Iconic red phone box begins a new life at Cambridge University Library

A red telephone box stands in front the steps leading up to the entrance of the University Library
A detailed close-up of a golden crown moulded on the red top of a red phone box
A monochrome postcard of the University Library building with an image of a K6 telephone box superimposed on the tower

We are excited to reveal our bespoke book drop, which is on its way to completion!

On Wednesday, June 8, a fully refurbished Kiosk Number 6 (K6) telephone box was installed at the entrance of the University Library, in preparation for its new life as a book drop for returned loans.

It's a fitting role for what the UK public once voted as the most iconic British design of all time - the K6 was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the very same architect behind our Grade II listed library building.

The instantly-recognisable red telephone box was designed by Gilbert Scott for the General Post Office in 1935 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V (moulded Royal crowns appear on each kiosk).

One year earlier, in 1934, Gilbert Scott's design for Cambridge University Library had been completed and officially opened by George V and Queen Mary.

The similarities between the library's tower - a monolith of industrial art deco design - and Kiosk Number 6 haven't passed unnoticed over the years...  

Following the launch of the K6, some 8,000 boxes were installed across the nation as part of the 'Jubilee Concession' in 1936, allowing towns and villages with a Post Office to apply for a kiosk.

Enduringly popular, these cast-iron and teak beauties were in production until 1968, during which time around 60,000 examples were installed.

Ours is one of approximately 11,700 kiosks surviving in Great Britain and Northern Ireland but (we think) the one with the most singular signs.

The University's Department of Engineering is busy making internal modifications to bring the book drop into use, ensuring that books can be deposited safely and securely.

Our existing book drop remains in use until that work is completed.

Published 08 June 2022

The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. 

A red telephone box with the words 'book drop' printed on the signs around the top stands in front of the University Library tower
A close image of the top of the red telephone box, showing the words 'book drop' and the moulded crown decoration