Bookish new role for red phone box
PUBLISHED: 09:10 30 September 2013 | UPDATED: 09:10 30 September 2013
© Archant Norfolk 2013
A redundant red phone box at the heart of a Norfolk village has been given a new purpose in life – after being renovated and re-opened as a community library.
Once a vital communications lifeline, the symbolic British icon dominating the village green at Great Snoring, near Fakenham, had fallen into disrepair and was decommissioned in 2011.
But villagers have rallied around to restore the cast-iron listed building to its gleaming red glory, and to give it an innovative new use as the Great Snoring K6 Library.
Bookworms can now browse the shelves laden with donated copies of crime, mystery and romance paperbacks, reference guides and children’s stories. Popular authors include Ian Rankin and Danielle Steel, and there are autobiographies from the likes of Geoff Boycott and Bob Geldof.
But there’s one key difference to mainstream libraries – as nobody will be fined for not bringing books back.
The librarians are encouraging residents, weekend visitors and holidaymakers to exchange them with their own books, to keep a healthy turnover of titles and to keep the village’s reading list fresh.
About 30 people turned out for a ceremony on Saturday to see the library formally opened by Jill Brettingham Smith, a senior resident of the village who celebrates her 89th birthday next week.
Mary Edmunds, who organised the project, said: “We have about 150 books in the kiosk at the moment, but I see them as being the tip of the iceberg. We need to keep replacing them and changing them to keep it interesting. I am hoping people will bring books they have enjoyed themselves, and which they think other people would enjoy, rather than just getting rid of books they don’t want.
“It is a really good thing for this small village because there is no pub and no shop, so it is creating another focal point. It is encouraging people to read and there is the social aspect as well.”
The telephone box was granted listed building status in 1989. It is a K6 type, designed in 1935 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott to celebrate the Jubilee of King George V.
Several villagers contributed to the library project, with much of the renovation and re-painting work carried out by Chris Hubbard who was thanked at the opening ceremony.
Reed Bowden, who has taken on the role of librarian, said: “You cannot have a derelict icon like a K6 without doing something about it. I know people elsewhere have made them into information centres or art galleries, but we thought we would go down the library route.
“There are residents weekenders and country cottage bookers who come for a week and might want to take a book to the beach. There is no great obligation to bring it back. If they want to take it, they can take it – but of course they could also replace them with their own books.”