Today we can hardly imagine what it is like, to be outside without any means of telecommunication at your disposal. No whatsapp, facebook, instagram, not even a telephone. To some it sounds like a horror story, but only a few decades ago this was normal.
It was in the days of the telephone booth, public telephones in bars, restaurants, railway stations, etc.
It was in the time that police blew wistles. Not to scare suspects, but to attrackt more police. In that same period there were these, mostly, blue police boxes on the streets of cities in the UK.
Now these boxes have all but disappeared and most people only know the police box from the Doctor Who series and films. So, having seen the Doctor’s Tardis and what is inside, it really made me wonder what is inside a real police box. Surely not a control room, living quarters, a swimming pool, bathroom, a sick bay, an ancillary power station disguised as an art gallery, several brick-walled storage areas, an observatory, a library, a greenhouse, a baby room, and several squash courts?
Fortunately I was able to study one of these police boxes on 2 occasions. First in oktober 2016, when I visited the Milton Keynes museum (http://www.miltonkeynesmuseum.org.uk/) and the second time was in april 2017, when I visited the Avoncroft museum of historic buildings (http://www.avoncroft.org.uk/).
And then I finally knew.
What was the TARDIS again?
The TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) is a spacecraft and time machine. It´s chameleon circuit permits it to assume different shapes, blending in with the scenery of the current place and time. That is unless the circuit is malfunctioning, which is the case with the Doctor´s TARDIS, leaving appearing as a 1960s London police box.
It famously is bigger on the inside than on the outside, having an unfinite number of rooms for various purposes.
The control room is the room that is most often depicted and is the first room you encounter, when entering the TARDIS.
The police box
It was not just a telephone booth for contacting the police. In fact, the telephone available, was accessable from the outside, by opening a small door.
The inside was not open to the general public. It was in fact a miniature police station, where a police officer could write reports and do other paper work, have a rest or a meal, and the box could even function as a temporaty jail.
The telephone was not just for the general public for contacting the police, but police officers could also report back tot he main police station with it.
A blue light on top was lit remotely to signal police officers to report in.
First off there is the small door, behind which is the public telephone. It is a simple panel with a speaker and microphone, which could be activated by pressing a button.
Now, we can open the double wooden door. These would have been locked, only to be opened by a police officer.
Behind these doors is a small room which is slightly smaller than the outside dimensions of the box itself! Really!
Not only that, but you can actually see outside through the ring of windows along the top of the box.
And instead of a console with buttons and lights there is a small wooden writing desk.
There was also a small stool, but I´m not sure that is original.
The only pieces of technology inside, are the small electric heater and a CB telephone, for contacting the police station.
My first encounter with a police box was at the Milton Keynes Museum for past, present and future. That last word got my hopes up and luckily I wore a long scarf, but alas I was not able to make the police box move through space and time in any other way than it already was. Perhaps there is a trick to it. Next time I will bring my sonic screwdriver.
If you have any tips, please leave them in the comments below.