Avoncroft Museum cares for a collection of over 14,000 objects that reflect the lives of the people who constructed, worked or lived within our buildings and structures. The majority of objects date to the 19th and 20th centuries and range from everyday domestic items to agricultural, industrial and commercial articles. Among our special collections is the National Collection of Telephone Kiosks.


National Collection of Telephone Kiosks


This unique collection of functioning telephone  kiosks includes examples of every public kiosk issued by the General Post Office (GPO) and British Telecom (later BT) from the 1920s to the present day, as well as emergency call boxes provided by the police, RAC and AA.

The collection is serviced by three working telephone exchanges: two mobile exchanges and a 1950s telephone exchange building. The collection was first assembled in the 1990s amid public concern for these vanishing icons.


Over the years, Avoncroft had acquired three red telephone boxes and a mobile exchange but was unable to complete their refurbishment due to budgetary concerns. In 1992, Avoncroft sought funding from BT, the recently privatised communications division of the Post Office; the timing was perfect. There had been a national outcry when the classic red telephone boxes started to disappear after the sell-off, and BT’s Payphone Division was looking for a way to minimise any further adverse publicity as more of the kiosks were taken out of service. Following discussions between BT’s Museum Services, its Payphone Division and Avoncroft, BT agreed to fund a permanent exhibition centred on the red telephone box to demonstrate its commitment to the preservation of this design classic. The collection was officially opened 24th June 1994.

In 1998, BT transferred its heritage holdings to museums around the country and Avoncroft was allocated responsibility for all kiosks. Since then, the collection has grown to include examples of all historically significant telephone boxes that have defined the UK’s roadsides since 1920, the year when the Post Office introduced the first standard design.   The collection’s newest additions are a Mercury pay phone and a KX100 Plus Internet Kiosk, probably the last ever new kiosk to be rolled out by BT in the 1990s.