Redundant red phone box in Northampton town centre up for grabs for £1 to become community asset

BT: 'Applying is quick and easy and we’re always happy to speak to communities about adopting our phone boxes'

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 9:37 am

BT is calling on the community to come up with a scheme to make use of an iconic yet redundant red phone box in the heart of Northampton.

The phone box on Wood Hill is up for grabs for £1 to become anything from somewhere to store a defibrillator to a book exchange or mini history museum.

Thirteen in South Northamptonshire and 19 in Daventry are also available as part of the Adopt a Kiosk project, which has seen 784 taken on by communities across the East Midlands since 2008.

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A book exchange is a popular re-use for old phone boxes. Photo: BT

BT Enterprise unit director for the Midlands, Sarah Walker, said: “With most people now using mobile phones, it’s led to a huge drop in the number of calls made from payphones.

"At the same time, mobile coverage has improved significantly in recent years due to investment in masts, particularly in rural areas.

“We’re currently rationalising our payphone estate to make it fit for the future, and the Adopt a Kiosk scheme makes it possible for local communities in the East Midlands to retain their local phone box, with a refreshed purpose for the community.

“Thousands of communities have already come up with a fantastic array of ideas to re-use their beloved local phone box.

"Applying is quick and easy and we’re always happy to speak to communities about adopting our phone boxes.”

As part of plans to modernise its payphone estate, over 400 payphones across towns and cities have also been upgraded by BT to digital units, called Street Hubs.

These offer free ultrafast public WiFi, free UK phone calls, USB device charging, environmental monitoring and more.

The Street Hubs also play a vital role in sharing public information, including displaying advice from Public Health England and councils across the country during the coronavius pandemic.

Street Hubs from part of BT’s plan to transform high streets with a digital communications service designed for the 21 st century.

Martin Fagan, national secretary for the Community Heartbeat Trust charity, said: “BT’s phone box kiosks are iconic British structures, and repurposing for this life saving use has given them a new lease of life.

"To date, we have converted about 800 ourselves, with another 200 in the pipeline. Placing the equipment in the heart of a community is important to save on time.

"Kiosks are historically at the centre of the community, and thus great locations for defibrillators.”

Communities can adopt a kiosk if they are a recognised public body, such as a parish council, community council or town council.

Boxes can also be adopted by registered charities or by individuals who have a payphone on their own land.

BT will continue to provide electricity, if already in place, to power the light for adopted phone boxes, free of charge. For more information, visit bt.com/adopt.