Iconic British telephone kiosks to be restored
Eleven red telephone boxes dispersed around Valletta will be restored to safeguard their protection status. The Planning Commission has granted permission for works to be carried out on these structures, which, owing to the spread of mobile phones, have fallen into obsolescence.
The kiosks which will be restored are a mix of Mk1 and Mk2 Type 6B and are mostly found in Republic and Merchants Street.
These structures, which are as iconically British as London’s black cabs, were designed by Sir Gilbert Scott to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the coronation of King George V in 1935. The design of these telephone kiosks was part of a Special Concession scheme to celebrate the Silver Jubilee through which each village or city in the empire that had a post office would receive a subsidised telephone kiosk. Although the king died in January 1936, the scheme went ahead and the ‘Jubilee Concession’ allowed many towns and villages in the UK and its colonies to apply for the telephone kiosk.
The Mark 1, which is a preWW2 design, was manufactured between 1936 and 1952. These can be identified through the Imperial Tudor State Crown on the roof section. When Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne, she chose a new rendition of the crown and, therefore, the MK2 was introduced with the new crown rendition. The Mk 2 was in production from 1952 up to 1968.
The type 6B kiosks are those that have the door fitted opposite the back panel and hinged on the right. The kiosk frame is constructed from a cast with glass panes and solid teak door frame with a cast iron grid insert. The use of red for telephone booths was intended to help users find the facility more easily.
The eleven structures will be transported to a manufacturing workshop so that all restoration works can be carried out in a protected environment. The works will be carried out in accordance to an approved restoration method statement and monitored by the Planning Authority’s conservation officers. The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage has endorsed the restoration method statement.
Back in 2001, the Planning Authority had granted Grade 2 protection status to these structures.