The telecoms company BT is famous in the UK for their iconic red telephone box that has become a symbol of London and the UK in general around the world. Now, as part of its Adopt a Kiosk scheme, it has just made another 4,000 telephone boxes available for adoption by the public.
The scheme initially started in 2008 as a way for communities to repurpose the now mainly out of use boxes. It was a great success with people able to purchase a box for as little as one pound. Over 6,000 boxes have been part of the scheme so far, and the latest drop from BT is a large expansion of the project – almost doubling the number of repurposed boxes in use.
The scheme encourages members of the community to ‘adopt’ a box. While the kiosks previously served as a way to make phone calls in a pre-mobile and even pre-landline time, many have been put out of use by the ubiquitous rise in smartphone usage. There are only around 7,000 estimated working red telephone boxes left in the UK. There were supposedly over 70,000 working kiosks in the heyday of the phonebox around the middle of the 20th century.
The boxes have been repurposed before, with more than 1,300 boxes now part of a project to introduce defibrillators to rural communities. The project is run in conjunction with the Community Heartbeat Trust, an outreach programme seeking to reduce the amounts of unnecessary death by heart failure each year.
The original phone box was released in 1924, although the 1936 is the more commonly recognised model. The highly notable and striking red steel design was made by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, and was awarded the 2015 prize for most iconic British design of all time.