A new lease of life for old phone box

Trading box...Steve Kirk clerk with the old telephone box in Burton Overy. (Picture: Andrew Carpenter/001402-15)

Trading box...Steve Kirk clerk with the old telephone box in Burton Overy. (Picture: Andrew Carpenter/001402-15)

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AN ICONIC red telephone box bought by villagers for £1 after it was decommissioned could be given a new lease of life – as a village swap shop.

Burton Overy Parish Council wants to convert the box, in Main Street, into a book and produce exchange.

They plan to fit shelves in the three-foot by three-foot-square kiosk to house the books as well as space for people to leave excess produce, with an honesty box.

A team of volunteers plan to paint the box to restore it to its former glory.

Parish council clerk Steve Kirk told the Mail: “BT decommissioned it a couple of years ago because it wasn’t paying for itself with the popularity of mobile phones, so we bought it.

“Then we asked around the village to find out what plans they might have for it and the most favoured option was as an exchange for books and produce. People always have an excess of apples and things like that during the season. It has a light so it can be used through the winter.”

The phone box is a model known as the K6, designed in 1935 to commemorate the silver jubilee of King George V.

The iconic kiosks were a common feature of every town and village in the UK for many years but the growing popularity of mobile phones led BT to decommission many of them.

Mr Kirk has submitted a planning application to Harborough District Council to change the use of the box but said it has proved no simple matter, due to it having Grade II-listed status.

He has had to submit detailed proposals, including photographs and plan drawings, and seek separate permission for it to be painted.

The tiny village of Burton Overy has a pub but no shop since the post office closed down a few years ago.

Mr Kirk said he hopes the converted telephone box, which will also carry a village notice board, will become a feature of the community.

“It’s a quaint little idea I suppose,” he said.

“But it’s making use of something that makes the village what it is.”