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Knightswood box

Started by mikey, May 04, 2020, 10:03 pm

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Don't know which one in the Knightswood area this is but it's a nice photo.


tony farrell

When non-Tardis-like Police Boxes were first included in the forum's data-base, I must confess I wondered why; the non-historian part of me said "how is this relevant to a Tardis Building forum?" But, I've got a degree in History and this part of me sees an increasing virtue in including the non-Tardis-like Police Boxes:

Whilst it seems to be true that many were little more than wooden sheds, it seems equally true that many of the more permanent/durable structures share the same characteristics and indeed common suppliers (I'm thinking here of things like the makers of the domed, metal mesh-encased roof lamps).

So, the idea of tracking these suppliers down appeals. Do they still exist? Do their archives still exist? Who came up with the design? Was he/she paid for it or were they like Tommy Nuttall (the inventor of the revolving disc electric meter) never paid or credited with the design? (To put that in context, the disc electric meters replaced the 1930s meters which were big, cumbersome multi-dialed things; the revolving disc-type replacements were installed in every UK house from the 1950s until the recent introduction of digital metering. Had Tommy been paid even a few pence per meter, he's have been worth a fortune - instead he retired to small farm on Anglesey renting out fields to caravans.)

The shear 'spread' of the idea of the Police Box, if not the Tardis-like design, is also something else that the inclusion of the non-Tardis-like Police Box brings home:

Don't forget that - here in the UK - well into the 1960s most people didn't have a telephone and that at the start of the 1970s you not only had to wait three months to get a phone installed but when you did, you were often put on a 'party line' which meant that if your neighbour was using their phone, you couldn't make a call until they'd finished. Imagine having to do that on your mobiles!  ;D

The point of this anecdote is to show just how necessary emergency public call boxes were to the societies of their day. And when - in the current pandemic - you get people destroying the masts for mobile networks, it could be argued that free-to-use physical emergency telephone boxes on street corners are still a necessary backup even today.

So you see, we might still need four and a bit feet square, eight and a bit feet tall blue boxes after all. (That bit isn't an historical observation, it's just my preferred design!  ;))

Talking of society or, more accurately, of social attitudes:

I don't know which book the photo of the Knightswood Area Box comes from but it's interesting to note the terms 'meat wagon' and 'Paddy wagon' being classed as "endearments". I'm old enough to remember the Police's Black Mariahs and in the 1960s and 70s, the term "Paddy Wagon" wasn't a term of endearment!



May 05, 2020, 03:36 pm #2 Last Edit: May 05, 2020, 03:39 pm by starcross
Quote from: Tony Farrell on May 05, 2020, 01:47 am

So, the idea of tracking these suppliers down appeals. Do they still exist? Do their archives still exist? Who came up with the design?

Now that is a actually an easy question to answer. The suppliers and the designers are known to us. We are also aware of archives that can be searched and the pieces put together. My recent posts show that you can find drawings for most things if you know where to look.

The GPO or the general post office was the designer and they made drawings from most of the police boxes. Certainly the trench police box was the first. Which was then used to make the Glasgow police boxes. However there's more design history in the police posts and pillars and by extension the postal pillars. Elements from all of them get reused and if you've seen one you can see where it was used on the other. On the pa2 police post it was made in 1937 and if you look up the postal I think what they call a wagon top mail box they have the same arched molding.

The Dome and meshed lanterns we're also designed by the GPO. Though no drawings of it have survived at least none that I've been able to find. However there are different news bulletins for the organization that do talk about them some evidence that is online and some of it comes from the police box books by John Bunker.

The speakerphone panels were designed by Ericsson. Which still exist today but I do believe that they were bought out most recently by Sony. Their archives unfortunately haven't been found. Only bits and pieces have turned up online but not a lot.

Most of The Foundry castings were made by the lion Foundry I think in stirlingshire we know that one because it's cast and everything they made more or less.

The archives for those documents for all the casting things that they'd made were preserved and those can be found in the national museum of Scotland. Unfortunately they're not online and you'd have to actually go to Edinborough to the museum and talk to the curator and see where they ended up. There's also the archives in the library in Edinborough well that have a lot of police documents. The unfortunate bit as you have to show up there in person and go digging and I can't do that because I'm in Canada. I never could entice people to go into the field agents search for these things.

The digital archives though for the GPO are through a group called thg telecommunications Heritage group. They have online archives that you can gain access to after a small monetary fee for membership. They do have a limit on how much you can download for a week so it's actually very slow going to retrieve files. But the drawings in documents are there.

So if you fancy going to look into Dusty archives they exist out there. It's just a matter of unfortunately going to the places and talking to the curators and sweet-talking your way into a back room somewhere.

I wish I had had more time in Edinborough to find The Foundry documents. Even the library in Scotland has a lot of information in preserve books and other things. You need only go into the holding and talk to one of the librarians. I asked them when I was there The Once and they gave me a book full of all sorts of news articles that I made copies of. The Police Museum downtown Edinborough on the High Street had a gentleman who was very much into the history of police boxes I got my list of police boxes from him that started off my Edinborough catalogue. We learned about the 1912 version of the Glasgow police box because I tracked down the curator of the Glasgow Police Museum and managed to interview him over the phone. He ended up sending me photos and documents that I then posted on the site.

The information is out there it's just trying to get people to set aside the time to chase it. If I was in the UK you couldn't have stopped me going out every weekend to go find something. I mean the whole country only takes 8 hours hours to cross, that's a day trip to the next city over where I'm from. If you ask purple who live in the UK it's like asking for a pilgrimage to the holy land like something from the book of Exodus.