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Police Call Box



This box #542 was said to have been located in the Eastern Districton
Preston St. just west of Edison Hwy



Based on the following Baltimore got it’s first Call Box in 1885

The first patrol wagon went into service on October 25, 1885 – and is beleived to make Baltimore the second patrol wagon in the country behind Chicago. The story goes; one day Deputy-Marshal Jacob Frey was reading an illustrated magazine, while in the gymnasium of Central’s Station when he saw facts on Patrol Wagons being used in Chicago. He brought the idea before the board of police commissioners; they were mildly interested. Frey didn’t give up on ideas that he believed in so he called the board’s attention to the matter again some weeks later. They had forgotten about it, but promised to look into it. Wagon’s and Police Telegraph Box Systems, were the future in Frey’s eyes, so after the legislation failed to act, the board “Marshal Frey” took matters into its own hands. He sent one of the members of the “Board” and “Marshal Gray” to Chicago to see how the “New Fanged” patrols wagons worked. They “Were Charmed” an old records states. And while there, they saw Chicago’s new “Police Telegraph Box” system. (Known now as the Callbox) the results of Baltimore’s trip, was both of these tools were in Baltimore by the fall of 1885. According to Baltimore’s Sun paper reports, Chicago was the first to use the Police Telagraph System, and Baltimore was the second department in this country to use this system. Baltimore continued using these boxes from 1885 untiul 1886 when they established a 1-800 number for police to use. All boxes were finally removed from service by 1989/90 when the final boxes were pulled from several secluded aresa in and around Baltimore.

An 1894 advertisement for the “Glasgow Style Police Signal Box System”, sold by the National Telephone Company. The first police telephone was installed in Albany, New York in 1877, one year after Alexander Graham Bell invented the device. Call boxes for use by both police and members of the public were first installed in Washington, DC in 1883; Chicago and Detroit installed police call boxes in 1884, and in 1885 Boston followed suit. These were direct line telephones placed on a post which could often be accessed by a key or breaking a glass panel. In Chicago, the telephones were restricted to police use, but the boxes also contained a dial mechanism which members of the public could use to signal different types of alarms: there were eleven signals, including “Police Wagon Required”, “Thieves”, “Forgers”, “Murder”, “Accident”, “Fire” and “Drunkard”.


The first public police telephones in Britain were introduced in Glasgow in 1891. These tall, hexagonal, cast-iron boxes were painted red and had large gas lanterns fixed to the roof, as well as a mechanism which enabled the central police station to light the lanterns as signals to police officers in the vicinity to call the station for instructions.


Rectangular, wooden police boxes were introduced in Sunderland in 1923, and Newcastle in 1925. The Metropolitan Police (Met) introduced police boxes throughout London between 1928 and 1937, and the design that later became the most well-known was created for the Met by Gilbert MacKenzie Trench in 1929.[6][7] Although some sources (e.g.) assert that the earliest boxes were made of wood, the original MacKenzie Trench blueprints indicate that the material for the shell of the box is “concrete” with only the door being made of wood (specifically, “teak”). Officers complained that the concrete boxes were extremely cold. For use by the officers, the interiors of the boxes normally contained a stool, a table, brushes and dusters, a fire extinguisher, and a small electric heater. Like the 19th century Glaswegian boxes, the London police boxes contained a light at the top of each box, which would flash as a signal to police officers indicating that they should contact the station; the lights were, by this time, electrically powered.

Sgt. Fisher Call Box

By 1953 there were 685 police boxes on the streets of London. Police boxes played an important role in police work until 1969-1970, when they were phased out following the introduction of personal radios. As the main function of the boxes was superseded by the rise of portable telecommunications devices like the walkie-talkie, very few police boxes remain in Britain today. Some have been converted into High Street coffee bars. These are common in Edinburgh, though the City also has dozens that remain untouched — most in various states of disrepair.


Edinburgh’s boxes are relatively large, and are of a rectangular plan, with a design by Ebenezer James MacRae, who was inspired by the city’s abundance of neoclassical architecture. At their peak there were 86 scattered around the city. In 2012, Lothian and Borders Police sold a further 22, leaving them owning 20. One police box situated in the Leicestershire village of Newtown Linford is still used by local police today.


The red police box, as seen at the Glasgow Museum of Transport In 1994 Strathclyde Police decided to scrap the remaining Glasgow police boxes. However, owing to the intervention of the Civil Defence & Emergency Service Preservation Trust and the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, some police boxes were retained and remain today as part of Glasgow’s architectural heritage. At least four remain—on Great Western Road (at the corner of Byres Road); Buchanan Street (at the corner of Royal Bank Place); Wilson Street (at the intersection of Glassford Street, recently completely restored); and one near the corner of Cathedral Square (at the corner of Castle Street, also recently restored). There was also a red police box preserved in the Glasgow Museum of Transport but this was returned to the Civil Defence Trust after Glasgow City Council decided it did not fit in with the new Transport Museum. The police boxes in Glasgow on Great Western Road is leased as a coffee and donut kiosk, Cathedral Square is leased as the “Tartan Tardis,” selling Scottish memorabilia, and Buchanan Street are currently under licence to a Glasgow-based ice cream outlet. As of November 2011, and restrictions are enforced by the Civil Defence & Emergency Service Preservation Trust to prevent the exterior of the boxes from being modified beyond the trademarked design.


The Civil Defence & Emergency Service Preservation Trust now manage eleven of the UK’s last “Gilbert Mackenzie Trench” Police Signal Boxes on behalf of a private collector. Another blue police box of this style is preserved at the National Tramway Museum, Crich, Derbyshire. One of the Trust’s boxes stands outside the Kent Police Museum in Chatham, Kent. and another at Grampian Transport Museum. An original MacKenzie Trench box exists in the grounds of the Metropolitan Police College (Peel Centre) at Hendon. There is no public access, but it can easily be seen from a Northern Line tube train travelling from Colindale to Hendon Central (on the left hand side).


In the City of London there are eight non-functioning police “call posts” still in place which are Grade II listed buildings. The City of London Police versions were cast iron rectangular posts, as the streets are too narrow for full sized boxes. One compartment contained the telephone and another locked compartment held a first aid kit.


Fifty posts were installed in the “Square Mile” from 1907; they were in use until 1988.


On Thursday 18 April 1996 a new police box based on the Mackenzie Trench design was unveiled outside the Earl’s Court tube station in London, equipped with CCTV cameras and a telephone to contact police. The telephone ceased to function in April 2000 when London’s telephone numbers were changed, but the box remained, despite the fact that funding for its upkeep and maintenance had long since been exhausted. In March 2005, the Metropolitan Police resumed funding the refurbishment and maintenance of the box (which is something of a tourist attraction, thanks to the Doctor Who association — see below). Glasgow introduced a new design of police boxes in 2005. The new boxes are not booths but rather computerized kiosks that connect the caller to a police CCTV control room operator. They stand ten feet in height with a chrome finish and act as 24-hour information points, with three screens providing information on crime prevention, police force recruitment and even tourist information. Manchester also has “Help Points” similar to those in Glasgow, which contain a siren that is activated upon the emergency button being pressed; this also causes CCTV cameras nearby to focus on the Help Point. Liverpool has structures similar to police boxes, known as police “Help Points”, which are essentially an intercom box with a push button mounted below a CCTV camera on a post with a direct line to the police.



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Photoshoped Baltimore Callbox
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1945 Automatic Flasher on Call Box






Officer on call box