Anyone strolling through Ormskirk this week would have been rather startled and taken aback by the sudden appearance of a red telephone kiosk adjacent to the Clock Tower. Heads swivelled as people passed the bright red obelisk daring to compete with the towering iconic stature of the town centre Clock.
It’s apparently not a permanent fixture and has shuffled across the street from outside the HSBC, where it had languished since the late 70s/early 80s. Quite where it had been before that has not been ascertained.
This particular kiosk is not as historically valuable as the grade 11 listed kiosk near to the TSB in Derby Street. The grade 11 listing was awarded because the Derby Street box is a ‘Jubilee Box’, so named as it was designed to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of George V and Queen Mary, our present Queen’s grandparents, in 1936. A gold Tudor Crown appears on all four sides of the kiosk close to the roof, although the gold painting of the crowns was a modern idea to accentuate the heritage value of these boxes, the crown was originally red.
In 1953 Queen Elizabeth had all crowns changed to the St Edward’s Crown, the Coronation crown and the kiosk on Moor Street has this crown, dating it to around 1953.
Ormskirk’s growing modern population living on the new estates around the outskirts of the town relied on these kiosks as their main form of emergency contact. Home phones were not a common service in many homes in the 1930s, 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s. The town was well served for kiosks though, with town centre ones at the (old) Bus Station on Knowsley Road, on Moor Street outside what is now Middleton’s cycles, three outside the main Post Office and further out there were boxes on Tower Hill, near Hallsworth’s, Thompson Avenue, outside Pigott’s and Dyers Lane as well as on County Road near the Fire Station and Scott Estate.
The essential service they provided meant that people have clear memories of the occasions when these kiosks played an important part in their lives whether it was ringing the midwife in the middle of the night, contacting the police in an emergency or just using it to ring school friends / sweethearts who were waiting outside their local box for a pre-arranged call.
Next time you pass your local kiosk take a moment to appreciate its iconic status and the role it has played in our developing world of technology.
Ormskirk Bygone Times have a mobile display available for any local group or event, the display covers a vast array of stories and histories of the townspeople and buildings