The old red telephone box is an icon of Britain from days gone by. They were very popular and I can recall the time when most households in the U.K. never had a phone, let alone a mobile one.
Is There Anybody There?
One of my earliest memories is barely being able to walk and being taken to the local phone box by my Mother to call my Grandparents who lived on the coast in Margate. They must have been well off because they had a phone in their house. As I recall, you couldn’t just lift the receiver and dial-up their number and ‘dring dring’ they would answer. No, you had to call the Operator on 100 and give her the number to connect you. It all sounds a million miles from today’s technology with Zoom, Facebook Messenger and Skype etc.
Button A or Button B
Then you had the two large silver pushbuttons, namely, Button A and Button B. If my memory serves me well, you put your old sixpence piece in the slot and when someone answered your call, you pushed Button A. If they didn’t answer, you pushed Button B and you would get your money back. Then there were the pips. Your hard-earned sixpence would last maybe two minutes if you made a local call or one minute if it was a long-distance call. I bet anyone younger reading this under the age of 40 must be scratching their head!
It wasn’t all numbers back in those days either. Phones were given acronyms depending on where they were. So if you lived in Margate like my Grandparents, their town came under the district of Thanet. The first three letters would make up part of the phone number, so you would call THA 123456. That’s why the dial had letters as well as numbers. Kids these days don’t know the half of it, said with a big smile on my face.
Back to today and these red phone boxes are disappearing from the British Isles as there’s not much call for them these days. Nearly everyone in the world owns a mobile phone, making the famous K6 phone box redundant. Some towns and villages have kept them and turned them into libraries or for storing defibrillators for emergencies. The majority of phoneboxes though have been sent to a scrapyard in West Yorkshire where the general public can buy them.
I would love one for my back garden, it would be great for keeping my tools in, spades, forks, hoes, brushes and all sorts of flower pots. It would look great too for visitors passing through the village. I have made enquiries about purchasing one of these icons, but they are so expensive. Anywhere between £1,500 and £2,500. It’s a little too expensive for me, so unless I win the lottery or I have one as a birthday present (I can only hope) I’m afraid it’s not going to happen. It will have to be a little wooden shed for my garden tools then.
If you’re interested in buying a fully restored, very expensive, red telephone box, here’s a link