These iconic red telephone boxes once found all over the streets of UK were doomed to disappear, but the locals and British Telecom came up with a great idea to save them—they recycled them into libraries. Now the great idea is getting so much attention from around the world.
Around 2002, there were still 92,000 red phone boxes erected on the streets of Britain, but the count eventually went down to 51,500, and 11,000 of which were the traditional ones. Seeing people had already shifted to using the newest trend in terms of communication devices, the British Telecom had no other choice but to strip one-third of these booths, even though they knew that these were Britain’s most famous symbols.
The move was disheartening for some locals. They knew that the phone boxes had been part of the community’s identity and history. They deem them as an important landmark and a symbolism of the character of every village. So these residents sought a way to retain the red boxes.
Participating in the project is the British Telecom itself, who launched a program called Adopt a Kiosk in 2009 that aimed to save the telephone boxes from being removed or demolished. The project allowed the parish councils and the locals to adopt the phone boxes for only £1 and recycle them into something else. With every approved application for ownership, BT would remove the phone from the chosen box and leave everything in place.
Over 1,500 phone boxes have been saved since 2009 and turned into different uses such as art galleries, grocery shops, tea rooms, and lending libraries, the last one being the most unique and popular idea. The Community and Heartbeat Trust also lent a hand by placing defibrillators inside the boxes to be used as a first-aid response in case of emergency.
Almost all the libraries are kept open so that anyone can just come and get a DVD or a book, but users are required to replace what they take with any useful stuff to keep the stock replenished. All the books, cassettes, magazines, and DVDs are donated by the villagers.
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