Google’s UK homepage has been decorated with six animated red phone boxes – to mark the 140th birthday of Sir Gioles Gilbert Scott.
Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, born on November 9, 1880, was an English architect known for his work on the Cambridge University Library, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, Battersea Power Station, Liverpool Cathedral, and designing the iconic red telephone box.
Scott came from a family of architects. He was noted for his blending of Gothic tradition with modernism, making what might otherwise have been functionally designed buildings into popular landmarks.
Born in Hampstead, London, Scott was one of six children. His father was an architect, the son of Sir (George) Gilbert Scott, a more famous architect, known for designing the Albert Memorial and the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station.
When Scott was three, his father was declared to be of unsound mind and was temporarily confined to the Bethlem Royal Hospital. Consequently, his sons saw little of him.
A bequest from an uncle in 1889 gave the young Scott ownership of Hollis Street Farm, near Ninfield, Sussex, with a life tenancy to his mother. During the week Ellen Scott and her three sons lived in a flat in Battersea, spending weekends and holidays at the farm. She regularly took them on cycling trips to sketch buildings in the area, and encouraged them to take an interest in architecture.
Among the buildings the young Scott drew were Battle Abbey, Brede Place and Etchingham Church; Scott’s son, Richard Gilbert Scott, suggests that the last, with its solid central tower, “was perhaps the germ of Liverpool Cathedral”.
In 1901, while Scott was still a pupil, the diocese of Liverpool announced a competition to select the architect of a new cathedral.
In 1903, the assessors recommended that Scott, 22, should be appointed.
Scott continued to work on the project until his death, refining the design as he went. He designed every aspect of the building down to the fine details. The cathedral was finished in 1978, nearly two decades after Scott’s death.
Scott’s most ubiquitous design was for the General Post Office. He was one of three architects invited by the Royal Fine Arts Commission to submit designs for new telephone kiosks.
His design was in the classical style with a mausoleum style dome. It was the chosen design and was put into production in cast iron as the GPO’s “Kiosk no. 2” or “K2”.
Later designs adapted the same general look for mass production: the Jubilee kiosk, introduced for King George V’s silver jubilee in 1935 and known as the “K6”, eventually became a fixture in almost every town and village.
Scott remained working into his late 70s. He was working on designs for the Roman Catholic Church of Christ the King, Plymouth, when he developed lung cancer. He took the designs into University College Hospital, where he continued to revise them until his death aged 79.