The restoration of a kiosk
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On 9th June 1981, a red K6 was installed on the ground floor display area of the Telecom Technology Showcase in Baynard House, Blackfriars, London. Twenty years later, on 25th September 2001, it was destined for removal to a more appropriate setting, with the National Kiosk Collection at Avoncroft.
Here we describe the end of an era: The Last Call at Blackfriars...
Under BT's 2001 heritage project "Connected-Earth", collections all over the UK are being reviewed and the best exhibits are being moved to form new displays with key partners.
Last Call at Blackfriars… (A personal view by John Chenery)
The BT Museum in Baynard House, Blackfriars, London closed its doors to the public in August 1997 at a time when communications heritage was not seen to be a priority for the business. Since then, the exhibits have been in limbo. The museum still exists, but not as a place to visit!
Time has moved on, and today, sharing of information and ideas via the Internet has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for businesses and individuals alike. Indeed, Sam’s ‘BT Museum Memorial Pages’ give on-line visitors a glimpse into the past. Against this background, BT’s new ‘Connected-Earth’ heritage policy is seemingly an extension of its ‘connecting everyone’ business plan, with the philosophy that the more people who are involved, the richer the experience will be, both in monetary and social terms! Thus, it was a day of new beginnings on 25th September for Neil Johannessen, the curator/manager, when the Unicorn Kiosk Restorations Team arrived at the BT Museum.
Reg Lewis, Tony and Mike set to work to dismantle the red K6 telephone kiosk, which had been a key attraction in the ‘Payphone Section.’ First the door was removed, and the apparatus was taken out; then the curved roof, side and back panels, leaving just four uprights and the base. Reg’s Team made it look so straightforward, but they have had years of experience of moving the very heavy cast iron components.
When the base was dug out, a few items of memorabilia were found: a Buzby coaster, 'British Telecom Museum' compliments slip (signed by the entire Museum team) and a pill bottle (which at the time of writing, hasn’t yet been opened). If the dates on the ‘time capsule’ are correct, the K6 was installed on 9th June 1981. The Telecom Technology Showcase (BT Museum) was officially opened in April 1982 and the payphones were always good for a photo or two, especially for film shoots. At one time, some of the phones had lines to the real world, but false 999 calls lead to the withdrawal of this facility.
The Museum hosted the THG’s inaugural meeting on 28th November 1987.
The best of the exhibits will be loaned to other museums and groups that participate in the ‘Connected-Earth’ project. Currently the K6 is in Unicorn Works, but will shortly be placed with the National Kiosk Collection at Avoncroft where it can, once again, be appreciated by visitors.
Photos copyright: Unicorn Kiosk Restorations