The red telephone box, post box and London bus are familiar symbols of Britain. The first was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (1880- 1960) and here I am at Liverpool Cathedral where he is buried with his wife.
The K6 Kiosk is my favourite and they’re still to be seen in streets of the United Kingdom, Malta, Bermuda and Gibraltar. Giles didn’t just design this though. He was a leading architect and designer known for his works on the Houses of Parliament (after the Second World War), Waterloo Bridge, Oxford and Cambridge universities, Battersea Power Station and Liverpool Cathedral. This latter is where he’s buried - not in a corner in the cemetery round the back of the cathedral but at the grand entrance.
Though he’s buried in Liverpool he was born in Hampstead in London, one of six children. Architecture was in the blood as his dad and granddad were architects, the latter designing the Albert Memorial and the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station. His dad was declared mad and put in hospital and Giles later said that he remembered seeing his dad only twice after that. When he was nine he was given a farm in Sussex by his uncle with him mum being the legal tenant. They remained in London though and only used the farm for weekends and holidays. To fire her sons minds she took them on cycling trips and encouraged them to take an interest in architecture by sketching buildings. Something must have stuck as Giles would go on to design scores of buildings from churches to colleges to war memorials to power stations and even the Guinness brewery.
I won’t bore you will his impressive list of achievements but you can look him up on the internet. He wasn’t knighted for nothing.
Giles was in his fifties when he was commissioned by the Post Office to update the old K2 kiosk (which weighed a ton, was too big and expensive to be used outside London.) He came up with the K6 which celebrated the Jubilee of King George V. It was 25% lighter in weight at three quarters of a ton. By the end of the 1930s there were 20,000 K6 telephone boxes in use all over the UK. Sadly there only approximately 10,600 remaining and when I see one I might go and stroke it a bit (only 1500 K2 kiosks remain.)
Giles was still working when he contracted lung cancer and was taken into University College Hospital in London. He took the design drawings with him and worked in bed until he died aged 79. Being a staunch Catholic he was buried by the monks of Ampleforth College outside the entrance of Liverpool Cathedral, alongside his wife (as a Roman Catholic he could not be buried inside the body of the Cathedral).
I spent about fifteen minutes near the grave but not one person entering/exiting the cathedral spared it a glimpse.
Heading up to the cathedral in Liverpool to see Giles’s grave…