diameter and length involved. Also rather vital to be strong and straight to carry the weight of the concrete roof. That need for stability alone perhaps being the strongest theoretical case for a concrete base with well anchored pillars.

Wish we had the plans for the timber boxes. Besides the question of the floor and base, it would be interesting to find out if there was a timber ring-beam equivalent to the concrete boxes, or if everything bolted or slotted to the concrete roof, that serving the same function.

Speaking of craftsmanship, there is another area where the original timber boxes were very different than the concrete ones, even in regards to the woodwork. The timber boxes used a higher quality, more labor intensive method of cabinetry work that required a lot more skill in their construction. You can see evidence of the construction methods in the door edges.

Edge of wooden door on a timber box --


Edge of wooden door on a concrete box (Crich, but appears to have been typical despite the reverse hanging of the door) --


What you are seeing on the edge adjacent to the lock on the Crich door is the rail's tenon going right through the stile to to be visible on the edge, with wedges then used above and below it to wedge it tight. This is much easier to accomplish than the preferred blind tenon method evidenced in the timber box photo, as it requires a lot less time and skill in cutting and fitting the mortice & tenon, but esthetics aside the resulting joint is more prone to damage from the weather and loosening over time.


But then, the Crich door was possibly more crudely made than the Barnet one.

John Bunker in The Rise and Fall... says that the prototypes were at the 'Becontree Estate.' What does this signify?  Anyhow, I've only just noticed that the picture on the facing page of this book (p57) is of the box that's in the picture that I posted, minus the white glass and in better condition, so it looks as if Domvar's repair theory could be right. So - almost certainly a location shot. Becontree or Richmond? There's nothing behind the fence except a tree or bush in Bunker's picture, so perhaps a park. The light source is a little to the left in both shots so the box may face east, certainly not west. Also in both shots there is a diamond pattern of dots, possibly arranged on horizontal lines, in the sky to the left of the box; this could be something on top of the fence, or it could be some sort of item behind the fence: sports or play equipment, or overhead cables?

(I draw no conclusion from this!)
leonard cohen  1934-2016  standing by the window where the light is strong