Telephone Kiosk Stamp

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Alternative Uses - Good & Bad!

2017 - Britain's red phone boxes get a radical repurposing as mobile phones render them obsolete

Often abandoned and vandalised, some of the phone boxes are getting a makeover and finding new uses – as a tiny cafe, a stylish hat shop, as heart defibrillator points. When it comes to finding new uses, the sky's the limit

Published : Monday, 18th December, 2017 | Updated : Monday, 18th December, 2017

Facing extinction due to ubiquitous mobile phones, Britain's classic red telephone boxes are being saved from death row by ingenious conversions into all sorts of new uses. Every day, dozens of office workers come down to Bloomsbury Square to get their lunch at a phone box that has been converted to hold a tiny refrigerator and shelves to put the dishes on. The generous salads – the house speciality – go down particularly well with customers who like to sit in the square's gardens to enjoy their lunch. It is one of thousands of phone boxes which are enjoying a new lease of life.

Umar Khalid stands outside the converted red telephone box from where he runs a coffee shop in Hampstead Heath, North London.

Umar Khalid stands outside the converted red telephone box from where he runs a coffee shop in Hampstead Heath, North London. Photo: AFP

Often abandoned, vandalised or reeking of urine, some have been transformed into libraries, art galleries and information hubs; others into cafes, hat shops or even heart defibrillator points. Since their numbers peaked at 92,000 across Britain in 2002, phone boxes have been in rapid decline. There are now 42,000 left, of which 7,000 are the classic red booths loved by tourists. British telecoms giant BT plans to remove 20,000 more by 2022. It says most of its phone booths lose money, while maintaining them costs £5 million (US$6.7 million) a year. Overall, 33,000 calls are made daily from phone boxes, a drop of 90 per cent in 10 years. The best-known model is the K6, in pillar box red with a crown embossed on its curved roof. It was the first to be installed as a standard around the country.

It was designed by the British architect Giles Gilbert Scott for the silver jubilee of King George V in 1935, marking 25 years of his reign. "We are looking for new alternatives to payphones," says Mark Johnson, BT's head of payphone operations. Several hundred phone boxes now house cash machines, while others are being turned into free and ultra-fast Wi-fi booths paid for by advertising. BT is also considering whether they could be turned into power points for electric vehicles. Some are restored and sold via an authorised reseller, with prices starting at £2,750, excluding value added tax. Others are sold for £1 to local communities or associations wanting to give them a new lease of life, part of BT's Adopt a Kiosk scheme which has already kept 5,000 of them standing. "The whole idea of this is to keep the heritage of the UK in place," says Johnson. The Red Kiosk Company, which donates a portion of its profits to charity, is one of the beneficiaries. It has already bought 124 redundant phone boxes, which it rents out for £360 a month. It hopes to acquire 500 more over the next three years. "You're saving a historic structure, you're creating employment and you're regenerating an area," says founder Edward Ottewell. Outside the costs of refitting them, which can be up to £6,000, local authority authorisation can be difficult to obtain, says Ottewell. The modest rental costs allows young entrepreneurs to get started, particularly in London, where commercial rents can be prohibitively high. "It was the only place where we could afford the rent, because it's only a square metre," says Ben Spier, who founded the salad bar in London's Bloomsbury Square. Red Kiosk also counts Lovefone, a mobile phone repair business, among its customers. "A passer-by asked me, 'Don't you feel claustrophobic?'" says Fouad Choaibi, sitting in his kiosk equipped with a small table, storage for spare parts and a tiny heater. "No. If it was bigger, you would have more distractions," says Choaibi. "I just go outside to stretch my legs. I go outside and I'm out of the office." Source : www.scmp.com

2016 - Welcome to the office – it's a bit of a squeeze:

New York firm to transform iconic red phone boxes into mini work stations

By Vicki Owen for the Mail On Sunday|Published: 21:56, 30 April 2016 | Updated: 21:56, 30 April 2016

Some of Britain's iconic red phone boxes are set to be given an unusual makeover by a New York co-working space firm. Bar Works is to launch Pod Works in locations including London, Leeds and Edinburgh using old BT phone boxes as mini-work stations for those on the move. Each 'pod' will have wi-fi, a heater, printer, scanner, wireless mouse, 25-inch screen, hot drinks machine and a power bank. 

Future look of telephone kiosks

Call Centre: the Phone Boxes will have a screen, printer and wi-fi

A fee of about £20 a month will provide access via an app to the pods and Bar Works' co-working spaces – former restaurants and bars – in New York and San Francisco. Bar Works chief executive Jonathan Black has done a deal with Red Kiosk Company, a Brighton firm operating a chain of unused red phone boxes. He said: 'Red Kiosk has acquired a lot from BT. I have got 14 so far. Local people will service them and there will be CCTV.' Black, a former venture capital firm boss from London who moved to New York in 2013, said: 'Bar Works started in October last year but I had the idea more than ten years ago. I ran a venture capital firm and had experience of the pub trade. I thought, 'Wouldn't it be great to have all these firms under one roof? Pubs in the UK have rooms upstairs, we could use those.'

But landlords got greedy and charged higher rents, so the model didn't work at that time. He added: 'I came across a closed down bar in New York.  It took a while for people to grasp the idea, but we have three now and 15 per cent of trade is from people walking past.'

He expects the first pods to open in the next eight weeks. Source : The Mail on Sunday

2012 - Kiosk 'grows' a 'living' livery

Kiosk decorated in Buxus

Using a form o 'Buxus' - this kiosk underwent a 'make-over' to promote the British Designer's Collective launch in Bicester, Oxfordshire in 2012 - image courtesy of alexloves

March 2012 saw the return of Bicester Village’s much anticipated annual British Designers Collective. Then in its third year, the pop-up boutique concept store is an exclusive collaboration between Bicester Village, one of the nine Chic Outlet Shopping® Villages by Value Retail, and the British Fashion Council, offering emerging British talent the opportunity to showcase their collections in a unique setting. Continuing the tradition, a mix of the most coveted names in British fashion will be on offer. New in 2012, a dedicated menswear selection followed the women’s boutique, launching on 16 May. Source and read more : The British Fashion Council

Buxus

Buxus deserves a place in any garden – it’s the perfect plant for creating evergreen style and structure. Buxus is a versatile plant that’s useful in any garden. Often known as box, it’s used to create topiary shapes, with pyramids, spheres and spirals all on offer. These shapes work particularly well in containers, which means they’re great for adding structure to a patio. Pairs of potted buxus shapes are also useful for flanking a path or framing a front door. Or you could make a design statement by creating a line of containers all filled with the same shape. It’s a simple way to create impact that will last year round. Source : Dobbies Garden Centres

Mini Brewery - Shepreth, Cambridgeshire

El Tel Mini Brewery

Cheers! El Tel becomes The Dog & Bone (temporarily) - image courtesy of the BBC

Library - Suffolk

BookswapAlternative view Bookswap Kiosk

A Book Swap Kiosk in Suffolk images by and © of Matthew Vaughn

Coffee Shop - Birmingham & Brighton

Kiosk Coffee Shop

Entrepreneur Jake Hollier has turned one of the UK's iconic red phone boxes into what is thought to be Birmingham's smallest coffee shop. Source and © itv.com

Kiosk Coffe Shop

Image © Red Box Coffee - Source - Daily Mail

Cash Machine - Peterborough

Kiosk as Cash Machine

Icon: Kelly McQuafe tries out a new ‘phone box ATM’ (Picture: Mason’s) - Source and © Metro

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Page updated : 30th November 2018 (G)

The header on this page consists of the stamp design of the telephone kiosk as copyrighted to the Post Office and one of the winter 2010 views of our own 'El Tel' covered in snow.