INNOVATIVE USES FOR REDUNDANT
RED TELEPHONE BOXES
Libraries, art installations, life-saving defibrillators …
NEW LIFE FOR OLD PHONE BOXES
IN December SOUTH NORTHAMPTONSHIRE Council (SNC) received notification from British Telecom that it intended to remove 40 poorly used phone boxes in the district. The council consulted with the parish councils affected and, of the 39 that responded, 16 took up the offer to adopt a decommissioned kiosk for £1. Some said that they wished to repurpose the phone box to house a community defibrillator.
Only three parishes – Alderton, Paulerspury and Radstone – objected to the removal of their kiosks, while 21 either did not respond or did not object to the BT proposal. Councils that objected to removal were asked to provide additional evidence. OFCOM guidance states that grounds for objection include the prominence of privately rented or social housing, accident black spots or lack of mobile network coverage for emergency calls.
Cllr Karen Cooper, SNC’s portfolio holder for community engagement and well-being, said: “I am very pleased that some parishes have found a way to breathe new life into a British institution. SNC has in the past approved community grants for defibrillators and we will be inviting those adopting their phone boxes to apply.”
Clerks & Councils Direct March 2017
MEMBERS of PONTELAND Town Council in Northumberland have accepted plans by BT to remove three public phone boxes. Councillors were given data for two of the boxes, which showed that one had been used 107 times in the past 12 months and the other just 15 times. Another box had not been used at all. BT is proposing to remove dozens of phone boxes across the county.
Town and county councillor Richard Dodd said: “The red phone boxes look attractive; these ones do not. BT has to pay for their upkeep when most people these days have a mobile phone. I would say they are a thing of the past.” Other councillors agreed, adding that the boxes were often a target for vandalism.
Clerks & Councils Direct November 2016
ST ERVAN Parish Council in Cornwall is made up of two parishes, Rumford and Penrose, 10 miles west of Wadebridge, with a combined population of around 520 people. The council recently purchased two redundant telephone kiosks in the villages for £1 each and, with the help of the village hall committee, obtained a grant of £4,990 from the Trenouth Solar Farm Fund to purchase two defibrillators.
These have been installed in the kiosks by the Front Line Emergency Equipment Trust (FLEET), and the telephone signs replaced with signs reading ‘Defibrillator’. According to clerk Barry Jordan, the council bought paint recommended by BT for the job. Resident Rosie Simpkins repainted the kiosk in Rumford, and made sure that the Royal Crown was painted in gold.
Clerks & Councils Direct, July 2016
FEOCK Parish Council, near Truro in Cornwall, held a grand opening ceremony in late September in the village of Devoran for a decommissioned phone box, which has been converted to house a defibrillator. The equipment can be used by anyone in the event of a cardiac emergency. The council has provided free training in CPR and defibrillator use for residents.
Clerks & Councils Direct January 2016
VILLAGERS SHOW THEIR HEART
THE rural village of FORNCETT ST PETER has become the latest in Norfolk to install a public access defibrillator for use by the community. New residents Julia Hill and Keith Fromings led eight months of planning and fundraising, with support from the Community Heartbeat Trust. The defibrillator is housed in a redundant red telephone box, newly painted by the local volunteer group.
Fundraising for the project began last summer. Ms Hill, a nurse, was keen to have a defibrillator located in the centre of the village. A total of £2,000 was needed, and Forncett Parish Council offered to match any amount that project members could raise themselves.
Volunteers organised a coffee morning and a sale, and many residents donated. Local schoolchildren raised £150 from their pocket money, and a representative of the East of England Ambulance Service spoke to them at a special assembly.
A series of cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillator awareness sessions was arranged for villagers, and a “thank you” notice has been put up in the refurbished phone box listing the names of individuals and village organisations who contributed.
Clerks & Councils Direct, May 2015
MACHINES WITH LIFE-SAVING POTENTIAL
ADDINGTON Parish Council has adopted two redundant BT phone boxes and has installed defibrillators in each. One is sited in the village and one on a garage forecourt on a main road. Kent county councillor Sarah Hohler funded half of one of the units from her member’s grant, and she joined members of the parish council for the unveiling. The defibrillators have been registered with the emergency services and will be inspected each month by a qualified electrician.
Ringwood Town Council in Hampshire has also purchased a defibrillator for use by the public and has installed it on the outside wall of its Gateway building. To access the defibrillator, a first aider must ring 999 and will then be given a pass number to free the machine from its case.
The idea was proposed by Cllr Christine Ford, who said: “This is wonderful news. We know that access to a defibrillator in the first few minutes of a heart attack can save many more lives and, while I hope it will never be needed, I hope it provides some comfort to those people living in the town.”
Clerks & Councils Direct, January 2015
GOT IT LICKED
ON the Letters page in the September issue, Jane Pryce asked for information on paint for red telephone boxes. The people we use are X2 Connect: www.x2connect.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring the K6 Refurbishment Team on 01636 611110.
Karen Parsons, Clerk
Colne Parish Council, Cambridgeshire
Clerks & Councils Direct November 2014
I WAS reading your news story about new uses for old telephone boxes (“A response from the heart”, July issue). We at Greys have acquired a kiosk and I have been asked to look into doing something with it. It really needs a repaint, as the paint used previously has flaked off. Does anyone have any information on the type of paint to use? I'm new to the job – first month.
Jane Pryce, Clerk
Rotherfield Greys Parish Council, Berkshire
Clerks & Councils Direct September 2014
VILLAGERS in Pen-y-Fan, near TRELLECH in Monmouthshire, have turned their disused red telephone kiosk into a tourist information point. With the help of Trellech United Community Council, the box has been repainted in traditional red with gold crowns, and now contains an Ordnance Survey map and a local map to help visitors using the Wye Valley Walk, together with leaflets on points of interest and a board for local events and services.
Clerks & Councils Direct May 2014
TWO redundant red telephone boxes are to be turned into mini libraries by FELSTEAD Parish Council. The Essex authority bought the boxes from BT for £1 each after they were declared surplus to requirements. The two boxes, off Stebbing Road and Willow Green, will be stocked with books and local information. Parish council chairman Graham Harvey said: “We are hoping people will use them on a regular basis, and every time they take a book they will leave one behind.
Clerks & Councils Direct July 2013
VILLAGERS in CORELEY,Shropshire have converted their redundant red phone box into a miniature library. The box was erected nearly 80 years ago to mark the Silver Jubilee of King George V, but was sold off by BT for a pound. It now offers a rotating stock of about 50 books.
Clerks & Councils Direct November 2012
COUNCILS continue to be inventive in bringing redundant red telephone boxes back to life. In BELBROUGHTON, near Stourbridge, villagers have set up a Book Exchange in their old telephone box, from which villagers can borrow books and replace them with their own used volumes. “It’s self-perpetuating,” said Ruth Perry, who runs the exchange with neighbours and members of the village history society, which sprang into action to save the box when BT announced plans to remove it.
“We had to have an authorised body to take it over, so Belbroughton Parish Council became our underwriter and the history society purchased it from BT for a nominal £1,” said Mrs Perry, a retired teacher. “We wanted it to be useful, rather than decorative. I’m obsessed about children reading and I’m glad to see so many young people in the village using our library.”
At least 100 people use the book exchange regularly, recycling its stock of 200–300 books, and it has also proved popular with visiting cyclists and hikers. As a focal point for the village, it was decked out with bunting for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Villagers in BURROWBRIDGE in Somerset have also made their kiosk into a mini-library. Cllr David Fothergill, who contributed some of his own books, said: “This is a fantastic use for the old telephone box. Not only does it preserve an important part of the village’s appearance, it also provides locals with a good opportunity to swap books for free.”
Meanwhile a box in MELLIS, Suffolk has found a new lease of life as a “colour therapy room” for people searching for peace and quiet. The kiosk’s windows have been replaced with stained glass panels made by villagers, inspired by the flora and fauna of Mellis Common. The project was the idea of local artist Hilary Beal, and took 500 hours to complete. The finished work was unveiled by BBC journalist Martha Kearney.
Clerks & Councils Direct September 2012
A TELEPHONE box in CHECKENDON has been painted gold to mark the achievements of Great Britain’s Olympic athletes. Parish councillor Tim Corbishley used three tins of paint to transform the box – bought by the council from BT for £1 last year – from its traditional red colour. Cllr Corbishley joked: “If I had done this at any other time than the Olympics, it would be seen as criminal damage.”
Clerks & Councils Direct September 2012
THE parents of a teenager who died of sudden heart failure have helped to install a defibrillator in their village’s old red telephone box. Beth Chesney-Evans and Crispin Evans from LONG WITTENHAM, Oxfordshire hope that the device could save lives. Their son Guy Evans, 17, died in 2008 when his heart failed while he was riding a motorbike. Mr Evans came up with the idea after the parish council bought the decommissioned box from BT for £1. Villagers raised £2,500 to buy the defibrillator, with the parish council donating £1,000. Mr Evans said: “I know Guy would be thrilled to think the box was going to be used in this way to help others. We miss him dreadfully, but we’re determined to carry on campaigning for some good to come out of our loss.”
Clerks & Councils Direct May 2012
HURLEY Parish Council has approved plans to place a heart defibrillator in a decommissioned red telephone box outside the local pub. The medical instrument, which is used to treat cardiac arrests, comes equipped with voice instructions and in an emergency can be used by members of the public. The device has been ordered from the Community Heartbeat Trust and will cost around £1,900 to buy and install. Council chairman Cllr Steve Harrington said: “I hope we won’t have to use it. But it will be good to know it is there”.
Clerks & Councils Direct March 2012
THINKING OUT OF THE BOX
I RECALL you did an article on a village somewhere adopting a disused BT telephone kiosk and how they were using it for the community.
My council has acquired a kiosk from BT for £1 (although they have not invoiced us yet), and I was wondering if someone could tell us how they went about using it and whether any “contracts” were entered into with members of the community wishing to maintain it on behalf of the parish council, etc. Should it be insured, or appear on the assets register? What about continuation of electricity supply? Any help and advice would be gratefully received.
Patricia Harrison, Executive Officer,
WYTHALL Parish Council,Worcestershire
Editor’s note: Indeed, we have reported on BT kiosks around the country being used as lending libraries, map and information points, art galleries, defibrillator stores and even, once, a pub. Can anyone help on the practicalities of maintaining their telephone box?
Clerks & Councils Direct March 2012
YET more uses for a redundant phone box! Villagers in the aptly named BOX, in Gloucestershire, bought their traditional red kiosk from BT and have turned it into a lending library. Local resident Carolyn Dolan had the idea after BBC radio drama The Archers ran a fictional storyline about a phone box conversion.
In July, residents of LOWER SLAUGHTER in the Cotswolds fitted a decommissioned telephone box with life-saving heart equipment. BT said that this was the 1,500th phone box in the UK to have been adopted by its local community. OVINGTON in the Tyne Valley has followed suit, installing a defibrillator donated by Morpeth Rotary Club. STOCKLINCH Parish Council has converted its box into an art installation called Phone Art, and residents are being encouraged to make their own artistic contributions.
Stu Dockree of Elmore, Gloucester, who runs a business restoring and converting telephone kiosks, has reported a number of unusual projects, including converting kiosks into a toilet and a walk-in drinks bar and a request from a celebrity for an office complete with computer and solar panels.
Things do not always go so well, however. In COED-Y-PAEN, Gwent, thieves stole an entire stock of 100 books donated as a lending library by villagers, who do not have a library or a bus service to get to one. And in ARLINGHAM in Gloucestershire, parish councillors got a nasty shock when energy company npower increased charges for the light bulb in their kiosk from £7 per quarter to £75. After they complained, the firm said it would look to reduce the charges as a goodwill gesture.
Clerks & Councils Direct November 2011
RINGING THE CHANGES
COMMUNITIES around the country continue to find inventive uses for their redundant telephone boxes, which are being sold off by BT for £1. A traditional red kiosk in LLANFRYNACH, near Brecon, was recently turned into a temporary art gallery.
Artists Nigel Evans and Karin Mear created an exhibition featuring pop art-style images of sheep, pigs and donkeys, which, they said, reflected the demise of the red phone box and people’s increasing reliance on mobile technology. Mr Evans said: “Everybody’s got a mobile phone now, so we are all like sheep being herded into using them.” The exhibition was interactive, with visitors able to leave written messages inside the phone box.
Meanwhile, the closure of their local pub inspired villagers in SHEPRETH, Cambridgeshire to turn their kiosk into an alehouse called the Dog and Bone for one night during their annual fete. A local carpenter created a bar to allow staff to stand inside to serve beer, soft drinks and crisps. A campaign group has been set up to get the village pub, The Plough, reopened and prevent it being converted into a house.
Clerks & Councils Direct September 2011
A FUTURE FOR PHONE BOXES
COMMUNITIES remain very attached to their red telephone boxes, and many have taken action to save them as BT decommissions some 2,000 kiosks nationwide. Two more villages – GLANTON in Northumberland and OVINGTON in the Tyne Valley – have clubbed together to buy their kiosks from BT for a nominal £1, and are now looking for new uses for them.
In Glanton, near Alnwick, villagers forced the parish council into a U-turn after it refused to take on the redundant phone box. Resident Tony Meikle enlisted the support of neighbours and carried out a survey which showed that 98 per cent of villagers wanted the box saved. A structural survey was also carried out. The villagers offered to take care of renovation and maintenance if the council officially adopted the kiosk. They are now restoring it to its original condition and looking for new uses for it. So far, it will act as a local information and book swap centre.
In Ovington, the parish council stepped in to preserve its kiosk. Parish councillor Andrew Mate says: “We’ve had a whole range of suggestions for it, from a mini-art gallery and book exchange to an eggs and vegetable redistribution centre with an honesty box, an information centre for visitors and walkers, and even the world’s smallest lap-dancing bar! Although the phone has been taken out, there is still a power supply so there are some realistic possibilities. My favourite would be as a vending machine, selling things like milk and eggs, because there is no shop in Ovington.”
Clerks & Councils Direct July 2011
ANOTHER village has found a new use for its redundant red telephone box – by converting it into a library. Trull Parish Council bought the box in STAPLEHAY from BT for £1, and volunteers have redecorated it, installed shelving and fitted it with new signs. The informal book exchange is now filling up with books, with parish councillor Dee Luke acting as volunteer librarian. The move was inspired by nearby WESTBURY-SUB-MENDIP parish council, which bought and converted an old phone box into a book exchange in 2009.
Clerks & Councils Direct May 2011
NEW LEAF FOR VILLAGE PHONE BOX
ANOTHER parish council has found a new use for a traditional red telephone box. The K6 box in COTEBROOK, Cheshire was decommissioned last year by BT, who agreed to transfer ownership to Utkinton and Cotebrook Parish Council for the nominal sum of 1p. Following the lead of MARTON CUM GRAFTON in North Yorkshire, the council has transformed the village landmark into a ‘book box’ in a bid to save it.
Shelving has been installed in the phone box and it has been kitted out with about 60 books, donated by parish councillors. The book box opened just before Christmas and is already proving popular.
Geoff Hope-Terry, vice chairman of the parish council, said: “These K6 boxes are a landmark sight in any area and it would have been a great loss if it was taken away. Anyone is more than welcome to take out a book and all we ask in return is that they replace it with one of their own.”
Cllr Geoff Hope-Terry with the village’s Book Box
Clerks & Councils Direct March 2011
HEART HELP AT HAND
A HEART defibrillator has been installed in a decommissioned phone box in a Leicestershire village.
All villagers and local ambulance staff have been given a number to call so the device in CARLTON, near Market Bosworth, can be quickly accessed.
Villagers worked with national charity the Community HeartBeat Trust to raise £2,000 to buy a community Public Access Defibrillator (cPAD).
The device has keypad access inside the telephone box, which was acquired by the parish council.
Clerks & Councils Direct January 2011