The Edinburgh police box

Update, Dec 2017: my latest visit to Edinburgh yielded two more police boxes (George Square | Little King Street), plus pics of the Barnton box from every angle. Sadly, it’s still in pretty poor shape, while the Barnton hotel has been transformed into nine boutique flats for the over 55s(!) and the garage site is now home to a block of retirement flats. The Royal Mile police box, now a ticket booth, is one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in Europe per square foot, but this form of reuse can be challenging. Latest: @Leithpolicebox and Leith Walk Police Box – same? See also the Japanese kōban (more).

I bagged two old Edinburgh police boxes on my visit in December:

It turns out they are a thing! Next sighted on a post on Urban Ghosts, which led me onwards to Planet Edinburgh’s cultural historyThe Edinburgh Reporter’s collection, a map and Flickr album.

My box was the Barnton Box. I could have sworn it wasn’t there the last time I passed, nearly three years ago, but Wikimedia Commons has a picture from April 2006, and here’s now, or at least June 2014, courtesy of Google Street View. It looks rather unloved. (And WTF is going on with the Barnton Hotel and the petrol station?)

It just goes to show how you stop noticing things when you walk past them every day. Now I just need to find an older picture with the 20 bus stop outside, maybe a 1970s Google Street View, with me, my brother and my mother waiting for the bus.

Next time there’s a sell-off I might even be tempted. After all, there’s a red phone box in the garden of a house at Friheden, so why not an Embra police box too? (Turns out you can rent a phone box, should you want to.)

a red phone box - now how did that get there?

a red phone box – now how did that get there?

And what do you know, this weekend sees the Edinburgh Police Box Festival (@Edinburgh_box; #policeboxfestivalFacebook; mapstory), celebrating this iconic piece of street furniture and its new eclectic uses. Now that’s what I call a festival.

Updates: and now there’s the Embra police box book, aka From cuffs to community by Dane-in-Edinburgh @Photina_dk. I’m sure it’s gorgeous osv, but at £25 that’s Danish prices. You can take the girl out of Denmark…The Police Box on Drum Brae, open on Doors Open weekends (lots more police box news)…Lost Edinburgh


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