Shropshire phone box is now village's library

For nearly 80 years this iconic red phone box helped connect a charming village in Shropshire to the outside world.

For nearly 80 years this iconic red phone box helped connect a charming village in Shropshire to the outside world.

It was erected in Coreley, near Clee Hill, to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King George V but was in danger of being taken away by BT after falling into disuse.

Click on the image to the right for more photos

However, rather than lose the ‘Jubilee Box’ local residents bought the local landmark for £1 and have converted it into one of the world’s smallest libraries.

People can now visit the box and take books home at their leisure. The only rule laid down by locals is that if a book is taken it must be replaced with another title, thus ensuring a full quota of about 50 books.

Chairman of Coreley Parish Council, Les Bywater, 76, said the restoration of the dilapidated Jubilee Box had taken a few months and books had only recently been added.

He added the miniature library had gone down a storm with residents who fully embraced the novel idea.

Mr Bywater said: “A local carpenter made the shelves to fit into the box but most of the credit has to go to parish councillor Theresa Mackrow and retired teacher Noreen Cole who came up with the idea and completed the refurbishment.

“The whole village is very excited about it. Everyone is using it, even the children.

“We asked a couple of older children to make sure everyone was sticking to the book swap rules and so far everything has been fine.

“Originally the plan was to turn the box into a greenhouse but the lady who volunteered to manage it sadly died. The villagers then decided to convert it into a little library.”

Mr Bywater and Jane Thomas, vice-chair of Coreley Parish Council, visited the new miniature library to take a look.

He said Shropshire Council’s mobile library only visited the isolated village occasionally, so the new idea was a great asset for local bookworms.

Resident Norman Goodman, 69, said the phone box had been part of village life for as long as he could remember. He said: “It was one of the first phone boxes brought into the area.”

The phone box was placed in Coreley in 1935 as thousands of others were rolled out across the nation to commemorate King George’s Jubilee.

BT decided to decommission the Coreley box after local residents switched to land lines and mobile telephones.

There are thousands of red phone boxes across the country which have been decommissioned or are being decommissioned by BT because of lack of use.

Villagers in Coreley took on their phone box under BT’s Adopt a Kiosk campaign which was started in 2008.

Under the scheme nearly 2,000 boxes have been taken over by communities for £1. BT chiefs say there are only about 10,000 red phone boxes left around the UK.

Coreley has joined Westbury-sub-Mendip in Somerset where in 2009 villagers also converted their decommissioned phone box into a miniature library. In 2010 engineers turned a disused phone box into a cash machine and placed it in the centre of Peterborough.

The classic red phone box was designed by architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott for a competition in 1924 and called the K1. The Coreley box is the iconic K6 model which stands at 8ft 3ins and sits on a 3ft square base.

By Peter Finch

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