Police Boxes in England
by Pete Darrington
Just how many boxes survive in England is a bit vague really - some were purchased by collectors of Police memorabilia and so reside in private hands. These are the ones that I know still exist. There used to be two at either end of the Blackwall tunnel in London, but they're long gone now. Also the Police Museum that used to be in Bow St had one, but I don't think that's still there either - pictures of any of these boxes are welcome. Finally, another one that still exists resides at the Police Training School in Hendon. Again, if anyone does have pictures, I'd be really interested. Thanks.
This is actually a new box, built only a few years ago. The plan at the time was to bring back the Police Box as a hi-tech surveillance unit. This one's job is to keep watch over Earl's Court Tube Station on Earl's Court road - note the CCTV camera mounted on the roof. Since no more have been built, it seems the plan to repopulate the Metropolitan District with Police Boxes has been abandoned.
To get to it, take the tube to Earls Court , which is on the District line. If you're coming from St. Pancras, get on the Northern Line southbound and change to the District line westbound at Monument station. The box is literally just outside the doorway to the station.
This is the first place that I ever saw a real Police Box. I live in the city of Derby and I grew up in the area that this box is situated in. The museum is the best place in the UK to see old trams in working order. In July 1983, this Police Box was added to the 1930's street furniture that make up this authentic outdoor street scene through which the trams drive.
I had no knowledge of it's arrival until my Dad drove us past the museum one summer afternoon in 1983. Aged 12 then, I did a double take as we rounded the bend in our car that takes you past the front of the museum - there by the roadside was the TARDIS! I begged my Dad to stop the car and I ran to photograph the box. I won't embarrass myself by showing the pictures of me as a salivating 12 year old, so instead here's a recent one.
They acquired the box by placing an advert in 'Police Review' magazine. The Metropolitan Police offered them this box for free, along with a Police Post. The Box is a Mk2 and is the most TARDIS like box I know of.
To get to the museum by car, get off the M1 at Junction 28 and get on the A38 for Derby . Get off at the exit marked 'Ripley'. Turn right at the roundabout and follow the A610 to Crich. The Museum is situated at the top of the village.
The Crich MkII Box was in an advanced state of decay from 'concrete cancer' as recently as 2005. You can read all about it's story here.
Situated just south of the town of Bromsgrove in the West Midlands , the Avoncroft museum of buildings is also home to the National Telephone Kiosk Collection. You can get there by leaving the M42 at Junction 1 or the M5 at either Junction 4 or Junction 5. If you're coming off the M42 you join the A38 bypass for Bromsgrove about 3 miles north of Avoncroft.Get on the A38 bypass southbound follow signs for Avoncroft for 3 miles. The museum is off to your left on the brow of a hill.
If you're coming in on the M5, junction 4 joins the A38 slightly further up from where the M42 does. If you're coming in from junction 5 of the M5, you join the A38 slightly south of the museum and so need to head north up the A38 just a few miles. At the top of the hill approaching Bromsgrove, the museum is off to your right. When you arrive at the entrance to the museum, you can see the area that houses the National Telephone Kiosk collection to your right, with the Police Box sticking up over the perimeter fence. Admission is £4.50 for adults, £2.25 for under 16s.
The collection has two Police Boxes and a Police Post. One of the Police Boxes is of the garden shed variety (pictured below) whilst the other is a MK1 variation from Scotland . You can tell this because of the St. Andrew's ambulance badge (as opposed to the St. Johns Ambulance badge) which is on the lower left hand panel looking at the front. But that's the only clue as to where the box originated. The lower left hand panel is white contains a first aid kit. You break the glass to get at the key for this panel.
I managed to get the museum curator to open the box for me so that I could photograph the box's interior, which housed the usual desk, notice board, stool, telephone and a police issue flask. You can clearly see the hinged windows and the white washed interior walls which helped to reflect light at night, as the box was lit by a single bulb in it's ceiling.
All three examples are in excellent condition as are all the kiosks on show there. The rest of the collection is made up of examples of every BT/GPO telephone kiosk ever used in the UK since their first introduction in the 1920's.
4)Wetherby Police Station, West Yorkshire. This has now been debunked as an original police box - it is in fact a fibreglass replica produced during the 1990's. It is in fact a mixture of styles and of accuracies and inaccuracies. Though now physically deteriorating, it is often 're-discovered' by enthusiasts and as one of very few publicly displayed icons of it's type it gets to remain in this line-up - Glen
Wetherby is on the A1 about 12 miles west of York . The box sits just inside the yard of Wetherby Police Station.
I'd been told that this box still existed by several visitors to the site, but no-one could offer me a piccy. Also, when I received the pictures of the 'Police Box Graveyard', I was aware that there was a design of Metropolitan box that I knew nothing about - a mark3, I'm guessing, with a much simpler concrete casting. It has three windows on each side and only one on the front apart from the phone flap.
It look like a much later design ethic so it could be late 40's or even early 50's.
After someone described this box to me as 'having windows all over the place', I thought maybe this box was one of those in the graveyard photo and it was!
The picture comes from Mark Campbell, who had to brave skidding squad cars and trainees battling through assault courses to get the photo.
Non-TARDIS like Police Boxes still standing in England
6) Trafalgar Square, London.
Believe it or not there is a Police Box right under Londoners' noses which goes unnoticed every day.
Though the Trafalgar Square is believed to have been built in the 1950s, it is well disguised as part of the square. Here is a picture of the box in use in 1955. It is still used but as a storage cupboard for cleaning equipment used in the Square. The lamp housing is reported to be a fitting from the HMS Victory.
(Thanks to Jonathan Ironageman for this Box entry!)
This box was brought to my attention by Jonathan Hufnagel-Giba from California in the US . He's as crazy about Police Boxes as I am and he found this example on a web site by the local primary school. It's not TARDIS like, but it certainly worth a mention, as few wooden boxes are still standing in the UK .
Following my query about a box similar to the Almondbury one still standing outside the townhall in Sheffield City Centre, Graham Briddon has sent me these two pictures of it, confirming that it still survives to this day.
I remember it being green in colour, but I don't recollect the cream trim, which looks rather fetching. Were all Sheffield police boxes this colour?
As Graham points out, the second photo is particularly amusing, as it seems to show that this police box really is bigger on the inside...and just Who is the mayor?
Mike Ramsay has contributed this shot of the Scarborough sea front box that I have heard so much about but as yet not had a decent picture of it - his mum took the picture and had it made into a set of drinks coasters for him. Mike thinks it's his mother's way at poking fun at her son who still watches Doctor Who at 30. I know the feeling...
The "Galleries of Justice" in Nottingham city centre is basically a museum devoted to the history of law enforcement. The rear of the museum has a cafe accessible from the street that you don't have to pay the £7 entrance fee to get into. Anyway in the yard of the cafe behind all the garden furniture that make up the al fresco area to this establishment, is this original Sunderland Police Box. Although missing one of it's doors, it's in very good condition and is important because it's probably the last box existing from the first network of Police Boxes set up in this country (see my Police Box history and the Police Box graveyard for other pictures of those first Boxes).
Another contribution from Tim Neal. Bradgate Park is in Charnwood Forest between Loughborough and Leicester. The Police Box is just inside the Newtown Linford entrance to the park. Newtown is pretty much a one-street village situated near Anstey. If you drive down the main road you cannot miss the entrance to the park. If you've never been to Bradgate Park , Tim can strongly recommend it - it's a beautiful, unspoilt stretch of land populated by deer herds.