BT’s Adopt a Kiosk scheme enables communities to retain their iconic red kiosks, preserving their heritage. Kiosks that are not heavily used and not required by BT can be adopted by registered charities and local councils. Since the scheme was launched, more than 5000 communities across the UK have taken the opportunity to adopt a kiosk and turn them into a community asset.
This includes a number of councils in Devon, who have used telephone kiosks for a wide range of activities. Red phone boxes are often centrally located; combined with their small footprint, this makes them ideal for a huge range of small projects to benefit the community.
Hennock Parish Council includes both Hennock and Chudleigh Knighton so the council aimed to restore phone boxes in both.
In Hennock, the council decided to use the phone box as a mini library. The phone box was refurbished to prevent water ingress and is now fitted with bespoke water resistant shelving. Both projects were funded from the support of County Councillor Jerry Brook through his locality budget and Investing in Devon funding.
Cllr Maura Curran (pictured above) said: “The need for the library had been identified by the existing use by a wide selection of the community and this project will ensure this community facility is improved and can continue to be provided, it will be looked after by community volunteers.”
In Chudleigh Knighton, the council has created a Phone Box Museum (pictured below), containing old photographs with descriptions of village scenes including the village pubs, village hall, school, church, local businesses and significant houses. The council has plans to produce a village history leaflet, and a leaflet about the Ant Trail (a sign-posted walk around Chudleigh Knighton Heath).
Steven Chown (local historian) said: “There is a mention of Chudleigh Knighton in the Domesday Book. But since then, there are few written records. The Phone Box Museum aims to give residents and visitors and insight into how the village has changed over the years, to provide a sense of identity, preserve stories, inspire residents to protect the village “treasures” and ensure people have a better understanding of how the village was shaped into how it is today.”
Following a community consultation by Moretonhampstead Parish Council on what to do with the phone box, one suggestion that came from Wellmoor was a one-year trial to run the phone box as an accessible space for all to demonstrate their skills, share their interests, provide public services and engage people. Wellmoor would act as administrator, booking out slots throughout the year to various local individuals, groups and organisations.
The first exhibition of the phone box was held on Saturday 9th December, with a one day only exhibition ‘Out of the Box’ hosted by a local artist Lucy Patrick in aid of St Petrocs, a homeless charity in Exeter. Moretonhampstead residents were invited to donate a piece of art that expressed what they like about home. All visitors to the exhibition (covid-secure) were invited to take away a piece of artwork and leave their own notion of what home means to them. The exhibition was featured on Spotlight and BBC Radio Devon.
Defibrillators are medical devices which can shock the heart back into a normal rhythm following sudden cardiac arrest; rapid response with a community public access defibrillator (cPAD) can save lives and improve quality of life for a survivor. South Tawton Parish Council is one of a number of councils that have used their K6 phoneboxes for cPADs, using them to house four of their five defibrillators.
To stay in line with the council’s environmental ethos, Brixham Town Council has transformed their adopted phone kiosks into Telebug Hotels.
Have you got another suggestion for what to do with an adopted phone box? Perhaps you’re using a phone box as a toy library, or a mini greenhouse, or a community food bank? Don’t forget to tell us about it! We love to hear about the different uses that our councils have found for phone boxes so please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas!