Prof Esther Johnson’s photo book ‘The Beacons of Hull’ launch – 30 June 2023

3 images showing the cream coloured phone boxes in Hull and the book cover

Today sees the launch of Professor Esther Johnson‘s new photo book ‘The Beacons of Hull‘.

The Beacons of Hull is the story of the K8 telephone kiosk and its unique-to-Hull Honeysuckle Cream variant, as told and photographed by Professor Esther Johnson.

In February 2023 nine rare K8 phone kiosks in and around Hull were listed at Grade II by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England and The Twentieth Century Society.

“The K8 was designed in 1965-66 by architect Bruce Martin who was commissioned by the General Post Office, owners of the public telephone network. In contrast to the intricate glass panelling of Giles Gilbert Scott’s iconic K2 and K6 boxes, it is notable for its modern and minimalist appearance, which made it simpler to repair and maintain. The K8 kiosk is the last generation of the classic public telephone box. Between 1968 and 1983 11,000 K8s were installed across the UK. However, there are only around 50 remaining in their original position as most of them were removed by British Telecom following its privatisation in 1984. They were replaced by the sleek silver KX100 kiosk, which in turn were made virtually obsolete by the proliferation of mobile phone ownership.” Historic England

“I come from the land of Ships in the Sky, Chip Spice, and cream-coloured telephone boxes*. This land is of course Hull in East Yorkshire, and we don’t just have the ubiquitous Giles Gilbert Scott red K6 (kiosk number 6) telephone kiosks commissioned by the General Post Office (GPO); in fact, the city and surrounding area boasts the largest cluster of the more modern K8s that survive across the UK. There are thirty-seven in Hull, plus eight in the surrounding area, in comparison to approximately thirty in total elsewhere across the country.”  Esther Johnson . 

*The former Hull Corporation Phone Department (launched 1904) decided that the kiosks in Hull would be painted cream, and as the corporation was not national or Crown property, they were installed without a crown on the top.

Image provided by Professor Esther Johnson

Words and pictures by Esther Johnson @blanche_pictures (insta) @blanchepictures (Twitter)

Design by Oberphones @oberphones (insta)

Softcover, 48 pages,

Colour and B+W


Published 2023

For more information and to purchase the book (priced at £8.00), please visit The Modernist website here.


Esther Johnson would like to thank the following for their assistance with the publication of this booklet: the Art, Design and Media Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University; Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings; BT Digital Archives; Franc Genley; Richard Hollis; Barbara and Graham Johnson; Ian Midgley at KCOM Group; the modernist society; Christopher Wilson