Photographer and Doctor Who fan Paul Dykes has started a new photography project he’s calling “Ghost Monuments” – photo composites using a 3D model of a Gilbert MacKenzie Trench police box, rematerialising them in their former locations across London.
Best known today as the damaged “chameleon” appearance of the Doctor’s TARDIS in Doctor Who, a police box is a public telephone kiosk or callbox for the use of members of the police, or for members of the public to contact the police.
To his delight, Paul discovered there used to be one right next to what is the modern UNIT HQ in the BBC show – the Tower of London.
“In a couple of cases, I found out much later that what I had thought were police boxes were actually police posts,” he noted on Twitter earlier this week. “… In other cases, the landscape has changed since the police box had been removed.”
This box, for example, appears to have occupied a niche, back from the pavement’s edge.
Police boxes were used in the United Kingdom throughout the 20th century from the early 1920s. The interior of the box was, in effect, a miniature police station for use by police officers to read and fill in reports, take meal breaks and even temporarily hold detainees until the arrival of transport.
A few actual police boxes still exist, some, for example, in Glasgow, retained as part of Glasgow’s architectural heritage; and there is a police box based on the Mackenzie Trench design Earl’s Court tube station in London, built in 1996.
PoliceBoxes.co.uk is a project to collate photographs of Metropolitan Police Boxes in their original location in London. The ‘Doctor Who’ type design by Gilbert MacKenzie Trench featured mainly in London from 1929. By 1953 there were 685 police boxes on the streets of London