Glasgow Police Boxes

Take Off (Detail)

Way back in 2004 or so, while playing with this newfangled thing called ‘making a webpage’, I put together a wee photo list of all the surviving police boxes on Glasgow’s streets (I like lists; I’ve got one of those brains).

[Aside: I also like lists you can complete, which was a bit of a mistake when I tried to do the same thing with Scotland’s cinemas, which at 1,140 and still counting is definitely another story…]

It seems that this old page quickly became the top hit when you google ‘Glasgow Police Boxes‘, and I started getting asked questions, and treated like some kind of police box expert – which of course I was, but only because I was a life-long Doctor Who fan that lived in Glasgow; you kind of get used to police box spotting…

Glasgow once had 323 boxes; by 1994 there were still ten remaining on the streets.
In 2008, there were four. Of those, all but one were listed buildings, giving them some protection from demolition or unsympathetic alteration. So when I got an email sometime in 2008 asking for my professional (!) opinion as to whether the remaining box should also get listed status, I was delighted to be able to contribute, and it was successfully listed.

All four main Glasgow boxes are now Category B listed buildings. Originally, Glasgow police boxes were painted pillar-box red, rather than police blue, because they were maintained by the Post Office. Sadly, all of the ones you can see on the street have succumed to creeping Dr Who-ism, and are now TARDIS-style blue… Ignore anything it tells you on Doctor Who, but the boxes were concrete, not wooden – only the right-hand door, the only one that opened, was made of wood.

Since the initial page was put up, three of the boxes (Byres Rd, Buchanan St and Cathedral) were converted into coffee kiosks (much like many of the uniquely-styled Edinburgh boxes). I know I like a bad pun better than most, but even I found the name of ‘Coppuchino‘ a bit much. All of these have since closed however; thankfully the external alterations were pretty minimal.

Anyway, a quick roundup of Glasgow’s TARDIS-style police boxes, as of May 2011…

The Buchanan Street Box

This box is in good condition, but has been annoyingly repainted a few times over the years (once with polka-dots, later in an almost Dalek-like gold and black), and recently was covered in advertising bill-boards, which is a bit of a pain. When it’s not covered up, it looks great, and you can often see kids and tourists having their pictures taken next to it…

Buchanan St Box (front)

[Link to listed building description]

The Wilson Street Box

This box once stood on an island in the centre of the road, with rather nice cast iron railings surrounding the steps down to to some underground toilets. This was the last box on the street to retain its orignal red colour; in 2009 it was removed, refurbished, and repainted. The new internal illumination looked great at night, although the red sign on the telephone door looks very odd against a blue background!

In 2010, the whole street area was dug up and re-surfaced; as part of this, the underground toilets were (sadly) filled in, and the box itself was moved to the side of the street. Currently, the exterior of the box looks quite good, but some of the window panels are sadly smashed.

Wilson Street re-positioned box

[Link to listed building description]

The Cathedral Square Box

This box’s blue paint is peeling off, revealing its red-painted origins. Oddly, it’s without any form of lamp, but is otherwise in not bad nick.

Cathedral Street Box

[Link to listed building description]

The Botanic Gardens Box

This box looked quite good when it was in operation as a coffee kiosk, with a flashing light fitted into its lamp housing, which helped to draw attention to it. Since the kiosk closed however, the door in particular has stated to deteroriate quite quickly, and the condition of this box is perhaps the worst of all the four main boxes…

Byres Road Box

[Link to listed building description]

The Transport Museum Box

Glasgow’s Transport Museum in the Kelvin Hall had a red Police Box on display up until it closed last year. This box was in need of restoration, but still looked pretty good. Since the museum closed, the box has been in storage. The brand new, multi-million-pound transport museum is due to open in June this year, and it’ll be interesting to see if it includes the police box once again…

NewImage

The Junkyard Box

“Let me get this straight. A thing that looks like a police box, standing in a junkyard, it can move anywhere in time and space?”

This box, sitting in an industrial estate in the north of the city, is awaiting a new home – and is rather wonderfully camoflaged against the red background!

Partially-working Chameleon Circuit

 

Other Glasgow Boxes

There were 10 boxes surviving in 1994; the whereabouts of all of them is unclear. 6 are accounted for above; Summerlee Museum also apparently has a box; and a number of Glasgow boxes have been shipped south to appear in museums and represent their southern progenitors (including one at the the Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings [originally from Maryhill!], and one at Kent Police Museum).

There’s a box at Grampian Transport Museum apparently as well…

More about Police Boxes:

The Civil Defense & Emergency Service Preservation Trust [Owner of several of the boxes]

Police Boxes map – great Google map showing where original and replica boxes can be found around the UK.

Police Signal Boxes- A 100 year history – really useful overview bit of research

Police box history @ Mindrobber.co.uk – fantastic overview of police box history that inspired me to write this post!

And don’t even get me started on the Edinburgh ones…

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About Gordon Barr

Old buildings fan, ex-scientist, software dev, old cinemas buff, occasional boffin & cow-wrangler. Too many books, too few bookshelves.
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15 Responses to Glasgow Police Boxes

  1. John.Walker says:

    Fantastic, does anyone know who owns them now ?

  2. Ward Westwater says:

    Me

  3. J says:

    Great little page! I came on to originally research the origins of the “new” red police box currently being used by the evening times in the middle of sauchiehall street, I hope it’s the one from summer lee! Not seen it since the refurb. Any ideas?

    • J says:

      unfortunately I don’t have any photos of it! but! as a past employee if both Sumerlee and currently the herald and evening times I know that both the herald and the times have sponsored (full vinyl wrap etc ) the tram rides for the last few years at Sumerlee, Ive asked about in work but cant confirm anything I just made the leap that it would make sense for them to use / buy / lease the junk yard police box, also it was RED! unlike the rest of the ones about! not sure if its a full time install or if its a temp. still pretty nice!

  4. Trev says:

    Hi, the red Police Box on Sauchiehall Street is the one from the Transport Museum. As far as I can gather, there never was a Police Box at Sumerlee. I visited earlier this year and couldn’t find one. However, I did find 6 of them on the streets of Glasgow. 🙂

    • Ward Westwater says:

      I did loan a police box to Summerlee in 1996. They lifted it incorrectly and tore the roof off. The box at Sauchiehall Street is the Box I had at the Transport Museum in Glasgow. I own the last MacKenzie Trench Design boxes in the UK.

      • Trev says:

        Hi Ward, been meaning to try and contact you for a while. Would be grateful if you could email me on tardis @ policebox.uk
        I run a web site about the location of Police Boxes and would very much like to chat to you.
        Hope Gordon doesn’t mind me asking on here.
        Thanks.

      • Trev says:

        Whoops! somehow got two replies posted here. Darn it!

  5. Andrew Chalmers says:

    I thought the Sauchiehall Street one was owned by a guy called Peter? As per Gumtree ad at the time.

  6. Angus White says:

    I am interested in finding out who owns the police boxes in Glasgow (Buchanan street, Sauchiehall street) – can anyone help and email me back? Thanks

  7. Ward Westwater says:

    I do.

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