The classic red phone boxes that dot the United Kingdom have been a symbol of British culture for generations, however, with the introduction of smartphones, their usage has dropped by almost 96 percent.
That said, many people are still fond of the red phone boxes and don’t want to see them removed from the UK’s landscape, so they are finding creative ways to repurpose them. Here are three novel uses that are giving some old phone boxes a chance to continue serving their communities.
Lifesaving mini-medical centers
More than 1,000 red phone boxes across the nation have been repurposed into house defibrillators—the devices that can revive people who have suffered a heart attack via electric shocks.
The mini-medical centers are the brainchild of the charity Community HeartBeat Trust, which partnered with British Telecommunications (BT) to help communities transform the phone boxes. BT charges only £1 to adopt a box and offers free electricity for the first seven years of the project.
“To save a life after a cardiac arrest is time-dependent,” said Community HeartBeat Trust’s national secretary. “As telephone kiosks are in the center of communities, and are easily recognizable and generally feature on OS maps and satnavs, these make great locations for defibrillators.”
The UK’s smallest nightclub
There is a former phone box in Kingsbridge, Devon, that is decked out with a music system, disco lighting, and a glitter ball, making it one of the tiniest nightclubs in the world. There’s only room for one or two people, but even with its limited capacity, it’s proved to be a hit with visitors. When it opened in 2018, it officially became the 5,000th transformed telephone box in BT’s Adopt a Kiosk program.
The tiny nightclub charges guests £1 per track, which helps it raise funds for the local charity @115, which supports adults with learning difficulties. If you want to give the UK’s smallest nightclub a visit, be sure to go early as it closes its doors at 10 pm.
Mini community libraries
While most people don’t need phone boxes to make calls anymore, many communities have been utilizing them as mini-community libraries or book exchanges.
This is especially useful for those in rural areas who aren’t near council-run libraries. A converted phone box located in the coastal village of Shaldon in South Devon, called The Martin Gallery, displays artwork created at a local school for people to enjoy, alongside signs that request a donation of 50p per book, all of which goes to Cancer Research UK.