Overview of the restoration process from procurement in the UK to completion in New Zealand.


While we all associate the K6 telephone box as a British icon, the fact is that 50,000 of the original 60,000 produced have now been scrapped. In 2009 Murray Wilkey was able to rescue 14 telephone boxes located in various yards from in and around the UK.

Into Storage

After being exposed to the elements for decades, the phone boxes are moved inside awaiting shipment to New Zealand.

Quick Clean Up

In 2012 the phone boxes were taken out of storage and given a thorough clean to ensure they cleared New Zealand customs without any issues. The phone boxes were then loaded into a container and shipped to New Zealand.

Shipped by NZ Van Lines Ltd.

Acid Bath

Now in New Zealand the first step is 7 day acid bath to remove the old red lead paint and glazing compounds.

Acid dipping by Kiwi Metal Polishers Ltd, Rotorua.

Welding Repairs

To ensure the boxes stand the test of time any imperfections, cracks and broken window frames were carefully welded.

Welding repairs by Contract Mechanical Services Ltd, Tauranga.

Sandblasted and Primed

After the boxes had undergone a comprehensive check of their strength, the sand blasting could commence. After many hours of heavy labour sandblasting the boxes were undercoated with two coats of expoxy paint.

Sandblasting and painting by Problast Ltd, Tauranga.

Waterproof Sealing

Finding all exposed joints and holes in the boxes was tricky, but necessary to apply a sealant ready for painting.

Finishing Top Coats

Colour is key. With the boxes now starting to resemble why this project first started, the phone boxes are given two coats of high gloss ‘BS 539’ red paint. – Don’t they look great, but not finished yet!…

Fitting of New Glass and Glazing Frames

New and improved 6mm thick toughened glass panels were installed using new aluminium glazing frames. Each box required 72 frames and many man hours to ensure every last one was fitted correctly.

Aluminium glass frames by Silverstream Foundry Ltd, Tauranga.

Glass panels by Glen Glass Ltd, Tauranga.

Royal Crown Restoration and New Telephone Signs

Remembering the heritage of the K6 telephone box, gold leaf paint was used to the restore the Royal Crowns. Although using gold paint on the crown was only introduced in the early 1990’s, prior to this the red paint was used to cover the box and the crown alike.

A local New Zealand designer was commissioned to create new ‘telephone’ signs.

Telephone signs by Hancock Signs, Tauranga.