Red Phone Box

Thinking Outside The Red Phone Box

As the UK’s iconic red phone boxes are slowly being decommissioned, many are being saved and given a new lease of life – their makeovers are awesome 😀

After generations of red phone boxes being a feature of the UK landscape, they have been taken over by the rise of the smartphone. Unsurprisingly, their use has dropped 96 per cent according to some studies.

The UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom, have announced plans to keep some of the phone boxes in operation in some areas of the UK, but only around 5,000 of them.

So, what about the others? Well, some have been given a new lease of life and are still serving communities in new and unusual ways.

Here are three novel ways some phone boxes are now being used:

Mini-Medical Centres

Phone Box Defib

In locations across the UK, from Cornwall to Shetland, over 1,000 red phone boxes have now been repurposed to hold defibrillators: the lifesaving devices used to give people electric shocks after a heart attack.

The charity Community HeartBeat Trust, are the ones who came up with the idea and partnered with BT to help make it happen.

Martin Fagan, the charity’s national secretary said:

“To save a life after a cardiac arrest is time-dependent. As telephone kiosks are in the  centre of communities, and are easily recognisable and generally feature on OS maps and satnavs, these make great locations for defibrillators.”

UK’s Smallest Nightclub

Phone Box Nightclub

Complete with a music system, disco lighting and even a glitter ball, an old phone box in Kingsbridge in Devon is now a little nightclub. There’s only room for one or two people – but it’s proven a hit with eager dancers. It opened in 2018 and became the 5,000th adapted phone box in BT’s programme.

Councillor Chris Povey of Kingsbridge town council said:

“This red phone box is an important part of Kingsbridge’s heritage and we were determined to keep it, but we also wanted to do something really eye-catching with it.”

By charging dancers £1 per track, the phone box raises funds for a local charity, which helps adults with learning difficulties.

Mini Libraries

Phone Box Library

As the use of phone boxes to make calls has dropped, the number of them being turned into mini community libraries or book exchanges has grown. For those where normal libraries are too far away or have closed altogether, they are a lifeline.

Nia Pearson runs a converted phone box called The Martin Gallery in the village of Shaldon in South Devon. Serving both residents and visitors, it also houses some artwork created at a local school for people to enjoy.

“We opened in May 2016, with the help of local people who gave their time and energy to help me refurbish the derelict and unloved telephone box,” said Pearson. “It’s named after a friend who died young from pancreatic cancer: writing a cheque was not enough.”

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