K is for Kiosk

Telephone KioskFor me, and other people of a certain age, the word kiosk conjures up an image of the red telephone box, like the one featured here.

It was in one of these kiosks that I learned how to use the old A-B coin box telephones. This was deemed to be a necessary skill for a boy scout to learn in case of emergencies, although I’m not sure I could remember how to use one now.

For the record the box in the photo stands outside the market hall in Ashton. It is a Grade II listed K6 telephone kiosk designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott that was introduced in 1935 to celebrate the silver jubilee of King George V. I sure he would have preferred a gold clock or a pair of cufflinks.

Sadly, the old kiosks are few and far between. With phones becoming ubiquitous in the home and then the advent of the mobile phone, public call box became more and more unnecessary. The one above is now a Grade I listed building.

The word kiosk comes from the Turkish and Persian for a small, open pavilion, similar to the Hippodrome on the right in Constantinople.

The Kiosk, AshtonIt came to refer to small shopping booths open to the pavement on one or more sides and selling small goods, such as tobacco and newspapers, to the customer on the pavement.

I saw quite a few of this variety while on holiday recently, some on the concourse at Schipol railway station and others on the waterfront in Cape Town selling ice-cream, pizzas and other snacks.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of those, so we’ll have to make do with this shop above, also in Ashton, which calls itself The Kiosk.

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10 comments… Add yours
  • Sylvia Kirkwood 30th March 2011

    Great post for the K Day! Love your photos! Did bring back memories of those phone booths here in the states, don’t see that many any more. I didn’t realize the Kiosk was originally a Turkish/Persian word! Wonderful what we learn on the web and from others that we meet there. I love it!! Hope you’re enjoying a great week!

    ABC Team

  • rog 30th March 2011

    These days, kiosk in the US is a designated space in a shopping mall hallway. Your kiosk is much kooler.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  • Tumblewords 30th March 2011

    I remember them – seems like there was never a phone book available and I never had the correct change! Much nicer in retrospect and your photo is superb!

  • Su-sieee! Mac 30th March 2011

    I didn’t know that a telephone booth was a kiosk. I like that. I’ve known them as booths to get information, or to buy newspapers, or to buy junk at a shopping mall.

  • Jennyta 30th March 2011

    Do you also remember those little ‘I-Spy’ books? One of them was on street furniture (don’t suppose they called it that then) and I do remember looking out for pillar boxes from reigns of different monarchs. Victorian ones were the ones to spot.

  • Reader Wil 30th March 2011

    Kiosk is a great word for the letter K. In Dutch a kiosk is a kind of newspaper or bookstall, where cigarettes and sweets are sold as well. Funny how the same word gets different meanings in other languages.
    Thanks for your visit.

  • Mr Parrot 30th March 2011

    Thanks all for your comments.

    Jenny: I do remember I-Spy books and had quite a collection. Didn’t there used to be an I-Spy column in the Daily Express?

    Wil: It was the kiosks at Schipol Airport railway terminal that made me think of it as a subject.

  • Gattina 30th March 2011

    In Belgium you used to buy your newspaper in Kiosks, now they have all disappeared.
    ABC Team

  • Joy 30th March 2011

    Gosh the A-B button, that brings back some memories, and the timing required. We still have quite a few of the old ones in the villages here, I say thank goodness for mobile phones.

  • Meryl 30th March 2011

    Why is it that I just love those old kiosks? They are just so cool. Maybe it’s the red color? Regardless, great post.


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