Vworp, vworp

In some ways it seems as if I've only just arrived in London; in others, it's like I've been here forever. But I now have just under a week left here, so I'm racking up a lot of "last times".1 Today was the last time I visited British Library Newspapers at Colindale, which is where I've spent most of my time, actually -- nearly every day there for the first month, the odd day or two since then.

So, to mark this occasion, here's a picture of a TARDIS:

Hendon police box

Perhaps I should explain ... technically it's not a TARDIS but an actual police box (which almost nobody would remember these days if not for Doctor Who), apparently of a slightly later model than that mimicked by the TARDIS. It's in the grounds of Hendon Police College (AKA the Peel Centre), and can be seen on the eastern side of the Northern line between Hendon Central and Colindale stations. That's why it's so blurry: I took it from a moving train! Anyway, I used to look out for this every day on my way to BL Newspapers and my own personal form of time travel ...

Bonus! Here's the other extant London police box that I know of, though it was only built in the 1990s. It's just outside Earl's Court tube.

Earl's Court police box

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  1. Though also still a number of firsts: yesterday was the first time I wandered past Buckingham Palace. For those non-Australians who might not know, Buckingham Palace is where the Queen of Australia lives when she is not back home. It's a nice enough little holiday house; though I did wonder why the Union Jack was flying and not the Australian flag -- seems rather un-Australian, if you ask me. []

10 thoughts on “Vworp, vworp

  1. There's one in Glasgow's West End, opposite Byers Road. I saw it there a few weeks ago when I went up for a conference, much to my surprise. Ah, a picture.

    I didn't notice at the time but apparently it's now been turned into a kiosk selling coffee. Hmm.

  2. Chris Williams

    There are quite a few left in Edinburgh. Many of those have also become kiosks by now. A very fine historian by the name of Jack Bunker is about to finish a book about police boxes, which ought to be worth a read - and not just by people like me who are obsessed with the history of police communication systems.

  3. Yes, there's nice coffee-converted one in St Patrick's Square in Edinburgh. There's also, I'm fairly certain, still one in Buchanan Street right in the centre of Glasgow. It fell into a terrible state but was not, to my knowledge, ever removed. It went through a phase of being a coffee stall too, but last time I was there it had been filled with touch-screens and the likes to provide, eh....'Tourist Information' (sorry, sound of ex-Glasgow dweller stifling cheap laugh...)

  4. Post author

    Yeah, I saw that Scotland is the place to go for police boxes. I'm going to Edinburgh soon, but theirs apparently aren't TARDIS-style ones. There are lots of those in Glasgow, but that's not enough reason to go there :)


    Well, now I'm curious! In 100 words or less, and assuming that Doctor Who never existed, just what is the historical significance of the police box?

  5. Jakob

    There's one just outside Earl's Court tube as well - IC's student television station would always use footage of this when Dr. Who came up...

  6. Chris Williams

    vworp, vworp!

    Don't mess with me about police boxes - my cellar is one. No, really.

    Anyhow, I think that the police box is a technologisation of the old 'fixed points' system of bureacratic supervision. It's very different to the system of central dispatching (the one what owed a lot in the UK to air defence system heritage) and has been superseded by it, although the police box itself is a suprisingly late innovation.

    It's actually police communication systems that got me into all this air defence malarkey. All will be revealed with footnotes just as soon as I can get my temporal stasis machine to produce a subjective fortnight, giving me enough time to re-write the article for re-submission to _Technology and Culture_. Real Soon Now.

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