07/02/2017 01:00 GMT | Updated 08/02/2017 13:55 GMT

The Iconic Red Telephone Box Gets A 21st Century Redesign

It has WiFi and a touchscreen interface...

New World

If there are two objects that are quintessentially London it’s the red bus and of course the red telephone box.

Well now after some 90-years the red telephone box has inspired a new generation.

Ditching the classic red, these new black phone boxes designed by New World Payphones have been built with the 21st century user in mind.

New World

As such each box contains a fast WiFi hotspot powered by Virgin Media. There’s also a large weatherproof touchscreen display which will provide local information and mapping services.

Oh and should none of these high-tech features be what you require there will of course be a good old-fashioned payphone too.

New World

While it’s fair to say that more modern iterations of the phone box have not retained the same level of charm as the red telephone box New World is hoping to change that.

It claims that through advertising through the digital screen alone, they’ll be able to maintain the new boxes four times more than current phone boxes thus keeping them in far better shape.

In addition, for every old phone box that’s taken off the streets and every new one that’s built the company will plant an urban tree as part of the Trees for Cities initiative 

New World

A Brief History Of The Red Phone Box


The Automobile Association (AA) and Royal Automobile Club (RAC) - realising the benefits of a telephone network for their members soon started developing a network of sentry boxes and introduced their first sentry boxes for use by their patrols in 1912.


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The first standard kiosk, the K1, is introduced. It was made of three concrete sections, with a wooden door and glass panels in the door and sidepieces. Attempts to install these boxes in London met with resistance from local councils, so a more suitable design was looked for.


The Royal Fine Art Commission, formed in May 1924 by an Act of Parliament, established a new competition, sponsored by The Post Office, for a national kiosk. They invited three respected architects to submit designs and in the end selected the design of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.


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Whilst the K2 started to appear at the end of previous year, 1926 marked the first full year that the K2 kiosk, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, was made available in London. Scott’s original design was in mild steel, painted silver, with an aqua interior, but when the final model was completed it was made of cast iron, painted red.


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The Metropolitan Police Service introduces the first Police telephone box in London


The Gilbert Mackenzie Trench Police Box appears in the BBC science-fiction series ‘Doctor Who’ as the TARDIS


The Automobile Association starts decommissioning its network of sentry call boxes.

The Metropolitan Police Service also started to decommission its network of Police telephone boxes, with the last removed from London in 1981.


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The telephone network, part of the Post Office, was privatised by the Conservative Government on 12 April and in 1985 British Telecom announced a £160 million modernisation scheme for the public telephone network. This would see the installation of a new, modern kiosk. Inevitably this would mean the removal of large numbers of the older red kiosks.


Alarmed by these plans, individuals and organisations and some enlightened London boroughs sought to highlight the plight of the GPO kiosks. Statutory protection was first afforded to a kiosk in 1986.

Modern day

The majority of red Telephone Boxes have either been removed or replaced with BT branded, modern kiosks, aside from some areas in London, sensitive historic locations and many villages where they have been kept, reinstated and re-purposed for alternative uses.  By far the most numerous is the K6 kiosk designed by Giles Gilbert Scott and introduced in 1935/6 to celebrate the silver jubilee of King George V. 


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The Police telephone box celebrates fifty years in its role as the TARDIS in the BBC science-fiction series ‘Doctor Who’.