Thinking outside the box: the novel ways old phone boxes are serving communities

Thinking outside the box: the novel ways old phone boxes are serving communities

The UK’s iconic red phone boxes are slowly being decommissioned, but many are being given a new lease of life – one is even a nightclub

They have been a feature of the UK landscape for generations, but red phone boxes are mostly redundant these days – unsurprisingly, usage has dropped by around 96 per cent since smartphones came on the scene. 

Last week, some old phone boxes were saved from closure. The UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom, announced plans to keep open those in areas where there is poor mobile coverage, a high accident or suicide rate, and where they are still used. That amounts to around 5,000. 

Meanwhile, many others have been given a new lease of life, and are still serving communities in unusual ways. Here are three novel uses for old phone boxes. 

From Cornwall to Shetland, more than 1,000 red phone boxes have now been repurposed to house defibrillators: devices that give people lifesaving electric shocks after a heart attack.

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The Community HeartBeat Trust charity came up with the idea and partnered with BT to help communities take them over. BT charges just £1 to adopt a box plus free electricity for the project’s first seven years. Pictured is Philip Davison, who renovated a box in Skeyton, Norfolk. 

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