It should come as no surprise to any American citizen that they do many things quite differently in the United Kingdom (aka, Great Britain, aka, England) than they do here in the United States. They drive on the left side of the road, their buses are double-tiered and painted bright fire engine red, they have Parliament instead of Congress, etc.

an old vintage phone and phone cord - What color paint is used on all public phone booths and mailboxes in England

What color paint Is used on all public phone booths and mailboxes in England? One iconic symbol of Great Britain includes the country’s distinctively painted bright red mailboxes and public phone booths.

What is the story behind these famous elements of the U.K.’s culture?

Who Designed the Red Telephone Boxes Found in England?

Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (1880-1960) is credited with the original design of what came to be known as the distinguished red British telephone boxes. Scott was born into a family of renowned British architects and is also known as the designer of the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, the Battersea power station, and the Bankside power station (today known as the Tate Modern).

Scott initially began with a classical design, later adding the famous domed roof, which is likely to have been inspired by Sir John Soane’s tomb located in the St. Pancras Church in London. Visitors can view Scott’s original design for the phone box at the entrance of London’s Royal Academy. 

Are There Still Red Phone Booths in London?

With the advent of mobile telephones, the number of active red phone kiosks has significantly dropped in recent years, but they are still found around all over England, including in London, as well as in current and former British colonies. Some are even protected under British law, at least for the time being.

What Color Are Mailboxes in England?

Britain’s famous “pillar” mailboxes began to be painted red in the mid-1870s. Over the next decade or so, red became the standardized color for post boxes in the U.K. The British Post Office originally introduced the red phone kiosks to the streets of Britain.

What Color Are Mailboxes in Other Countries?

While Britain is known for its red mailboxes, blue, yellow, and green are colors of choice for mailboxes in other countries. Many European countries feature yellow mailboxes, while China’s are primarily green. In the United States and Russia, they are predominantly blue in color.

How Often Is Mail Delivered in England?

It used to be that, at least in London, mail was delivered up to twice daily, including on major holidays, like Christmas.

Currently, similar to in the United States, the Royal Mail service in England delivers and collects mail every weekday, as well as on Saturdays, but not on bank holidays. Mail is usually delivered late in the morning, but sometimes in the early afternoon.

a red mailbox and red phonebooth in a London, England park - What Color Paint Is Used on All Public Phone Booths and Mailboxes in England?

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Do Payphones Still Exist in the U.K.?

Yes, Payphones still exist in the UK, and they’re not all bright red. Around 5,000 red telephone boxes are left out of the 31,000-some total number of payphones in Great Britain. 

The telecommunications company that owns the red phone kiosks (a company known as British Telecom, or BT) has been advocating for the iconic kiosks to be converted into news/snack kiosks, used book exchanges, and even some photo studios. Many charities and other local groups have been offered ownership of the boxes for only £1 each (about $1.25 USD when I wrote this article).

Who Owns the Red Phone Boxes in England?

At one point, Britain’s red phone boxes numbered nearly 100,000 in total. As mentioned, a company known as British Telecom (BT) owns the boxes, which have been continuing to decrease in numbers.

What Color Are the Phone Boxes in Hull, United Kingdom?

Yorkshire, U.K. Back in 1936, Hull did not accept the red color for their phone boxes, and the city adopted green and cream-colored phone kiosks. Now all of Hull’s phone boxes bear the distinctive cream color.

Why are Phone Boxes Cream-colored in Hull?

When the red telephone boxes were originally adopted, and in the contrarian spirit boasted of in the port city of Hull, the city adopted green and cream-colored phone kiosks, as previously mentioned.

Why Are Some Telephone Boxes in London Green?

Some of the iconic red phone kiosks in London have started to “go green” (known as “solarboxes”) taking on a bright green color, as they’ve been transformed into solar phone chargers offered as a free carbon-neutral service around the city.

What Was the Original Color of British Telephone Boxes?

When England’s famous red phone boxes began to emerge, red was chosen as a color that was easy to spot from a distance. Other colors of the phone boxes have included green and cream-colored, based on preferences of certain British municipalities (e.g., Hull).

Are the Iconic British Red Telephone Boxes Ever Going to Be Fully Retired?

Unfortunately for fans and nostalgic aficionados of the British red phone kiosks, they are more than likely on their way out, for good. Several rows of them can be found, rusting, cracking, and aging in a yard near Merstham, Surrey. 

There are no plans to destroy them completely, and they will likely be refurbished to go on and enjoy time in collectors’ homes abroad, with the majority of them likely ending up as sentimental fixtures in English backyards and patios.

Why is the “Dr. Who” Phone Box Blue Instead of Red?

The popular show known as “Dr. Who” involves British characters, and there is a unique blue callbox known as a TARDIS. This particular phone kiosk is a police box, which is meant for police use, or for public use to call the police.

The boxes were used in the U.K. during the 20th Century, from about the early 1920s on.  
Most blue police call boxes have been retired, but there are still between five and ten still in service, with one on display at the National Tramway Museum in Crich, Derbyshire.

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