Six uses for Norfolk’s abandoned red phone boxes

The Norwich phone box in Tombland which could so be converted into a miniature office for travelling

The Norwich phone box in Tombland which could so be converted into a miniature office for travelling businessmen. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

We love red phone boxes, and rightly so.

They are as British as Churchill, roast beef and sunburn. And they evoke memories of running out of 10p pieces, reversing the charges (when did you last do that?) and seeing how many people you could squeeze into it.Or maybe that was just me.

But they are out-of-service, idiosyncratic symbols of the olden days.

We can't just scrap them, though. Therefore, many minds have been taxed in trying to find new uses for them – including village information points, cafés and defibrillator bases.

In Norwich, the latest idea is an office. The downside is the lack of space, while the upside is the absence of colleagues.

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It might work, if people don't mind being peered at by passers-by while they send emails and compile spreadsheets.

But, as someone who has had many and various memories of red phone boxes, I have my own ideas on what to do with them. They include:

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1 – A changing cubicle, as a tribute to Superman.

2 – A public loo. After all, that's what so many of the ones in cities and towns were used as.

3 – A museum of dodgy call cards down the years, showing the evolution of ladies' hairstyles.

4 – A phone box. What I mean is a place where people can go if they want to have a loud conversation on their mobile without receiving a withering look from me.

5 – Modern stocks, with a head-hole at the front, for clubland yobs to be contained in while people pelt them with soggy kebabs and spray them with cheap cologne.

6 – The location of blue plaques. The phone box at Sidestrand in north Norfolk could have one reading: 'STEVEN DOWNES - 1992-95. From here, he called his Dad for a lift home to Cromer after running out of steam while walking home from the Mundesley Royal.' Another one could mark the occasions when my friends and I squeezed into the phone box near the boating lake in Cromer to shelter from the nor-easterly and eat chips with gravy from Le Moon.

They really do hold so many memories. And it is easy to forget how crucial they were in the days before mobile phones. Having no phone box nearby meant having no way of contacting your loved ones.

Now, contact is constant, communication is instantanous and technology is remarkable.

But it won't stop us reminiscing about the good old days of the red phone boxes. And I for one am glad that they are here to stay – in whatever guise.

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