Wokingham’s red phone boxes will be repurposed
Two ‘iconic’ disused telephone booths have been acquired by the council, and a decision on what to do with them is now expected to take place later this month.
A decision on how the kiosks are to be used will be taken at an upcoming Amenities and Recreation Committee meeting, originally scheduled for September 14 but has now been postponed to September 28 due to the national period of mourning after the death of the queen.
Earley City Council obtained the red phone boxes, one on Silverdale Road and the other on Wychwood Crescent, from BT for a “token sum”.
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Committee chair Cllr Nicola Brock said the phone ‘didn’t work’ and BT was going to ‘destroy’ it, so the council wanted to preserve ‘historic roadside furniture’.
Other similar boxes have been adopted by various town and parish councils or community groups across the country, they have been reused in a wide range of things, including a stained glass “chromotherapy” room and a beach shower.
The committee will consider a number of possible uses, including a defibrillator ‘house’, toy exchange, art gallery, planter, information kiosk or book exchange.
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Cllr Brock said the committee could then consult the community with a “limited choice” of options or “just to inform” their decision on what to do with the “iconic” red boxes.
The Wychwood Crescent phone booth, located on a residential street and clearly visible to pedestrians and passers-by, is said to be in “fair condition” and the committee suggests it could be repainted and refurbished “on site”.
There is already a defibrillator located ‘close enough’ to Medivet, a veterinary practice on Elm Lane, so a different use of the repurposed kiosk is expected.
The committee says vandalism is “always a concern” but that this particular residential area is “not notorious for such problems”.
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The Silverdale Road Kiosk, located next to the Parade of Shops and close to the Maiden Erlegh School exit, is also close to two other defibrillator sites – one at Tesco Express and one at Aldryngton School.
Its condition is described as ‘poor’ and said to have been ‘repeatedly vandalized’ and the council say it fears it is a ‘recurring problem’.
For this reason, it is suggested that advisors “may want to consider” moving the box to another location. However, he would then lose his electricity supply so lighting the cabin “would be difficult”.
The committee says relocation would entail “additional costs”.
There is currently no timetable for the completion of the repurposing, but Cllr Brock said that in the meantime BT had removed the phones and made them “safe”.