History in Structure

Former police call box

A Grade II Listed Building in King's Lynn, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.7596 / 52°45'34"N

Longitude: 0.4235 / 0°25'24"E

OS Eastings: 563634

OS Northings: 320757

OS Grid: TF636207

Mapcode National: GBR N3K.ZVY

Mapcode Global: WHJP1.GWXS

Plus Code: 9F42QC5F+VC

Entry Name: Former police call box

Listing Date: 17 November 2022

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1478659

ID on this website: 101478659

Location: Gaywood, King's Lynn and West Norfolk, Norfolk, PE30

County: Norfolk

Electoral Ward/Division: Old Gaywood

Built-Up Area: King's Lynn

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk


Former police call box, erected around 1935 and manufactured by Boulton and Paul of Norwich.


Former police call box, erected around 1935 and manufactured by Boulton and Paul of Norwich.

EXTERIOR: The former police call box is a single-storey building, rectangular on plan, with a pitched roof and timber-boarded walls. The timber-boarded roof structure survives, however it has lost its roof covering and has a temporary tarpaulin covering. The front (east) and rear (west) gables each feature a triangular pediment with dentil moulding, and the timber-boarded walls are articulated with plain engaged pilasters. The front elevation has a central door, the top part of which contains a 9-light fixed window; either side of the door are remains of doors to cupboards which previously contained a public telephone to phone the local police station (left side) and a first aid kit (right side). The side elevations each have two 9-light fixed windows.

INTERIOR: the interior walls and floor are timber boarded. To the right of the door, an interior cupboard box (the former first aid station) is suspended from the wall and retains one internal shelf.


A police call box was erected at the junction of Wootton Road, Rosebery Avenue and Methuen Avenue around 1935, and was manufactured by Boulton and Paul of Norwich. Police signal posts first appeared on the streets of London in the 1880s and allowed the policeman on the beat to keep in touch with his local station. These developed to become boxes containing a first aid kit, desk and logbook, and provided a resting point for the weary policeman or a temporary holding cell for those awaiting transport to the local station. Early boxes had a remote-controlled gas lamp to attract the attention of the passing patrol, and these gas lamps were later replaced by an electric lamp, and later, air raid sirens during the Second World War. Regional variations abounded, and some boxes such as that on Wootton Road had a telephone which the public could use to call the nearest police station. Concrete police boxes were launched in London in 1929, and by the early 1960s there were nearly 700 across the capital. The advent of two-way radios and quick-response patrol cars rendered the police call box redundant; in 1969 the Home Secretary ordered the removal of London’s boxes, and those in England’s cities, towns and rural communities followed.

A number of police call boxes were introduced in the villages surrounding King’s Lynn in the mid-1930s. An article published in ‘Lynn News and County Press’ in 1937 highlighted that ‘the police box telephones are at the disposal of the general public by day and night for fire and other emergency calls or any genuine inquiry on which the police are generally consulted.’ The call box at Wootton Road was manufactured by Boulton and Paul Ltd, a Norwich-based manufacturing company that had originated as an ironmonger's shop in 1797. During the C19 it became an iron-founders, a wire netting manufacturer, and also constructed prefabricated wooden buildings, notably producing the huts for Scott's Antarctic expedition. During the Second World War the firm was a major producer of prefabricated buildings, wire netting and wooden sub-assemblies of aircraft. Their varied designs are well represented on the List, including a conservatory at Carrow House in Norwich (1895, listed at Grade II*), a cabman’s shelter at Ripon, North Yorkshire (1911, listed at Grade II), and a motor car house near Guildford (1920s, listed at Grade II). An illustrated advertisement by the firm in 1938 helps us identify the Wootton Road example as a ‘B309 Police Box’. We know from historic photographs (many of which are published on the ‘Tardis Builders’ website) that B309 police boxes stood elsewhere in King’s Lynn, Norwich and St Albans, to name but a few, however the Wootton Road box appears to be the last known surviving example in situ.

The police call box is marked as ‘PCB’ on the 25-inch Ordnance Survey (OS) map, published in 1967, with a boundary line enclosing the box within the garden of 60 Wootton Road. 60A Wootton Road was constructed soon after, and an article published in the Lynn Advertiser in October 1967 records that the then owner of 60A Wootton Road applied to Lynn Town Council for planning permission to use the former police call box as a playroom. Permission was later granted for the use of the former call box as a garden shed, and the box was turned around to open into the garden.

Reasons for Listing

The former police call box, erected around 1935 and manufactured by Boulton and Paul of Norwich, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:
* for its design by Boulton and Paul Ltd, one of the most important and prolific manufacturers of prefabricated buildings and indeed of buildings constructed in parts;
* for its rarity as the last known surviving example of a building type once common in towns, villages, and at rural crossroads across East Anglia.

Historic interest:
* as an important reminder of England’s policing past, and developments in police communications in rural areas and villages in the C20;
* as a further reminder of the historic interest of Boulton and Paul’s diversity of work - some types such as small tin churches being exported all over the world – the company notably also producing the huts for Scott’s Antarctic expedition.

External Links

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