The much-anticipated 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who is due to air across TV screens (and cinemas) in Britain tomorrow night. The Day of the Doctor has been much-talked about, especially since the release of the trailer in October and #SaveTheDay will no doubt be trending across Twitter once again this weekend. There are excited Whovians across the country – and we also have some fans at our head office who started thinking about the Tardis and its connection to our maps. As many people know, the real-life function of those boxes that the Tardis has adopted, was as a telephone call box connecting you to your local police station.
In the early 20th century, hundreds of police call boxes (PCBs) sat on street corners waiting to be used. As phone boxes became more common place (first the famous red design and now the more modern glass version) and then home phones and mobiles phones, the PCBs fell out of use.
However, many of them still exist around the country – and for those in their original locations, they are still on our mapping data. Some 203 PCBs are still marked on our maps, although only a fraction of those are recognisable as the Tardis that we still know and love today.
We plotted the locations of the 73 boxes that are still in place, in their original police call box locations, and similar in style to the Tardis using our OS OpenSpace mapping application. You can zoom in to see the exact locations – and we’re pleased to see England, Scotland and Wales represented. You’ll soon spot, as you zoom in on Scotland, that Glasgow and Edinburgh are home to the vast majority of boxes though.
Looking into some of them further, we’ve discovered one has become a coffee stall and another is marked as a public art gallery! Not only that, while the majority of PCBs on our map are painted blue, there are also red, green, grey and white versions out there.
Of course, there are more ‘real-life’ Tardis dotted around the country that aren’t shown on our mapping. That’s because they’ve been moved to museums, or have been built purely as a Tardis and were not functioning in that location as PCBs for us to capture in our mapping data – such as those at Earl’s Court, the BBC and so on.
Have a look at our OS OpenSpace map and see if there’s one near you – or maybe set yourself a challenge to visit them all and let us know how you get on!