Local communities can hang on to iconic red telephone boxes

The picture shows a night clubber trying out the 5,000th phone box to be adopted!

The much loved red telephone box is being given a new lease of life up and down the country as a result of a popular BT initiative.

From housing life-saving heart defibrillators to being transformed into miniature art galleries and lending libraries, cafés, tourist information centres and sweet shops – redundant red phone boxes are being put back into use thanks to BT’s ‘Adopt a Kiosk’ scheme.

Across the West Midlands around 455 phone boxes have now been transformed while 5000 have been adopted across the UK.

They include three in Cannock district, two in Stoke-on-Trent, 12 in East Staffordshire, 14 in the Lichfield area, six in Newcastle-under-Lyme, six in South Staffordshire, 17 in Stafford & Stone district and 21 in Staffordshire Moorlands.

Katherine Bradley, commercial and operations manager for BT Payphones, said:

“The Adopt a Kiosk programme has proved to be a huge success. With use of payphones declining by more than 90 per cent in the last decade, many phone boxes are no longer needed as working payphones. But villages and towns across the country have been keen to keep them because the red kiosks are often an integral part of the local community.

“Rather than leave the phone boxes empty, they have come up with a huge variety of uses, ranging from mini libraries and mini art galleries to tourist information centres and grocery shops – or the boxes have been equipped with the latest lifesaving heart defibrillator equipment.”

The ‘Adopt a Kiosk’ programme was introduced in 2008 for communities wanting to keep a traditional red phone box which is no longer needed as a payphone.

The UK’s 5,000th adoption took place in the Devon town of Kingsbridge where the town council has turned it into what is believed to be the world’s smallest nightclub.

Communities or individuals can ‘adopt’ or take ownership of a box for £1 if they are a:

  • recognised local authority, such as a district or borough council
  • parish, community, town council or equivalent
  • registered charity or community interest company
  • private land owner – anyone who has a BT telephone box on their land.

Further details are available at www.bt.com/adopt