The photo above is not a mockup. It’s not a joke. It’s a genuine sign in the corridor on the second floor of the Rayne Building at St Anne’s College, Oxford. I was at St Anne’s for a conference earlier this week.

The sign struck me as very odd… What can it mean?

  1. The electrical circuits are not strong enough to deal with the wattage of a kettle? (but why then are there kettles for conference guests in the rooms?)
  2. If you boil a kettle here it will be dangerous, and someone passing may trip over the cable? (the socket is near ground level)
  3. Kettles are banned in student rooms during term time, so don’t try to surreptitiously boil one in the corridor?
  4. It’s an ironic take on the UK’s rules-based, safety obsessed society?

If you know and can help me please do leave a comment!


  1. A.M. Wooster

    The correct interpretation is probably 1.

    I had endless trouble with the 13Amp. socket for a 3kVA immersion heater. I had to replace it three time in as many weeks. In the end I replaced it with an old fashioned 15Amp. round pin socket and had no further trouble.

    The problem with these 13Amp. flat pin plugs and sockets is that there are only two point contacts between each pin of the plug and the flat springs in the socket. This leads to the springs heating up even when run below rated load, which causes them to lose their temper (springyness) after which arcing occurrs and the plug burns out. It is a really dud design.

  2. Pedant

    One does not boli kettles generally anyway, one merely uses the kettle to boil WATER. I think it’s a student prank based on the crazy compensation culture we seem to have inherited these days.

  3. Steve Dalton

    it’s a notice to the police not to kettle a lot of people in the socket on a very hot day. Apart from the confined space and heat, there’s the potential for severe electric shock. Bearing in mind the recent student protests, it is a pre-emptive notice in case of anti-fee demos in that particular corridor

  4. Maybe it’s two sentances, but the “!” you can just see on the sign was mis-printed in subscript for some reason:

    – “It’s dangerous to use!” – a friendly moral lesson in life for the students. Using people breeds resentment which will come back to haunt you.

    – “This socket for boiling kettles” – boil your kettle in the corridor so your corridor-mates know you’re taking a break to make a brew.

    It’s these little things – life lessons in surprising places, neighbours sharing cups of tea – that make for a truly great corridor.

  5. Edith Grove

    Obviously these signs are supposed t be everywhere. I’ve always found boiling kettles dangerous…. Boiling water less so…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *