Source: Facebook/ComHeartbeat

Thinking inside the box: 10 novel uses for classic red telephone kiosks

The UK’s iconic red phone boxes are slowly being decommissioned, but many are finding a new lease of life as alternative locations for a variety of enterprises — from libraries to nightclubs!

Ring the changes: phone boxes new lease of life as other things

The UK’s classic phone red box is an enduring icon of British design, held in even higher regard by the British public than the double-decker bus and the Union Flag. However, in today’s cell phone era, these phone boxes now have little practical use. Rather than allowing them to disappear from the landscape altogether, some enterprising Brits have adopted disused phone boxes and turned them into a variety of enterprises, including coffee shops, bars, art galleries, and more.

From Cornwall to Shetland, more than 1,000 red phone boxes have now been repurposed to house defibrillators by The Community Heartbeat Trust. The Trust is a national charity which provides life saving defibrillators and skills to local communities, a complete governance program and insurance for projects. Currently working with 6000+ communities to achieve positive outcomes for Cardiac Arrest victims.
1. Defibrillators. From Cornwall to Shetland, more than 1,000 red phone boxes have now been repurposed to house defibrillators by The Community Heartbeat Trust. The Trust is a national charity which provides life saving defibrillators and skills to local communities, a complete governance program and insurance for projects. Currently working with 6000+ communities to achieve positive outcomes for Cardiac Arrest victims. Source: Facebook/ComHeartbeat
Complete with music system, disco lighting and even a glitter ball, a former phone box in Kingsbridge in Devon is now a tiny nightclub. There’s only room for one or two people – over-enthusiastic dancers need not apply – but it’s proven a hit with visitors. When it opened in 2018 it became the 5,000th adopted telephone box in BT’s Adopt a Kiosk programme.
2. The UK’s smallest nightclub. Complete with music system, disco lighting and even a glitter ball, a former phone box in Kingsbridge in Devon is now a tiny nightclub. There’s only room for one or two people – over-enthusiastic dancers need not apply – but it’s proven a hit with visitors. When it opened in 2018 it became the 5,000th adopted telephone box in BT’s Adopt a Kiosk programme. Source: Positive.news
On Hampstead High Street in North London, the family-run Kape Barako coffee kiosk may look tiny, but it packs a lot into a small space. The miniature café serves strong espresso drinks, tea, cakes, milkshakes, sandwiches, and pastries, and has gained quite a cult following since opening last year. It’s obviously standing room only though.
3. Cafeterias. On Hampstead High Street in North London, the family-run Kape Barako coffee kiosk may look tiny, but it packs a lot into a small space. The miniature café serves strong espresso drinks, tea, cakes, milkshakes, sandwiches, and pastries, and has gained quite a cult following since opening last year. It’s obviously standing room only though. Source: Edward Wallace via Fodors.com
This smallest of visitor centres commemorates the Battle of Flodden, largest battle ever fought between the kingdoms of England and Scotland. With a map and information, and even a little safe. What more could a visitor want?
4. The world’s smallest visitory centre. This smallest of visitor centres commemorates the Battle of Flodden, largest battle ever fought between the kingdoms of England and Scotland. With a map and information, and even a little safe. What more could a visitor want? Source: FMT via Medium
Mini lending libraries in disused phone boxes can be found across Britain. In London, Lewisham Micro library is one of the country’s most-loved. Accessible 24 hours a day, the library is open to all. “All we ask,” says the operator, “is if you take a book to read, please replace with an old book of your own if you can.” The library’s Facebook page updates users on notable books currently in stock.
5. Lewisham Micro Library. Mini lending libraries in disused phone boxes can be found across Britain. In London, Lewisham Micro library is one of the country’s most-loved. Accessible 24 hours a day, the library is open to all. “All we ask,” says the operator, “is if you take a book to read, please replace with an old book of your own if you can.” The library’s Facebook page updates users on notable books currently in stock. Source: Clare Cowan via Fodors
When a pub in Shepreth, South Cambridgeshire, was forced to close, the owners got a temporary licence for a bar to be installed in their closeby decommisioned phone box. After a few years, they managed to relocate back to their original home.
6. The Dog and Bone Pub. When a pub in Shepreth, South Cambridgeshire, was forced to close, the owners got a temporary licence for a bar to be installed in their closeby decommisioned phone box. After a few years, they managed to relocate back to their original home. Source: CEN via Medium
Apart from the defibrillators, this is quite possibly the most useful repurposing of an old phone boxes. Already situated in towns and cities, they provide the perfect places to withdraw cash.
7. Alternative ATM. Apart from the defibrillators, this is quite possibly the most useful repurposing of an old phone boxes. Already situated in towns and cities, they provide the perfect places to withdraw cash. Source: Mason News via Medium
Phone repair company Lovefone has a kiosk in Holborn, central London, in which it repairs cracked iPhone screens. The Lovefone technician who works there, Fouad Choaibi, has been based in the box for two and a half years and has embedded himself in the community, making himself indispensable to locals with cracked iPhones. The kiosk is very profitable, proving it can be done if you get the concept right.
8. Smartphone repair shop (the irony is exquisite). Phone repair company Lovefone has a kiosk in Holborn, central London, in which it repairs cracked iPhone screens. The Lovefone technician who works there, Fouad Choaibi, has been based in the box for two and a half years and has embedded himself in the community, making himself indispensable to locals with cracked iPhones. The kiosk is very profitable, proving it can be done if you get the concept right. Source: Simon Leigh for The Guardian
Could this combination of three phoneboxes be the smallest curry house in the United Kingdom? A decent selection of drinks match the biryanis.
9. Curry House, Biryani in a Box. Could this combination of three phoneboxes be the smallest curry house in the United Kingdom? A decent selection of drinks match the biryanis. Source: Tayyab Shafiq via Medium
Sweet-toothed visitors to the small hamlet of Cladich in Argyll should head for this decorated red phone box to be treated to a selection of homemade cakes, courtesy of two local bakers. Payment for baked goods is made by an honesty box, though this one is guarded by the watchful eyes of the resident hairy Highland cows.
10. Cakes in a Call Box. Sweet-toothed visitors to the small hamlet of Cladich in Argyll should head for this decorated red phone box to be treated to a selection of homemade cakes, courtesy of two local bakers. Payment for baked goods is made by an honesty box, though this one is guarded by the watchful eyes of the resident hairy Highland cows. Source: Holly Ford via Fodors.com

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