Phone Box Thursday: The Wrong Phone Box #1: Doctor Who, ‘The Chase’ (1965)

A new subseries of Phone Box Thursday today. This one could go on (intermittently) for some time!

Everyone knows about the famous police-box-shaped TARDIS in Doctor Who, but – as a frequent visitor to 20th century Britain – the Doctor has often encountered the red type of phone box too. I’ll be taking a look at these instances while I wait to be allowed outside again to track down more extant examples…

We start off with the first example of a classic red phone box in the programme, at the end of the 1965 serial ‘The Chase’, when the Doctor’s companions Ian and Barbara return to their home era (well, give or take a couple of years) and home city of London.

Doctor Who: The Chase
The police box is a regular sight in Doctor Who… but what’s that lurking in the background?

Spending the day doing some celebratory sightseeing, they find a police box (not the TARDIS), which is flanked on one side by a couple of red examples. The first red phone boxes (shown in black and white, but let’s ignore that) seen in Doctor Who!

The filming location, on Bayswater Road (coincidentally just around the corner from where I photographed my last two London phone boxes in November 2019!) was very easy to track down, as the Doctor Who community is a world of wonderfully in-depth geekery and so the useful site Doctor Who Locations is a thing that exists. Someone on there has taken a photo showing that both the police box and phone boxes were removed at some point and replaced with a more modern KX+ phone kiosk, presumably in the late 1990s when that design was in use.

Here’s the most up-to-date Street View image: 51°51’02.3″N, 0°18’80.6″W.

Make sure you click on the little clock dropdown in the top left corner on Street View, because the really interesting thing here is the story of the telegraph pole that you can see in the still from the programme. At the start of the 2010s, it still looked exactly as it did in the mid-1960s. However, over the course of the last decade, it has become gradually overgrown with ivy, to the point that by the time of the most recent image from July 2019, it was so completely disguised that you really have to know it was there in order to identify it among the trees! Given that it’s slap bang in the middle of London, I am absolutely flummoxed as to whether this was a deliberate attempt by the council to hide it, or just nature taking its course (and the council just went with it, due to the pole no longer being in use).

Anyway, this is not Telegraph Pole Thursday, so let’s move on.

I noticed when I was doing my rounds of central Edinburgh to photograph phone boxes in January 2016 that many of the red phone boxes were standing next to police boxes (Edinburgh and Glasgow have both largely maintained their collections of police boxes; the large rectangular police boxes that are particular to Edinburgh are so sizeable that most of them were turned into coffee kiosks in the 2000s, and have seemingly been doing a roaring trade ever since). Here’s an example in the Grassmarket. It seems this setup may have been common in London, too, when police boxes were still standing there.

Next time the Doctor visits Earth: we find a few more London examples. Tune in next week! (Presuming I don’t find another box for the main collection in the meantime.)

Phone Box Thursday: A849, Ardtun

One extra week for logging the collection, as Jen sent in this phone box from the Isle of Mull!

Red phone box
Red phone box, A849, Ardtun, 23rd September 2020.

(Coordinates 56°32’88.2″N, 6°22’70.2″W.)

An isolated and slightly decrepit, but essential, example – the phone is still intact and reportedly still very much in use due to the bad phone signal on the island!

Here’s hoping they fix that door soon.

Today’s earworm playlist:

The Weeknd – ‘Blinding Lights’
Sinead O’Connor – ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’

Phone Box Thursday: Unknown road, Huntly

Here’s another Scottish phone box that Bill sent in earlier this year.

Red phone box
Red phone box, unknown road, Huntly, 3rd October 2020.

No coordinates for this one as I’ve not been able to track it down on Google Street View. It is somewhere in the vicinity of Huntly, Aberdeenshire.

It’s a bit of a bashed-up example and the building beside it appears to be in even more derelict condition. A bit of a forgotten location in general, perhaps!

That’s the last phone box of 2020, and the last of my phone box collection for now! Until I (or readers) find some more, I’ll be looking at phone boxes in film and TV on Thursdays for the foreseeable future.

Phone Box Thursday: Ireland Street, Warrington

Bill sent in this white-painted phone box from the Halliwell Jones garage in Warrington.

White phone box
White phone box, Ireland Street, Warrington, 22nd September 2020.

(Coordinates 53°40’20.4″N, 2°59’36.3″W.)

Interestingly, this box has only recently been painted white. In all the Street View images from 2014 to 2019, you can see that it used to be yellow! Either way, it makes a very nice addition to the garage forecourt.

Back to the regularly-scheduled red phone boxes next week.

Phone Box Thursday: Forest Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne

Here’s another phone box from the yard I mentioned last week.

Red phone box
Red phone box, Forest Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne, 21st September 2020.

(I won’t post the exact street or GPS coordinates as it looks like private property.)

This box is a K6, and looks pretty dinky next to last week’s K2. There are a lot of vintage postboxes there too, but I’m not in the business of ‘Postbox Monday’ so it was just the phone boxes I photographed!

Further south again next week.

Phone Box Thursday: Forest Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne

Here’s a phone box I actually witnessed myself here in Newcastle!

Red phone box
Red phone box, Forest Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne, 21st September 2020.

(I won’t post the exact street or GPS coordinates as it looks like private property.)

This phone box is in a yard visible from the street; the owner of the yard is obviously a collector as they have a great collection of phone boxes and postboxes from various eras! It’s very rare to see a K2 box like this outside London.

More from Newcastle next week.

Phone Box Thursday: Main Street, Mochrum

Here’s another phone box from Mum and Dad’s travels in Dumfries and Galloway.

Red phone box
Red phone box, Main Street, Mochrum, 14th September 2020.

(Coordinates 54°78’58.1″N, 4°57’10.5″W.)

Interestingly, the phone box has moved slightly relative to the telegraph pole since the Google cars visited in 2009.

The box is very prettily presented, with lots of flowerboxes surrounding it, but sadly it does not seem to have escaped the phone box cull that is sweeping the UK at the moment 🙁 This one, too, has a notice of imminent removal inside it.

Next week I’ll be posting a phone box that I found myself. For once!

Phone Box Thursday: B7052, Whauphill

Here’s another phone box from Mum and Dad’s adventures in Dumfries and Galloway.

Red phone box
Red phone box, B7052, Whauphill, 14th September 2020.

(Coordinates 54°81’79.8″N, 4°48’55.4″W – roughly.)

Unfortunately the Google cars, on their one brief visit to rural Scotland in 2009, couldn’t be bothered to drive through Whauphill itself, so the Google Street View image above is as close as we can get. The phone box stands outside the village hall, the location of which is shown on this map – you can see it’s just around the corner from where the Street View coverage ends.

The phone box itself has been adopted by the local community, which is great as it means the box will stick around, though its purpose is so far unclear. Some clothes have been left in the box, so it may be being used as a donation point.

More from Scotland next week.