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Upcycling The Iconic British Telephone Box

July 5th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Here are a few examples of the fun and creative way these old phone boxes in the U.K. were reused and upcycled by the community and took a new lease of life.

When people this side of the Atlantic think about the British, some things instantly come to mind — the Windsors, Big Ben, the Union Jack, the Parliament, and until recently, the ubiquitous bright red-colored telephone booths that dot cities and villages in the U.K.

The era of cell phones have largely rendered the public telephones and the phone booths obsolete. Without the phones, it would be pointless and quite expensive for their owner, British Telecoms (BT), to keep maintaining the kiosks — each of these well-crafted sturdy structures costs about £700 per year to maintain.

The problem was that the booths have become veritable icons, a familiar sight in all of Britain so connected to the scenery and beloved by both locals and tourists. What to do?

The solution was both simple and brilliant. BT sold the phone booths to the communities and the people who care most about these cultural icons for the token sum of £1 each. It was an instant success. Some communities lost no time in repurposing and upcycling their phone booths, while others were just happy to keep the comfortingly familiar structures in place. To date, BT has already sold it’s 1000th telephone booth since the initiative begun.

People have been quite imaginative in reusing and upcycling their phone boxes. Here are a few examples of the fun and creative way these old phone kiosks took a second lease of life:

Old telephone booth turned into the Dog and Bone Pub
Photo: BBC

Villagers at Shepreth in Cambridgeshire turned this red phone kiosk (above) into a pub called the Dog and Bone to help bring attention to their campaign to get their village pub, The Plough, reopened.

Telephone box library
Photo: Bonnie Alter

This phone booth owned by the Longstock Parish Council has been converted into a library or book exchange. Located beside a thatched roof cottage, this library boasts of a decent collection of books supplied by the villagers themselves.

Finally, villagers from the Settle in Yorkshire are have successfully upcycled this phone box (see video above) by turning it into the now famous Gallery on the Green, the “smallest art gallery in the world.”

There are approximately 12,500 telephone booths remaining with BTat present, I suppose those can be recycled for the wood and glass materials. But why scrap something so cool and so culturally valuable? I’d gladly adopt one if they’d allow me to import it from the U.K. 😉

via: Tree Hugger

Tags: Recycling

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Recycling // Jul 29, 2011 at 5:55 am

    Thats an innovative way to include society in a recycling venture. These telephone boxes are of good sturdy material and should find good use.

  • 2 Charm Henry // Aug 11, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    I think the book shelf is pretty. Great job on that! These telephone boxes are made of good material and should be recycled. Aside from recycling these materials, we can also
    get cash for old phones
    as well by trading them to mobile recycling sites. There are still other recycling ways out there for us to try!