Photo by Mike on

This isn’t something that I have actually achieved myself. I’m talking about a redundant red telephone box, in our village.

Red telephone boxes have been a symbol of British life since they were first introduced by the General Post Office. They were originally designed by Sir Gilles Gilbert Scott in 1924 when he won a competition run by the Post Office. In 1935, Scott designed a new telephone box to celebrate the Jubilee of King George V. which was commissioned also by the Post Office.

By 1992 there were 92,000 telephone boxes across the UK, operated by British Telecom. Fast forward to the 21st Century and the advancement of technology, including the internet and mobile phones, and telephone boxes are no longer needed in the same way as before.

Photo by Yelena Odintsova on

But what has been happening to the redundant red telephone boxes? Some have been restored and are available to purchase, while others have been up-cycled. This is what has happened to our local telephone box which can be seen in the photo below.

I hope you can deduce the new purpose of the telephone box from my photo. I was trying to capture the image while holding onto Zeph‘s lead! We were beside a relatively busy road, so he wasn’t at his happiest. If you haven’t guessed…

It has now been converted into a book exchange. Before this could happen, the telephone box had to be thoroughly cleaned by volunteers. The next step was to sand down and repaint the telephone box before installing bookshelves.

To complete the transformation of the telephone box, the inside was decorated and the area surrounding it was planted with flowers. Finally, the shelves were filled with donated books. The idea is that you take one book and exchange it for another. Perfect! When I walk past I often see children enjoying choosing a book. It really is a lovely way to bring new life to an old telephone box.

Other red telephone boxes have also been transformed into libraries, mini art galleries, tiny pubs and even used to house defibrillators. This last example is particularly valuable in isolated, rural communities.

I’m really pleased that these iconic red telephone boxes have been transformed and preserved. I wouldn’t mind buying one myself and installing it in our French garden. It would certainly be a talking point. Perhaps I’d make it into a potting shed! I think that might have to remain a dream because of the costs involved.

Perhaps, if you live in the UK, there is a red telephone box, near you, that has been transformed. Or maybe you have spotted one on your travels. I’d love to know!