Coin boxes installed inside buildings generally suffer from interference because of back ground noise.  In these cases the coin boxes were installed in silence cabinets, which were effectively internal kiosks and can still be found in railway stations, hotel lobbies and old factories.  Whilst the BPO supplied many silence cabinets (called Cabinets, Telephone) some were provided privately and could be of any design and material. 

For the privately supplied cabinets the building owner was responsible for the installation and maintenance, whilst the BPO supplied and maintained the coin boxes and telephone equipment.  In 1947 the cost of the GPO Standard Two Door cabinet was £13.15.0.

If lighting (Fitting E.L. No.19) was not required in a GPO cabinet then a perforated metal sheet would be fitted in the roof for ventilation purposes.

Later in the 20th century coin boxes were placed in open areas and open cubicles.  This was a sign of the times, as the closed cabinets were seen as old and stuffy.  Whist the open types were difficult to vandalise and easy to clean they suffered from wind and noise ingress.


This information is taken from the 1928, 1933, 1947 and 1955 Rate Books.

The door and two sides are glazed in all cabinets except in the "Two door" types, which have two doors and one side glazed.

Cabinets, except folding door types, are marked "Public Telephone".

In "Folding door" type the door folds at its centre, and on being pushed open from outside, folds back inside to the right.

Fitted above the doors is a hinged flap, that when opened, will release the door in an emergency.  The flap was locked with a "Turn Button No. 1" and a "Label No. 255".  In the 1950's a "Label No. 301" would be fitted inside the cabinet, centrally on the door stile, immediately above the door handle.

In London the cabinets could be numbered and the Label No. 147 would be used.

A Frames, Notice No. 8 would also be fitted which contained instructions.  Drawing - 8351.

Cabinets could be fitted with a door switch for operating the internal light.

To be requisitioned separately if required:-
Handles, Iron, Left or Right
Labels No. 255
1 x Wallboard, D 60577.
x Wallboard, 48" X 29" (Magneto areas)
1 x Bracket, Telephone No. 12 (Magneto areas)
1 x Desk No. 15 (Magneto areas)
x Frames, Notice No.8 (Magneto areas)
x Frames, Notice No. 18 (Magneto areas)

Cabinet Types (1928)
7ft 5in, Single door 7' x 2' 9" x 3'
Doors can hinged either left or right.

6ft and 6ft 8in, Standard two door.
Doors and one side glazed.  The doors are hinged on the unglazed side.

6ft 6in, Folding door. 6' 6" x 2' 7" x 2' 9".
Door and two sides glazed.  Door folds at centre and on being pushed open from outside, folds back inside and to the right of the caller.


Cabinet Types (1933, 1947 and 1955)
6ft 6in, Folding Door 6' 6
" x 2' 7" x 2' 9.5".
Superseded by Cabinets, Tele
phone, 6' 8", Folding Door.

6ft 8in, Folding Door 6' 8' x 3' 1" x 3' 1".
Cabinets, Telephone, 6' 6', Folding Door.
Superseded by Cabinets, Tele.,
Standard. Folding Door.

6ft 8in, Two Doors 6' 8' x 2' 9' x 3' 0".
Doors are hinged to each the unglazed side.  Includes Bolt, Door, Brass, 5
Superseded by Cabinets, Tele
phone, Standard, Two Doors.

Standard, Folding Door 7' 2" x 2" 10" x 3' 0".
Supersedes Cabinets, Telephone, 6' 8", Folding Door.

Standard, Folding Door Left 7' 2" x 2' 10" x 3' 0".
Door hinged left (viewed from outside).

Standard, Folding Door Right 7' 2" x 2' l0" x 3' 0".
Door hinged right (viewed from outside).

Standard, Two Doors 7' 2" x 2' 10" x 3' 0".
Doors hinged to the unglazed side. Includes
Bolt, Door, Brass, 5".
Cabinets, Telephone, 6' 8", Two Doors.

June, 1930


Provision of cabinets 1 - 7
  8 - 12
Transportation 13
Seats and arm rests 14
Erection 15 - 18
Over-hearing, freedom from 19
Lighting 21
Repair and redecoration 22 - 30
Apparatus layout 31


Part 2 - Telephone Cabinets

1. This part of T.I. XXXVI deals with the provision, installation and maintenance of telephone cabinets.

2. Telephone cabinets are installed in Post Offices and other buildings for the accommodation of telephone call office apparatus for public use and may be supplied for a subscriber's private use on rental or purchase terms. (See T.S.I., Di vision B, Section B. 6.)

3. In all Post Offices with the exception of Crown Post Offices Class I where, in consequence of special architectural features, cabinets of particular design are required, telephone cabinets and fittings are provided, fixed and maintained by the Engineering Department and should be obtained from the Controller, Store's Department, but no requisition for a new cabinet should be put forward until it has been ascertained that the requirement cannot be met from surplus stock within the District.

4. When cabinets, the external appearance of which is required to match ether fittings in Crown Post Offices, are requisitioned the fact must be stated on the requisition and the requisition must be accompanied by particular of glazing, and two samples of wood showing the colour and finish required.

5. The external appearance of all telephone cabinets fitted in new Crown Post Offices Class I or II must harmonise with the rest. of the woodwork and fittings of the office and, where the circumstances warrant the installation of two or more cabinets side by side, they should take the form of a suite.

6. Arrangements should be made for the external painting, staining or re-polishing of cabinets fitted in existing Crown Post. Offices Classes I and II to be included in the general schemes of the internal decoration of the office.

7. Attention must also be given to the uniformity of fittings, e.g. door handles and apparatus layout etc.

8. Standard cabinets made principally of pitchpine or Douglas fir with a single door hinged on right or left, or with two doors, or with a folding door are available. Single door and folding door cabinets have the door and two sides glazed. Two door cabinets have the two doors and one side glazed. The folding door folds at its centre and on being pushed from outside folds back inside to the right of the caller.

9. The external dimensions of standard telephone cabinets are:-

  Cabinets with single door or two doors Cabinets with folding door
Height (overall) 7' 4.5" 7' 2"
Width (side to side) 2' 9" 3' 2.5"
Depth (front to back) 3' 0" 3' 1"

10. Cabinets of lesser height, viz. 6 feet and 6 feet 8 inches with single door hinged on left or right, or with 2 doors, but otherwise of standard dimensions, are also obtainable and are included in the Rate Book as stock items. These cabinets have respectively the door and two sides and the two doors and one side glazed.

11. "Cabinets Telephone, folding door, 6 feet 6 inches" also appear in the Rate Book as a stock item and can be obtained on requisition when required, but their use should be restricted to small Sub-Post Offices and shops. These have the door and two sides glazed and the door folds as in the standard cabinet with folding door.
The outside dimensions are:-
Height (overall) - 6'  8".
Width (overall) - 3'  1".
Depth (from back to front) - 3'  1".

Where a Cabinet, Telephone, Folding Door, 6' 6" in height is essential, the method of construction of the Cabinet, Telephone, Folding Door, 6' 8" provides for the reduction of the overall height to 6' 6" by the removal of the ventilating box. which is 2" in depth. As the outer ply wood roof and ventilating box are secured by screws only, the overall height is readily reducible by the removal of the ventilating box. This can be effected, after taking off the roof, by withdrawing the screws, inserted from the underside, by means of which the box is secured.

Cabinet, Telephone, for Railway Stations (Right or Left) is also available a Rate Book item and is designed for use at Railway Stations where a single cabinet is required. The cabinet is of ex N.T. Co.'s type but an additional structure incorporating four Glasses No. 25 is fitted on the roof.
The overall dimensions of the cabinet are as follows:-
Height - 8'  1".
Width (side to side) - 3'  0".
Depth (front to back) - 3'  0".

12. The stock description of the telephone cabinets of single or two door type specified in the Rate Book includes:-
Cabinet, Telephone.
Handle or Handles Iron (right and/or left) for ditto.
Striking plate.

Folding door cabinets are fitted only with an internal handle.

13. Where cabinets cannot be conveniently delivered, without packing, in Motor Vans or by other means, they are packed in parts in a suitable packing case for transportation.

14. Seats and arm rests are not now provided in telephone cabinets and in those cases where seats are fitted and where the Pre-payment type Multi-Coin Box has been, or is to be, installed, arrangements should be made to recover the seat's.

15. Erection of Telephone Cabinets - After the sections have been removed from the packing case or delivery van, the sections of the cabinet should be erected as follows:-

  1. Place back and one side in position and screw up.

  2. Place the other side in position and screw up.

  3. Screw on front.

  4. Put on top and bolt into position.

  5. Screw angle blocks into position.

16. If the cabinet cannot be erected in its final position, proceed with the erection, as above, as near as practicable to the site the cabinet is to occupy. When assembly is completed, tilt the cabinet, introduce a roller, and move it into place.

17. A packet of brass screws for screwing up the framework is issued with each cabinet. The parts must be screwed up tightly and, where local conditions permit, a space of at least 12 inches should, if possible, be left on the right hand side of cabinets, wherever fitted, in order that access to the ventilation holes near the floor may be possible.

18. The packing case must be returned at the earliest opportunity to the Controller, Stores Department, Birmingham Depot, or to the Contractor from whose works the cabinet has been supplied, as the case may be.

19. Freedom from Overhearing - Absolute immunity from overhearing is difficult to obtain, and, in order that such immunity as may be afforded by the constructional design of cabinets may not deteriorate as time progresses, care must be taken to ensure that all cabinets are kept in a state of good repair.

20. Ventilation - The spring hinges fitted on telephone cabinet doors should be so adjusted as to allow the door to remain open about 9 inches when not in use, in order to ventilate the cabinet.

21. Internal Lighting - Internal lighting of cabinets is not generally provided and, in order that it may not be necessary, the site chosen for the cabinet should, when possible, be in close proximity to an external light, or where an external light could be provided. Where internal lighting is unavoidable, the lighting arrangements and instructions regarding the provision of fittings detailed in Circular Power 46, Monthly List, June 1930, must be followed.

22. Repair and redecoration - The repair and redecoration of telephone' cabinets is undertaken by the Engineering Department except in the following cases:-

  1. When a cabinet needs extensive repair another cabinet should be requisitioned to replace it and the defective cabinet should then be dealt with as laid down in paragraph 97, Division A, Section A3 of the Engineering Regulations. Engineers in the provinces should advise the Controller, Stores Department of projected recoveries and await instructions regarding the dispatch of recovered cabinets.

  2. When internal redecorations in a Crown Post Office Class I or II are in hand, arrangements must be made, if necessary, for the exterior of cabinets to be included in the general scheme of treatment.

23. Special attention must be given to cases where circumstances demand that cabinets be kept as attractive as possible and maintenance officers must report upon the condition of cabinets which require renovation. Renovation of telephone cabinets is a charge proper to "Maintenance."

Decorative Treatment and Painting, etc. - The following procedure is laid down with the Postmaster-General's approval to ensure the maintenance of a creditable standard of decoration of kiosks and cabinets.

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

Where, 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, etc., with credit to the Department. If doubt exists as to the competency of the P.O. workmen, outside labour should be employed.

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

24. When the redecoration of a cabinet is carried out by the Engineering Department the work should generally be undertaken by a local tradesman, but a workman of the Engineering Department skilled in the painting, varnishing and polishing of woodwork may be employed.

25. The specification for re-painting and re-varnishing Telephone Cabinets is as follows:-

  1. Wash and rub down with pumice-stone and soda water the exterior and interior of the cabinet to prepare the surface and remove all grease and then rinse with clean water.

  2. The exterior when thoroughly dry must have all holes stopped, be touched up where necessary with Stain and varnished with two coats of Copal Varnish, except in the case of the earlier P.O. pattern with cork lino panels, the panels and stiles of which must be given an undercoat for Purple Brown Enamel and a finishing coat of Purple Brown Enamel, the stiles being afterwards given a coat of Pale Copal Varnish.

  3. The interior when dry must be painted with three coats, viz. first, Primer for enamel; second, undercoat for enamel; third, Enamel. The portion between the floor and the glazing must be Purple Brown in colour and above this white. A band of Black Enamel, 1 inch in width, must be painted round the cabinet just below the glazing to cover the junction between the White and Purple Brown Enamels.

26. As a practical guide the following quantities of enamel, etc. may be taken as sufficient for one standard cabinet.
Stain, Pine - 0.5 pint.
Varnish, Pale Copal - 1.25 pints
Enamel, Purple Brown, Primer for - l.5 lbs.
Enamel, Purple Brown, Undercoat for - 1 pint
Enamel, Purple Brown, Finish - 0.75 pint
Enamel, White, Primer for - 1.5 pints
Enamel, White, Undercoat for - 1 pint
Enamel, White, Finish - 0.75 pint
Enamel, Black - 0.1 pint

The stain may be purchased locally but the varnish, enamel, etc. should be obtained from the Controller, Stores Department m1der the descriptions specified above, an economic multiple of Enamel, Black, sufficient to treat several cabinets being requisitioned.

27. The Enamel must not be unnecessarily exposed to the air, and it should he frequently stirred during use to prevent settlement. Thinnings should only be used sparingly.

28. The following outfit must be provided when the work is being undertaken by a Post Office workman:-
For Stain - l Brush, Varnish, Flat, 2.5".
For Varnish - l Brush, Varnish, Oval, 2.5" and l Brush, Sash, No. 6 ground.
For Enamel - 2 Brushes, Varnish, Flat, 2.5" and 2 Brushes, Sash No. 3 ground (one for each colour).
For Black Enamel - l Brush Lining Tool, 3/4".

29. Al brushes must be kept clean, and a separate brush must be reserved for each process and colour.

30. At the end of a day's work when painting cannot be completed the day it is started, the surplus paint must be scraped out of the brushes, which should then be placed in water up to the top of the bristles. On commencing work the following day, the brushes must be freed from water before being used again. On completion of the work, all brushes must be carefully cleaned.

31. Apparatus layout - A wall board is not issued with the cabinet, but one must be requisitioned separately, fixed directly on the back of the cabinet, and used for mounting the apparatus etc. The size of the wall board and the precise arrangement of the apparatus and notice frames are specified on the layout plans referred to in T.I. XXXVI. Part 3.

Closed Cabinets

  The "Telephone" signs were Glasses
No. 25 and these were generally
provided at Railway Stations
Design for Brixham Made for House of Commons Design for Harrogate
GPO - Standard   GPO - Folding door



Attended Cabinets in Piccadilly Underground Station - Booths (1948)


Attended Cabinets in Piccadilly Underground Station - Attendants office (1948)


Festival of Britain (Picture dated 1951)

Festival of Britain (Picture dated 1951)
The framing of the roof and walls is in African Mahogany, cellulosed where exposed.
The glazed portion of the partitions between the cabinets consists of two sheets
of plate glass with a 3/4 inch air gap in between.

Shadwell Tube Station (Dated 1934)


Ipswich Publicity Shop (1934)


Maybe be in a Hotel as the telephones are Ivory and the light fitting is non-standard


Whitechapel Tube Station (1920's)


Telephone cabinet at the Motor Show Earls Court (1951)

Kiosk from North Ealing Tube station booking hall (1925-1996)
The door was previously removed


Open Cubicles

Open Call Office in London, Heathrow Airport (September 1958)


Open Call Office in London, Heathrow Airport (September 1958)


Acoustic telephone booths at New Street Station, Birmingham - Dated 1968
Before final design on design

Acoustic telephone booths at New Street Station, Birmingham - Dated 1964
Before final design

Acoustic telephone booths at New Street Station, Birmingham - Dated 1969
Looks like the final design

Kiosks at Waterloo Railway Station, London
Picture dated 1972

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Last revised: November 20, 2023