Tuesday, 6 July 2010

K8 - new estates, modernist railway stations, remote windswept spots, 1965 - 1985

the young pretender -

designed by Bruce Martin, the funky K8 was the first serious challenger to K6. it was used primarily for new sites, around 11000 were installed, replacing earlier models only when they needed relocating or had been damaged beyond repair. the K8 retained a red colour scheme, but in a slightly brighter 'Poppy Red', which went on to be the standard colour across all kiosks. it was sassy, sleek and groovy in a tomorrows world, pans people sort of way, with its full glass panes and streamlined edges. less heritage and altogether more with it, more pop! spot one even today, and it looks modernistic, exciting and futuristic.

yet ironically, its relative success was partly due to its K6 inheritance. it took on some aspects of the failed experiment of the K7 (ie. a modern door handle, and full panes of toughened glass on three sides) but remained constructed of cast-iron, greatly adding to its resistance to the UK climate, and with some exceptions the all-over red livery was considered too important to be dispensed with - some K8's in Liverpool and Manchester were painted a distinctive 'Telecom Yellow', as opposed to 'Post Office Red'.and it never completely replaced the old war horse; K6 and K8 survived together into the 1980's, when the death knell for both were sounded with the arrival of the KX100 series.

this marks the real end of our story. the sad story of the red phone booth - they lost their domed roofs. then their red uniforms, and finally even their doors. they were on their way to becoming little more than posts with phones attached when a conservation movement in the 1990s persuaded BT to renovate, and even re-install, some of the old K6s. but this was all too late for the poor K8, now so rare as to be of special interest to the twentieth century society and a focus for one of their at risk campaigns.

at the last count only a handful of K8 remain. estimates vary from 12 to 20. if you see one, give us a ring and let us know!

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