Belfast Telegraph

Dial A for adoption: £1 can secure historic red phone box

A red phone box in Strangford
A red phone box in Strangford
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

A call has gone out for communities to 'adopt' the last remaining red phone boxes in Northern Ireland - for just £1.

Telecoms giant BT is continuing its campaign to repurpose the kiosks.

Many have been used to house life-saving defibrillators while some of the more creative makeovers include a conversion to a library, a museum and even a miniature night club.

Northern Ireland has more than 1,600 phone boxes, including 180 red boxes, of which 27 are listed. At least six have already been adopted, including kiosks in the villages of Ardstraw in Co Tyrone and Garrison in Co Fermanagh.

BT described the project a rare chance to transform the neglected red boxes into something inspirational.

Paul Murnaghan, local director of BT's Enterprise division, said: "We are delighted to be announcing the launch of the Adopt a Kiosk Scheme in Northern Ireland.

"What better way to make use of our existing kiosks than to offer communities the chance to adopt them in their local area and give them a new lease of life?

"It's simple to apply (to the scheme) and individual assessments will take place to confirm if the adoption is possible and whether there is availability in a specific area."

In England another 3,683 red phone boxes are available for adoption, with hundreds more in Scotland and Wales.

Since 2008 some 5,800 payphones have been adopted by communities.

The classic General Post Office phone box was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and has become a national symbol.

With mobile phones now the norm for most people, demand for public telephone boxes has drastically reduced, with calls from BT phone boxes having plunged by about 90% over the past decade.

Katherine Bradley, BT's senior payphones commercial and operations manager, welcomed the initiative.

"We're pleased to be giving more communities the chance to adopt a phone box," she said.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for communities to own a piece of history.

"The opportunities are endless and we've already seen some amazing transformations. Applying is easy and quick and we're always happy to speak to communities about adopting our traditional BT red payphone boxes."

At their peak in 2002 there were 92,000 BT payphones across the UK.

That is now down to 57,000 in total, made up of 48,000 phone boxes (including 9,500 red phone boxes) on the street and 9,000 payphones on private sites such as rail stations, airports and shopping centres.

Vandalism costs approximately £5.2m a year, with BT having to replace 18,000 panes of glass in kiosks and more than 15,000 handsets over the majority of 12-month periods.

Communities can apply to adopt a kiosk through a recognised public body, such as a parish council, community council, town council or charity.

  • Details on how to apply to Adopt A Kiosk can be found at

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