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  • Writer's pictureBath Insider Tours

Britain's famous icon - the red telephone box

red telephone box on the streets of Bath

On this day, 140 years ago, the designer of Britain's iconic red telephone box, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, was born. He was asked to submit a design for a competition in 1924 to create a new national telephone box and his design won. His design of the phone box was in fact based upon a tomb! The tomb in question was the tomb for the wife of a famous architect, Sir John Soane, who had died in 1815. This tomb was so unique and extravagant that it stood out in the crowded London graveyard - and today these phone boxes certainly stand out on our crowded streets! Interestingly Sir Giles Gilbert Scott originally proposed that the phone box be painted silver with a blue-green interior however it was decided that they would be painted red instead. I am sure he would be bemused if he knew his phone box had become a famous British icon which visitors from all around the world often seek out to take a photo with!

The mobile phone has replaced the need for these telephone boxes but visitors to Britain can still see some on the streets of our cities, towns and villages. Many have been converted for other uses such as floral displays like this phone box in Bath or have a cash machine or a defibrillator inside. I have even heard of a phone box that has been converted into England's smallest nightclub with lights and music inside! Now that would be an interesting feature on a sightseeing tour!

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