Obsolete, Yet Iconic British Telephone Booth Finds New Life

out-of-order photo

Image from axis.web

It's iconic, a symbol of Britishness the world over: the red telephone box. But no longer, they are disappearing as fast as you can say "cell phone."

The Brit's are huge users of mobile phones (85% of all adults own one) so no one uses the boxes anymore, except as ads for sex-shops and other dubious pleasures. Now they are being offered to communities for £1 in an "Adopt a Kiosk" scheme, and are being recycled for some astonishing and eccentric uses...

adopt kiosk photo

Image from BT

The empty and often vandalised phone boxes are a huge expense for BT (British Telecom); each one costs £700 ($1,100) to keep up so they have been handing them over to communities and they are just about to give their 1,000th one away.

BT held a competition to determine the most unique usages. The winner featured a mannequin dressed as a regularly changing seasonal, historical or fictitious character. Other usages include renting it to local community people for a week to make their own exhibits, posting poems, a vegetable swap and magazine swap location.

library booth photo

Image from The Press

This may be on of the smallest book exchange or library in the country. This booth in Marton-cum-Grafton is being used for a book exchange, organised by the local library and school.

the floor photo

Image from the BBC

The most famous is The Gallery on the Green in Yorkshire. It claims to be the smallest art gallery in the world. The Gallery is run by part time volunteers from the village of Settle.

gallery space photo

Image from the BBC

They show 24 picture postcard sized pieces of art work regularly. Started last year, their next exhibition will be featuring selections from Brian May's (ex Queen guitarist) new book 'A Village Lost and Found'. It is appropriate for this spot because it is a book of reproductions of photographs from an Oxfordshire village of the 1850s.

settle gallery photo

Image from gallery on the green

In 2002, there were 92,000 payphones across the UK. Now there are still more than 12,500, however over half of them don't make a profit.

The first incarnation of the red phone box was designed by architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott for a competition in 1924. This design, the K2, was introduced in 1926, predominately in London. Ten years later Scott refined his design and the famous K6 or 'Jubilee Kiosk' was introduced nationwide to celebrate George V's Silver Jubilee.

More on Recycling Icons

Recycled Typewriters; What's That?
Buy a Stamp and Get the Best of British Design
Eames Stamps Released

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