Kiosk No. 2 (K2)

In 1924 a competition to design a new kiosk was organised by the Royal Fine Arts Commission who asked the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to nominate three eminent architects to tender some further designs.  The architects chosen were Sir Robert Lorimer, Sir John Burnet, and Sir Giles Gilbert Scott along with submissions from the Post Office and the Birmingham Civic Society. Five models were placed on view behind the National Gallery and selection was made by the Fine Arts Commission.  The winner, announced in 1925, was a design by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (1880 to 1960).  After a slight modification to the door and change of material from mild steel to cast iron, it was adopted by the Post Office in 1926 and designated the Kiosk No. 2, or K2 for short.

Some important improvements to the door mechanism and window arrangement were contained in the kiosk.  The glass was deliberately made into small panels so that breakages could be repaired with a minimum of renewal.  There was also a ventilation system which worked through perforations in the dome.  Because of its cast iron construction it weighed approximately 1.5 tons and had more interior space than its predecessor.  The most distinctive feature was undoubtedly the bright red colour scheme.  The kiosk's introduction in 1926 was mainly confined to London and some large provincial towns and proved to be very successful.   It is very likely that the first K2 in service would have been located in Charing Cross Road, on the island opposite the Garrick Theatre.

The K2 was eventually made obsolete in June 1936, although a number continue to be found in London today and very few in other large cities.  A number have been designated as Grade II listed buildings and will continue to be preserved.

Gilbert Scott's original model of what was to become the K2 still stands outside the National Gallery, at first glance identical to its progeny although it is in fact different in some details, principally in its wooden construction.

Cast iron structure (1926) (Sir G G Scott).

Coloured inside and outside in Red 539 with underside of roof painted in white enamel.

There were two variants, the Kiosk No.2 Mark 234 and the Kiosk No.2 Mark 235 (Changes to number of door hinges and spring door closure).

There were a number of pre-production K2 kiosks made and one of these, of wooden construction, is still standing in the gated entrance arch to the Royal Academy at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London.

Click here for K2 Prototypes


K2 Kiosk Exterior
Mark 234
K2 Kiosk Interior - showing early apparatus (1925) K2 Kiosk Interior - showing early apparatus
(Box, Coin Collecting No. 13)

An Extract from
Technical Instructions XXXVI
Call Office Installations
Part 3 - Kiosks - 1931


73. The Kiosk No. 2, constructed of cast iron to the design of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, R.A., was introduced for use as an outdoor public call office where:-

  1. The architectural surroundings call for a more ornamental design than those of Nos. 1 or 3.

  2. The receipts are likely to justify the considerable additional expenditure.

74. General Design - Diagram EC1311 illustrates the general design and appearance of the kiosk and gives its principal dimensions.

75. Advice Notes - The provision, recovery or removal of a Kiosk No. 2 will be covered by the issue of an Advice Note. Precedent Secretarial authority is necessary for the issue of an Advice Note for the installation of a Kiosk No. 2 outside the London Metropolitan area.

76. Transportation - The door and glazed sections of the kiosk are forwarded in wooden cases but the remaining sections are bundled in straw packing. The cases are the property of the Contractor who supplies the kiosk and, after they have been unpacked, should be returned forthwith. Normally the unpacking should be carried out immediately after receipt but conditions may occasionally arise which render it desirable to retain the cases until the kiosk is erected. Whatever the circumstances, however, the return of the cases should not be avoidably delayed.

77. To economize in the cost of packing cases, a requisition for a kiosk must be prepared and forwarded to the Stores Department immediately Advice Note authority is received but a note must be inserted in the Remarks column indicating that further advice will be given in regard to the delivery of the kiosk. The Stores Department should be advised that delivery can be accepted when, but not before the agreement with the Local Lighting Authority for leading in the lighting service has been completed and the date on which the telephone line work will be finished is known definitely.

78. Selection of Site - The Sectional Engineer should co-operate with the Controller, London Telephone Service, or District Manager in selecting the site (see Wayleave Regulation 485B and Telephone Service Instruction Division G, Section G3, paragraph 20) and the following points should receive due consideration:-

  1. The door and sides of the kiosk are provided with long windows and, to obtain the maximum advertising value, should, if possible, face the pedestrian traffic. Where the site is close to a fence, boundary wall or building, the back of the kiosk should normally be adjacent to the fence, wall or building, but at least six inches there from to allow of the kiosk being repainted. Four different arrangements of the back and door sections, as indicated in paragraph 82, have been designed to meet the requirements in this respect and to permit of the opening of the door to be so arranged as to offer no obstruction to pedestrians.

  2. Due regard should be paid to the hinging of the door (left or right) and to the direction of the prevailing wind with a view to placing the kiosk in such a position that the tendency of the wind, will be to close the door rather than to open it.

  3. It should be ascertained whether or not the proposed site is over a cellar or other underground compartment and, if necessary, a more suitable site should be chosen or, alternatively, in view of the weight of the kiosk, adequate precautions should be taken against damage to the underground compartment and kiosk.

  4. When it is proposed to erect a kiosk against a fence or wall, the character of the ground behind the fence or wall should be observed.

  5. Accessibility to existing underground telephone and lighting plant. In regard to lighting see paragraph 109.

  6. A kiosk should not be erected under a tree on account of the disfiguring effect resulting from the dripping of water on the structure during bad weather.

79. General Description - Kiosk No. 2 comprises 25 cast-iron sections, viz.:-
1 x Sill Frame.
1 x Sign Frame.
2 x Side Panels.
4 x Top Panels (with perforated Crown).
1 x Back Panel.
2 x Corner Pillars prepared for door and side.
4 x Baffle Plates.
1 x Hinged Centre Plate.
2 x Corner Pillars prepared for side and back.
1 x Ceiling Plate.
1 x Dome-shaped Top Cover.
4 x Transom Rails.
1 x Door with Glazed Panels.

Four pieces of steel plate are provided for levelling the sill frame, and screws and bolts for assembling and for fixing the wallboard and conduit are also included.

80. The cast-iron units are very easily fractured and great care must therefore be exercised in handling them. The sections must be laid flat during storage and must be stored under cover to prevent rusting.
81. The kiosk is provided with a door hinged on the right or left as required, and, as it is frequently desirable that the door should open on the right or left side adjacent to the back four variations of the kiosk have been provided.

82. Diagram E. C. 1324 shows the four types in plan and the appropriate type should be requisitioned as follows:-
Kiosk No. 2A (which has the door hinged on the left and fitted opposite the back panel).
Kiosk No. 2B (which has the door hinged on the right and fitted opposite the back panel).
Kiosk No. 2C (which has the door hinged on the left and fitted on the left side).
Kiosk No. 2D (which has the door hinged on the right and fitted on the right side).

83. Erection - As the kiosk weighs 1 tons an "A" quality concrete foundation, see T.I. XIV, Part I, Section 3 (1), of a uniform thickness of from 4 inches to 6 inches in depth, must be provided on unpaved ground. A concrete foundation of the same description is also necessary to provide a horizontal base for the kiosk when the site chosen is on a decided slope. The foundation should be sank into the slope and it should be uniform in depth. When necessary, a channel should also be provided on the upper side of the foundation to deflect rain water from the kiosk. A concrete foundation is not necessary when the site chosen is on level ground paved with slabs of natural or artificial stone.

84. If the kiosk is to be erected on ground having a considerable slope, special consideration should be given to the position of the sill frame in respect of the side on which the door will be fitted and where the door would otherwise be considerably higher than the ordinary ground level, the depth to which the concrete foundation s sunk into the slope should be sufficient to make the step into the kiosk not greater, or but little greater, than the depth of the sill frame.

85. Where it is necessary to provide a concrete foundation, it should be put in before any part of the kiosk is taken to the site. When laid, it should be protected from the action of frost, shielded against too rapid drying by exposure to sun or wind, and guarded for at least forty-eight hours in order that it may set thoroughly before erection is proceeded with.

86. Earth Connexion - The kiosk, being constructed of cast iron, it is necessary to provide an Earth connexion from the frame work to an Earth plate or other efficient earthing device. If an Earth-plate is provided, it should be sunk in the vicinity of the site but not below it or so nearly adjacent to it that subsidence of the ground on which the kiosk is to stand may be rendered possible. An Earthing bolt to which an Earth wire must be securely connected in every case is provided on the back panel of each kiosk.

87. Leading in - Two elongated holes are provided in the back panel for leading-in purposes to avoid disturbing the ground on which the kiosk is to rest. As viewed from inside, the hole on the left is intended to accommodate telephone leads and the one on the right the lighting service, whether electric or gas. G.I. Conduit 13 inch must be provided for the protection of telephone leads and of electric lighting leads if the latter are provided. The conduit should be bent o pass through the holes to permit of fixing on the back panel by means of G.I. Saddles as shown in Diagram E.C. 1330.

88. The position of the base (sill frame) must be carefully marked out on the site and the connection pipes must be suitably laid for connection to the G.I. conduit.

89. If, as sometimes happens, the local Lighting Authority declines to use the leading-in hole provided in the back panel, arrangements should be made for the lighting service to enter the foundation and base before the sin frame is filled in with concrete, see paragraph 102. In these circumstances and as a matter of convenience, the telephone wires may also be led in in the same manner.

90. Erection of the super-structure must start sufficiently early to permit of the job, including the filling in of the sill frame with concrete, see paragraph 102, being completed in the course of one day. Kiosks No. 2 should not be left with the sill frame unfilled.

91. Details of the kiosk are shown in Drawing E.C. 1330 and for guidance during erection, the Sections are numbered as shown in Diagram E.C. 1324, starting at the corner of the base at the right hand side of the door opening. Corresponding numbers are marked on the sections all the way up.

92. The foundation having been prepared, the sections should be erected in the following order and in accordance with the subsequent instructions:-
1 x Sill Frame.
4 x Corner Pillars.
1 x Back Panel.
2 x Side Panels.
4 x Transom Rails.
1 x Sign Frame.
1 x Ceiling Plate with hinged centre plate.
4 x Top Panels and Baffle Plates.
1 x Top cover.
1 x Door.

93. When the sill frame is placed in position, the four pieces of steel plate supplied with the kiosk must be placed under the four levelling bolts and the frame must be levelled by using a spirit level after the bolts have been adjusted. When the site chosen is on pavement which slopes slightly but not to such an extent as to necessitate a concrete foundation, see paragraphs 83 and 84, it may be necessary to pack up the steel plates with material obtained locally to obtain the required horizontal position.

94. All the joints and the ironwork which will be inaccessible after the erection of the kiosk has been completed should be painted as the work of erection proceeds with Paint, lead colour. After being painted, all the joints, except those between the baffle plates and top panels and between the top panels and the sign frame, must be liberally served with putty.

95. The centre plate should be hinged and secured to the underside of the ceiling plate before erection.

96. Each baffle plate and top panel should be screwed together before erection. Prior to assembly, the joints should be painted and thinly served with putty; the inside of the baffle plate and the opposite portion of the top panel should also be painted. The screws securing the baffle plate and top panel together should be tightened up while the paint is still wet and the putty is soft to ensure a watertight joint.

97. The joints between the top panels and the sign frame should also be painted and thinly served with putty before the former are secured in position.

98. The ceiling plate, top panels, baffle plates and top cover must be well painted on the inside before the top cover is fixed in position.

99. in the course of erection the screws in the vertical members, the transom rails and the sign frame should not be driven right home until all the members referred to have been assembled. All the screws with the exception of those in the corner pillar on the hinge side of the door, must then be tightened up and any surplus putty extruded from the joints removed.

100. An ordinary lath of a width equal approximately to the thickness of the door should be tacked along the full length of the bottom edge of the door, to prevent the splintering of the door during erection. When placed in position, the door should he wedged up as high as possible on the hinged side while the hinges are screwed to the corner pillar. The door closing spring may be attached to the transom rail before the door is placed in position but, before it is connected to the door or the restraining strap is secured to the corner pillar, the lath should be removed from the bottom of the door and the screws in the corner pillar should be tightened up while the door is being tested to ensure that it swings freely. The fitting of the restraining strap and the door closing spring, may then be completed and the latter adjusted to function properly.

101. When the door has been hung and before the sill frame is filled With concrete, see paragraph 102, the perpendicularity of the kiosk should be tested by means of a plumb bob and line and any adjustment that may be necessary should be made to the levelling screws in the sill frame or to the packing beneath them. All visible projecting screw ends must afterwards be cut off flush and smooth with a sharp cold chisel. Care should be exercised in doing this work in cold weather particularly at the corners of the transom rails.

102. When the erection of the kiosk has been completed, the sill frame should be filled in to 'within one inch of the curved section with "A" quality concrete which should be carefully punned under the flanges and corners of the frame. The concrete should be allowed a few hours to set and then the floor of the kiosk must be finally completed with a granolithic surface flush with the bottom of the curved section of the sill frame. The finished floor should be floated smooth and given a slight fall from back to front. The granolithic material should be composed of:- 1 part cement; 1 part sand; 2 parts 0-1/4inch graded granite chippings.

103. The door should be secured to prevent access to the kiosk until the floor has thoroughly set.

104. Signs - In ordinary circumstances four opal signs, "Glasses No. 25 must be fitted but where the back or side of the kiosk is against a fence, wall or building of greater height than the kiosk three signs only are necessary and the panel of the kiosk adjacent to the fence, wall or building should be fitted with a piece of 21-oz. clear sheet glass, 28.25 inches by 5 inches, purchased locally. The signs will be illuminated at night by means of a light (normally an electric lamp) fitted inside the kiosk.

105. Maintenance - It is very important that the door should be tested at frequent intervals to ensure that it is closed automatically by the door-closing spring and that the restraining strap prevents it opening to a greater angle than one of 75 degrees which is equivalent to an opening of 2 feet 7.25 inches measured from the door jamb to the edge of the door. In Engineering Sections in which functional organization exists the workmen responsible for the maintenance of the apparatus should make any necessary adjustments to the door-closing spring and should draw attention to any stretching of the restraining strap that may require to be rectified.

106. Items to be requisitioned separately - The following stores are required in connexion with the provision of each kiosk and must be requisitioned separately:-
1 x Wallboard 53 inches by 30 inches.
3 or 4 Glasses No. 25, see paragraph 104.
Conduit No. 2A - as required.
Conduit Saddles No. 2A - as required.
20 lbs. Putty.
1 pint Oil, Linseed, Raw (for thinning putty).

The putty and linseed oil may be purchased locally.

107. Tools - The following tools, not normally included in Tool Kits, are necessary for the erection of Kiosk No. 2:-
1 x Tap, Whitworth, Plug, 3/16in. 
1 x Tap, Whitworth, Plug, 1/4in.
1 x Tap, Whitworth, Plug, 3/8in.
1 x Tap, Whitworth, Taper, 3/16in.
1 x Tap, Whitworth, Taper, 1/4in.
1 x Tap, Whitworth, Taper, 3/8in.

These should he obtained by local purchase. Single-ended tap wrenches to suit the tap sizes are also required. These may be made or purchased locally.

108. The tool kit should include an extra large screw driver, a tommy bar, tapering from 5/16inch upwards, an adjustable spanner, a plumb bob with line and a spirit level.

109. Lighting - Details of the lighting arrangements and instructions regarding the maintenance of fittings are given in Circular Power No. 46 Monthly List June 1930, which deals with the general question of kiosk lighting.

110. Decoration - With the Postmaster General's approval, the following procedure is laid down to ensure the maintenance of a creditable standard of decoration of cabinets and kiosks.

111. Where the P.O. Engineering Staff includes no skilled painter, the decoration work should normally be carried out by tradesmen painters engaged for the purpose by the Department or under contract, cabinets and kiosks being grouped for this purpose so far as is practicable.

112. When, however, the foregoing procedure would be attended by serious inconvenience or would be unduly costly, the work may be entrusted to P.O. workmen provided that men are available who are competent to do the painting with credit to the Department. If doubt exists as to the competency of the P.O. workmen, outside labour should be employed.

113. When the work is put out to contract, a specification should be prepared in accordance with these instructions.

114. Painting, Washing and Rubbing down new Kiosks - The whole of the ironwork must be washed down with warm water to which has been added sufficient soda to remove all grease and dirt, particularly on those parts which have been handled in the course of erection. The whole of the work must then be washed with clean water to remove any trace of soda and finally wiped dry.

115. When it is desired to proceed with the painting immediately alter washing and drying, a small quantity of clean turpentine must be well brushed into the recesses to remove any remaining water or dampness.

116. All knots must be well coated with knotting before the priming coat of paint is applied to the woodwork.

117. Painting Internally - Kiosks must be painted internally with 1 Priming Coat and 1 or 2 coats of Flame Coloured Finishing Paint. One coat of finishing paint will usually suffice but a second coat may be given, if necessary, to secure a satisfactory appearances

118. Painting Externally - Kiosks must be painted externally with :1 Priming Coat; 1 Under coat; 1 Coat of Special Red Finishing Paint; 1 Coat of Varnish.

119. Repainting Kiosks - Kiosks which have previously been painted and the paint of which is in good condition must be washed down internally and externally and given one undercoat externally. The inside must be given one or two coats of Flame Coloured Finishing paint while the outside must be finished with one coat of Special Red Finishing paint and one coat of Varnish. One coat of Flame coloured Finishing paint will usually suffice but a second coat may be given to secure a satisfactory appearance. Where the paint work has been damaged, it must be touched up in the damaged places before being re-painted.

120. Quantity and Description of Paint - The quantity and description of paint etc. required for the decoration of a Kiosk No. 2 is given below and supplies can be obtained from the Stores Department.

Paint Kiosks, Primer - 1 pint.
Paint Kiosks, Undercoat - 1 pint
Paint Kiosks, Finishing Special Red - 1 pint
Varnish, Weatherproof - 3/4 pint

Paint Kiosks, Primer - 1 pint.
Paint Kiosks, Finishing, Flame Colour (per coat) - 1 pint
Paint, Lead Colour - 3 lbs.

121. The Paint, Lead Colour, is required for painting such portions of the kiosk as will be inaccessible after its erection has been completed, see paragraph 94.

122. Paint, Kiosks, Primer, Undercoat and. Finishing, Special Red, is stocked by the Stores Department in 1/4pint, 1pint and 1gallon containers, Paint Kiosks, Finishing, Flame Colour in 1pint and 1gallon containers and Varnish weatherproof in 1gallon containers. The size of containers and quantity requisitioned should be commensurate with the requirements that can be reasonably foreseen. Supplies of Paint or Varnish obtained in bulk by the gallon, to economize transport charges should be issued from section stock in small containers of not more than 1pint capacity.

123. Redecoration - Great importance is placed upon the advertisement value of kiosks to the Post Office. As, owing to the varying atmospheric conditions to which kiosks are exposed, it is impossible to lay down a definite period for redecoration, arrangements should be made for a periodical inspection by a competent officer. In no circumstances should kiosks be allowed to have a dilapidated appearance.

124. Wallboard - The back panel of the kiosk is arranged for a "Wallboard 53 inches by 30 inches" to be mounted directly thereon by means of screws which are supplied with the kiosk. These screws should be left in position by the kiosk erectors or handed over to the foreman of the fitting staff. The telephone, coin collecting box and notices should be fixed to the wall board.

125. Apparatus Lay-out - The general arrangement of the apparatus and notices should be strictly in accordance with the lay-out plans and conditions specified in T.I. XXXVI, Part 1.

126. Director Shelf - A shelf to be obtained under the Rate Book description "Desk No. 15" which includes the necessary brackets (Bracket, Shelf No. 2) for fixing should be fitted on the wallboard in Kiosk No. 2 as shown on Diagrams EC1401, EC1402 and EC1403. The directory should lie flat on the shelf and should be secured by the cord supplied with it. The cord should be passed through the hole in the desk and fastened to one of the desk brackets.

Diagram EC 1403 shows the layout for early Automatic connections and uses a Telephone No. 123 and a Bellset No. 1.

Diagram EC 1401 shows the layout for early Manual (C.B.) connections.

Diagram EC 1402 shows the layout for early C.B.S. and Magneto connections.

From 1936 the internal arrangements can be found on Diagrams EC 1577 (CB), EC 1578 (Automatic) and EC 1587 (Magneto).

Additional Information

The kiosk is fixed with screws.  These should be on brass and greased to prevent any corrosion.

Side panels and back panel (sides and top edges) - Tapped 5/16" Whit.
Side panels and back panel (bottom edge) - Tapped 3/8" Whit.
Glazing panels - tapped 3/16" Whit (countersunk heads).
Back panel wallboard bosses - tapped 3/8" Whit.
Back panel conduit fixings - tapped 1/4" Whit.

Uses Hinges, Brass No. 2 on the door (6" x 3").

Kiosk - 8706, 8707 and 8708.
Backboard layout - EC1401, EC1402, EC1403, EC1577, EC1578 and EC1587.
Kiosk parts details - EC1330.
Desk No. 15 - 9196.
Bracket, Shelf No. 2 - 9855.
Frames No. 17 - 8351.
Shackle No. 5 - 8709.

Original design plans by Gilbert Scott

Additional Pictures
All Mark 235

This is connected to a Manual Switchboard, the emergency button being visible below the mirror


Painting in progress



Picture taken in 1936 showing the Jubilee back board arrangement
Note the umbrella hook on the bottom left of the right hand directory shelf
The shelves are also marked - Parcels and Directories


K2 kiosk in use - Picture dated 1938


K2 - Located in the gated entrance arch to the Royal Academy at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London


BACK Home page BT/GPO Telephones Search the Site Glossary of Telecom Terminology Quick Find All Telephone Systems

Last revised: June 16, 2024