VILLAGERS WIN FIGHT FOR RED PHONE BOX STORY- DAILY MAIL NEWSPAPER- *DECEMBER 2009*
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Out with the new... in with the old: Village is first to bring back old phone box after 25-year battle with BT
Daily Mail newspaper
It is one of the defining symbols of 20th century Britain . . . one which, sadly, has been committed to history by the mobile phone.
But in one small corner of England, the red telephone box is making a triumphant comeback.
The utility was returned to its rightful place yesterday in Hampstead Norreys, Berkshire, after a battle by the 600 residents which went right to the top at BT.
Landmark victory: BT today returned the traditional red telephone box it removed 25 years ago from Hampstead Norreys in Berkshire following a two-year campaign by residents
It is the first time one of the boxes has been reinstated in a public place.
The original was removed 30 years ago to be replaced by a grey plastic and glass kiosk that villagers described as 'a monstrosity'.
It was entirely out of keeping with the quaint grade II-listed well and riverside gardens it sat next to, they said.
But after a two-year fight with BT, an original red K6 'Jubilee' box was returned yesterday – complete with working phone.
The victory is expected to prompt hundreds of other villages to demand similar restorations.
The refurbished traditional box is hoisted into place. BT agreed to equip it with a working phone line
'It really is a red-letter day for small communities who are trying hard to retain their village identity as well as its history and heritage,' said campaigner Sheila Craig.
'We hope that this will enable other small communities to follow our lead and to look into reinstating their telephone boxes if they feel that it would improve the village ambience as well as its amenities.'
Classic red boxes remained a common feature of most towns and villages until BT began replacing them with grey glass designs in the Eighties. The campaign to reinstate one had been 'littered with refusal and disappointments', Mrs Craig added.
'Initially, the request was met with a firm "No" as it was not within BT's policy to re-instate old red K6 telephone boxes,' she said.
A villager takes a peak inside. The campaigners said it was the first reinstatement of a public K6 kiosk with a working telephone
Out with the old, in with the older: Villagers considered the old 1980s phone box an out-of-place 'monstrosity'
'But after responding to all of BT's reasons as to why the work could not be done, the residents' request eventually reached the highest levels within the company and agreement to install a telephone was reached.'
The villagers have bought their own red phone box for £2,000 and BT has agreed to install a phone in it. The cost of maintaining it will be funded by the parish council, and it has been guaranteed for the next ten years.
The box was refurbished and suppliedby Lincolnshire-based company-British Bits. The K6 boxes were designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935.
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