01 November 2015

Warrington - K4 Rarity

Designed by the GPO's Engineering Department on the basis of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's K2, the K4 kiosk incorporated a post box and a pair of stamp vending machines. Nicknamed the Vermillion Giant, it was one-and-half times the size of the already monumental K2. The kiosk featured the same fluted architrave mouldings as Scott's K2, but the addition of the postal elements necessitated the stretching of the domed roof and extra trim moulding on the longer sides to break up the otherwise flat cast iron surfaces.

Three of the pediments were pierced with the same Tudor crown used on the K2, providing ventilation. The rear pediment bore a lamp, missing on this example in Warrington. The entablatures carried illuminated signs, Post Office on the long sides, Telephone above the door, and Stamps above the post box and stamp machines.

Introduced in 1930, production ceased in 1935, and only 50 were produced and sited. The stamp machines let in water and were noisy, making telephone calls difficult. Moreover, post boxes tend to be placed by the roadside for ease of access, whilst telephone boxes tend to be tucked up against buildings to limit noise, and the K4 thus proved difficult to site successfully.

Just ten K4s remain, only three on the public streets of Britain: Frodsham, Warrington, and Whitley Bay. Three more grace railway stations: Bolton Street Station in Bury, at the East Somerset Railway in Cranmore, and at the Severn Valley Railway in Bewdley. A further three are housed in museums: the Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre, the Avoncroft Museum in Bromsgrove, and the British Postal Museum and Archives in London. A tenth can be found on the Sand le Mere campsite in Tunstall.

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