Telephone boxes in Cheltenham could get innovative uses

Red telephone boxes have been an iconic British institution for over 100 years, as synonymous with Britain as fish and chips.

Designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the first phone box was produced in 1925.

By 1980, public telephones were a huge institution within the UK – 73,000 telephone boxes in total.

However, over the years the use of telephone boxes has dropped dramatically.

There are now less than 46,000 boxes across the country, with many falling into a state of disrepair.

In April 2014, graffiti artist Banksy produced an artwork on a wall on the corner of Hewlett Road and Fairview Road, titled ‘Spybooth’ featuring spies surrounding a telephone box – a nod to the GCHQ offices in the town.

While it has now been taken down following a row, it has influenced local authorities to find new ways to revamp further telephone boxes that are out of use.

Earlier this year, Cheltenham Borough Council and the Wilson Art Gallery launched a project named ‘Cheltenham 300’. This saw a series of telephone boxes re-developed to include exhibits of lesser known, but important, Cheltenham figures.

The 'Cheltenham 300' project, located on the Promenade have given misused telephone boxes a new life
The ‘Cheltenham 300’ project, located on the Promenade has given misused telephone boxes a new life

These figures give an insight into Cheltenham’s rich history, with those featured including ‘Mary Black Hat’, an elderly one eyed fruit and veg seller.

With this project being well-received, successfully promoting the town’s history – will there be further developments of similar exhibits in the town?

Also, with mobile technology now an integral part of modern society is there a need for telephone boxes anymore? Could we see the disappearance of them by 2020?


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