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BT puts call box removal on hold after residents’ sit-in
A TRADITIONAL red telephone box in Headington looks to have been saved after a community campaign to stop it from being moved.
Residents of Old Headington became aware that BT was planning to remove the phone box because it was not being used and had not taken any money.
But by the time residents found out about the proposal the deadline for appealing or buying it for the community had passed.
Now, after a sit-in was staged on Monday morning, BT has put its plans to remove the iconic phone box on hold.
City councillor for Headington, Ruth Wilkinson put a notice up in the phone box, which has now been disconnected, asking BT not to remove it.
She said: “I don’t think the removal was publicised enough.
“Since we became aware it was going to be taken away we have got a lot of people who have come forward wanting to adopt it now.
“We have a whole army of people lined up to defend the phone box.”
The phone box is a K6, which was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1935 to commemorate the silver jubilee of King George V.
First designed in 1924, the telephone box was painted red at the insistence of the Post Office – Scott had preferred the colour silver.
The K6 was the first red telephone kiosk to be extensively used outside London.
The phone box in Old Headington is mentioned in Oxford City Council’s appraisal of the conservation area, which says: “Traditional street furniture including the red post box, red telephone box and black-painted Lucy and Dean street lamps are a positive element of the village’s historic character.”
Kennett Road resident Stephanie Jenkins helped protect the phone box from BT engineers by guarding it.
She said: “Everyone loves red phone boxes and in Oxford tourists crowd into them.
“It just looks right there. We’re not worried about the phone and we are realistic that no one uses it any more, but the box itself is really attractive.”
There are 13 red telephone boxes in Oxford, of which four are Grade II-listed.
Before the sit-in BT spokesman Mitch Reid said: “This payphone is being removed because very few people have used it to make calls in recent times.
“Yes, it’s in a conservation area but the payphone itself is not listed and therefore we do not require planning permission to remove it. When a payphone is being removed we post a notice in it advising users of our intention to remove it and advising them to contact the local council if they have any objections.”
...and a college is on the line over historic booth
ONE of Oxford’s most prominent colleges has spoken out against BT’s plans to get rid of a nearby red phone box.
All Souls College has criticised BT’s plans to remove the iconic red box outside its building in Oxford’s High Street and replace it with a replica housing an ATM.
But the move has upset the Oxford University college, which has expressed its “strong opposition” to the plan.
- David Clark of Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society at the box in High Street
Dr Sarah Beaver, the college’s domestic bursar, said: “The current red telephone box by Gilbert Scott is a design classic which has long been a well-recognised and much-admired landmark on the High Street.
“Its proposed replacement by the modern blue and white kiosk and ATM facade illustrated in the application would be totally out of keeping with the general architectural characteristics of the High Street, where buildings and signage are all of traditional design.
“The general view of a street which is a key feature of the Oxford landscape will undoubtedly be seriously marred by the proposed new kiosk with its modern side panel.”
David Clark, of the Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society, said: “I am very pleased the college and the warden have written in. The phone box is absolutely an important part of the streetscape.”
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