Two cream coloured phone boxes side by side.
Pair of K8 phone kiosks on Princes Avenue/ Park Gove, Hull. © Historic England Archive
Pair of K8 phone kiosks on Princes Avenue/ Park Gove, Hull. © Historic England Archive

Rare Phone Boxes Listed

Nine rare K8 phone boxes in and around Hull have been listed at Grade II by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England.

The K8 was designed in 1965-66 by architect Bruce Martin who was commissioned by the General Post Office, owners of the public telephone network. In contrast to the intricate glass panelling of Giles Gilbert Scott’s iconic K2 and K6 boxes, it is notable for its modern and minimalist appearance, which made it simpler to repair and maintain.

The K8 kiosk is the last generation of the classic public telephone box. Between 1968 and 1983 11,000 K8s were installed across the UK. However, there are only around 50 remaining in their original position as most of them were removed by British Telecom following its privatisation in 1984. They were replaced by the sleek silver KX100 kiosk, which in turn were made virtually obsolete by the proliferation of mobile phone ownership.

Most of the identified surviving K8s are in and around Hull because they were not the property of British Telecom. Hull is the only place in England where the local council actively ran the public telephone network, having been granted a licence to operate from 1902 to 2007. Today, the network has continued to be run by an independent company, Kingston Communications.

As a mark of the independence of the network, the K8s (the K1 and all K6s) in Hull are painted cream, rather than the red used elsewhere in the country.

Our old phone boxes are a beloved part of England’s heritage and for many of us they’ve been the scene of memorable moments in our own lives from furtive conversations with first boyfriends to desperate calls home when we’ve been in a fix.

These listed K8s represent the cream of the crop in the Hull area, those which are in the best condition and, which help to enrich their individual historic streetscape location.
Sarah Charlesworth, Listing Team Leader for the North Historic England
The K8 is really the last in the line of the classic telephone boxes and their plight has long been a cause for C20 Society, so we’re delighted to see another brace of boxes recognised with national listing. They’re the perfect example of how good design – no matter how small – can help enrich our high streets and communities.
Catherine Croft, Director Twentieth Century Society