Red phone boxes in three Bedford villages can now be ‘adopted’ for as little as £1

They could be turned into book exchanges or life saving defibrillator units

Monday, 15th March 2021, 4:20 pm
Updated Monday, 15th March 2021, 4:22 pm

The iconic red telephone boxes which used to be commonplace in communities all over the UK are now being offered to councils for just £1, courtesy of BT.

And residents in Knotting, Pavenham and Yielden have been given the chance to adopt a box, so it can be refurbished to serve their communities.

All over the country red phone boxes have been repurposed as book exchanges, art galleries, as well as museums. They’re often also used as storage for life saving defibrillator units.

A book exchange is a popular way to repurpose an old phone box

Now a new scheme, Adopt a Kiosk, will give local councils the opportunity to pick up the phone boxes for £1 each.

BT worker, James Browne, said: “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 across the UK to retain their local phone box with a refreshed purpose for the community.”

As well as miniature art galleries and book exchanges, repurposing the booths to hold defibrillator units has proven to be popular in many parts of the UK.

While many of the booths are being repurposed to provide other services, BT has also upgraded many existing phone boxes to offer more up to date services. These so-called ‘Street Hubs’ offer free ultrafast broadband, USB charging stations and environmental monitoring.

Martin Fagan, national secretary of the community heartbeat trust, a charity which has helped install around 800 of these defibrillator units, 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.

“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.

However, there may be occasional reasons why a particular box may not be able to be adopted, for example, if it is required to be retained by BT for another purpose

For further details on how to apply to Adopt a Kiosk, simply go to www.bt.com/adopt where application forms and information can be found.