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Obituary: Bruce Martin (1917 – 2015)

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Architect and designer of the K8 telephone box Bruce Martin has died, aged 97

Martin was best known for his K8 telephone box which launched in 1968 and was the last of the General Post Office’s recognisable red-coloured phone boxes. His design followed Giles Gilbert Scott’s famous K6, paring down its 450 pieces to just 183.

Back in 2008, Twentieth Century Society director Catherine Croft described the kiosk as the ‘last good-looking red phone box’, at the time there were just 12 working examples left, from the 11,000 that were originally produced and the society was launching a campaign to get them listed.

Born in Clapham, Martin grew up in Portsmouth, where his father worked as an engineer for the admiralty.

He studied engineering in Hong Kong from the age of 16 before starting his architecture education at the Architectural Association. His studies were interrupted by the Second World War, when he worked on components for aircraft.  

After the war, Martin went on to work at Hertfordshire County Council after responding to an advert for young architects to join the department. He worked on 11 schools as part of the Hertfordshire Schools Programme and was responsible for the steel-frame system of the prefabricated buildings.

Martin was the last surviving member of the school-building team which included Mary Crowley, A.R. Garrod, W.D. Lacey, David Medd, Oliver Carey, Anthony Cox and WA Henderson.

Martin later went on to work for the British Standards Institution (BSI) where he furthered his ideas on modular construction.

In 1956 this interest in modular construction got him recognised as one of Astragal’s ‘Men of the Year’ (AJ 19.01.56). He was chosen ‘for his enthusiastic study of modular coordination problems’.

He left the BSI in the sixties and began a long teaching career at Cambridge School of Architecture while working as a sole-practitioner.

Martin’s wife Barbara, who was also an architect, died in 2001 and he is survived by his two children Susan and Jonathan.

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