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The Tardis is back on the streets of London

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1996-04-18 Evening Standard.jpg


DR WHO travelled the universe in one, while Pc George Dixon would say his cheery "evening all" from another.

Now, 27 years after they were phased out, the traditional police box, immortalised in the era of black and white television, returns in full colour to the streets of London.

In contrast to the original police boxes, the 1990s version comes bristling with new technology and mod cons, ranging from a kettle point to an all-round closed circuit TV camera, mounted on the roof where the blue light used to be and enabling the police officers inside to monitor the streets outside.

For the public, the box will provide a 24-hour help point with a direct telephone link to the local police station switchboard. The new Tardis, which lands today in the unlikely location of the Earl's Court Underground station to combat crime in the area, has been built according to original designs found in the Police Museum.

Painted in its familiar Metropolitan Police blue, it is uncannily similar to Dr Who's time-travelling machine from the BBC series. Police claim it is also vandal-proof, with a digital camera filming anyone entering or making telephone calls from the box.

The box, which will be able to accommodate two officers, is the brainchild of crime prevention officer Pc John Hodges. "Local businesses wanted to have a permanent police presence on the streets and we wanted to reduce the fear of crime in the area," he said.

"We could not afford that so I thought this would be something that people would identify with the police.

"I hope it will be a reassuring symbol for residents and visitors in the area. It has a nostalgic flavour but brings the latest technology to the heart of Earl's Court."

The idea has caught on with other police areas and if the Earl's Court box is successful, it could be adopted throughout the capital. Pc Hodges said: "It does seem to have started something. A lot of other areas are now talking about it and I hear that Harrods have asked for details about it. It could certainly be a tourist attraction."

Amid all the new technology, the old-fashioned idea of a kettle is to attract beat officers to pop in for a quick cup of tea rather than returning to the station.

The first boxes were introduced in Britain from America in 1888 and the first design which inspired the Tardis was set up in Newcastle in 1929. By the late Thirties, there were 703 boxes throughout the country.

The original boxes, which were made of concrete, were equipped with a phone linked to a local police station, an 80-watt heater and a light bulb.

They were phased out in 1969 when beat officers were issued with personal radios. The new boxes have been constructed from wood by London Underground carpenters.

The total cost of the new box is £30,000 — an increase on the £43 price of the original.

Present-day Pcs Matt Elsmore and Hazel George outside the new police box at Earl's Court with, below, former occupants Tom Baker and Lalla Ward from Dr Who

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  • APA 6th ed.: Davenport, Justin (1996-04-18). The Tardis is back on the streets of London. London Evening Standard p. 7.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Davenport, Justin. "The Tardis is back on the streets of London." London Evening Standard [add city] 1996-04-18, 7. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Davenport, Justin. "The Tardis is back on the streets of London." London Evening Standard, edition, sec., 1996-04-18
  • Turabian: Davenport, Justin. "The Tardis is back on the streets of London." London Evening Standard, 1996-04-18, section, 7 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=The Tardis is back on the streets of London | url= | work=London Evening Standard | pages=7 | date=1996-04-18 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=6 December 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=The Tardis is back on the streets of London | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=6 December 2023}}</ref>