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BT Hails 5000th Adopted Phone Box – Gets Turned into a Tiny Disco

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018 (11:50 am) - Score 1,509
bt_phone_box_uk_smallest_disco

BT has announced that their “Adopt a Kiosk” programme, which was setup in 2008 as a way for communities to retain one of their iconic red phone boxes (instead of having it scrapped), has now seen 5,000 adopted kiosks across the UK and the latest has allegedly been turned into the “world’s smallest night club.”

Obviously this is a bit of a PR stunt since, let’s face it, a night club that can only fit two or three people (possibly more at a squeeze or one Boris Johnson) isn’t particularly practical or useful. Nevertheless the “world’s smallest disco” has been created in Kingsbridge (Devon) and similarly for just £1 other communities can also apply to take over the ownership of a phone box, provided it’s no longer needed as a payphone.

In this case a 60-year old red box in Kingsbridge was “adopted” by the local council and BT has also paid to fit a music system, glitter ball and lighting to help highlight the milestone figure. Instead of making phone calls, the phone box will play records from the 1970s and visitors can listen to that by paying £1 to use a dial-a-disc-type record system (all proceeds go to the local charity @115 which supports adults with learning difficulties).

Chris Povey, Kingsbridge Town Council, said:

“This red phone box is an important part of Kingsbridge’s heritage and we were determined to keep it, but we also wanted to do something different with it – something really eye catching so we came up with making it the world’s smallest nightclub. Very importantly, it will also help raise funds for a Kingsbridge charity, which provides a vital service for the local community.”

At their height the United Kingdom was home to around 92,000 of BT’s public payphones, although mobile phones have increasingly turned them into an irrelevance and today there are less than 40,000 (around half of those are loss making). The operator is currently in the process of scrapping 13,400 of them and another 6,600 should be removed by 2022 (here).

Of those that remain, the most likely uses for any adopted boxes are as “art galleries, notice and information boards, book exchanges and to house lifesaving heart defibrillator equipment“. BT is also busy replacing 1,000 boxes in major cities across the UK with their new InLinkUK smart kiosks, which offer free ultrafast public WiFi (shared capacity), free UK phone calls, USB device charging and more.

Katherine Bradley, Operations Manager for BT Payphones, said:

“The Adopt a Kiosk programme has proved to be a huge success. With use of payphones declining by more than 90 per cent in the last decade, many phone boxes are no longer needed as working payphones. But villages and towns across the country have been keen to keep them because the red kiosks are often an integral part of the local community.

Rather than leave the phone boxes empty, they have come up with a huge variety of uses, ranging from mini libraries and mini art galleries to tourist information centres and grocery shops – or the boxes have been equipped with the latest lifesaving heart defibrillator equipment.”

Meanwhile some councils have complained that the number of applications to build new boxes has actually sky-rocketed, not least because a few crafty companies have cottoned on to the Permitted Development loophole, which enables new boxes to be installed without planning permission. The Local Government Association has previously claimed that these often end up becoming “little more than advertising billboards” (here).

Separately, BT and the Kingsbridge council might actually have some competition for their claim to have created the world’s smallest disco. A similar idea was tried using a German phone box in Berlin during 2016, which has very similar dimensions..

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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1 Response
  1. Avatar Cliff

    “BT has also paid to fit a music system”

    Nice of them to do that, lets hope a drunk does not do what they normally do in phone boxes, otherwise it will not be just some of the wacky conversions which will be ‘shocking’ 😉

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