Sometimes, there are cities that can be described not only in words but in scents and colours. The smell of freshness after a rainy day as well as the colours blue and red are the little things that remind me of London.
Blue, somehow, resembles pride, a feeling that drifts all over the city whether it’s because it reminds us we’re in the royal city or the fact that London is one of the prominent cultural capitals of Europe. It is more than enough to mention the British National Museum, the Royal Albert concert Hall or the Globe Theatre. The river Thames gives London a majestic shade or two of blue as well.
Red, on the other hand lives and breathes in the streets of London. Double-decker busses, the queen’s guards dressed in red leisurely trotting on their horses, and last but not least, the famous phone booths, that give London a certain dramatic look. Over time, a little rain drizzle here and there goes completely unnoticed because you become aware of the fact that London is, truly, a cheerful and diverting place.
London’s red phone booths, the theme of this text, convey a beautiful story as well as a strong message considering preservation of old values. The generation of my children would surely wonder what are these silly gadgets used for?
It all started back in 1924, when a contest for a new street booth design was organized. At the end, the idea of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was proclaimed the best one. Then and there he made a decision that the phone booths are going to be red for the sake of better perceptibility. They were designed as a combination of two styles: modern and classic, putting emphasis on purpose. The rounded dome had ventilation openings, glass panels and sound isolation. On the dome you could see the Royal coat of arms, put to represent the noble title of London. This is how the most famous public phone booth, K2, made its appearence. Afterwards came the manufacture of these miniature sculpures which overloaded at first the streets of London, and then streets of other cities and rural villages in the United Kingdom.
K2 is not just a phone booth,it is a symbol of this city. As time went by, the booths were crafted into perfection and now you have a wide diversity of models. Mirrors were added into booths, even at one point the color was up for debate, which caused a real dispute in the parlament. There are also companies that restore red, old booths in particular. Today, apart from the streets, you can see them in private gardens as an ornament of past time, but also in restaurants and pubs. Some of them were even converted into small libraries. In London, you can see them in Bow Street next to the Covent Garden, near Smithfield’s Meat Market, in front of Big Ben and in many other places as well.
They evoke feelings of the past not only for residents and tourists of the UK, but also for countries like America, Australia, New Zealand, Gibraltar, Barbados, Malta and so on. Keeping up with the beat of today, exists an idea to transform London booths into WiFi stations containing fast internet and digital panels with all sorts of touristic information and maps of the city.
Seemingly, the red London booth serves as a witness for the past, a story-teller of the present and a prediction for the future of tomorrow. Maybe because it kept the value of the conservative English tradition and was able to grow into one of the most attractive cities in the world, lies the secret and the glory of the great city of London.