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Hanging on to its telephone box – Devon town finds world record-breaking way to keep iconic landmark

Press Release   •   Jun 05, 2018 09:00 BST

To celebrate the UK’s 5000th phone box adoption, the ‘world’s smallest disco’ has been created in an iconic red kiosk in Kingsbridge, Devon. For just £1 communities can apply to take over the ownership of a BT phone box as part of BT’s ‘Adopt a Kiosk

A Devon town has kept its traditional red phone box by turning it into the world’s smallest night club.

Kingsbridge Town Council took over ownership of the redundant phone box in Fore Street, Kingsbridge, from BT - and promptly turned it into a hotspot for music lovers.

The diminutive Devon disco marks a major milestone in BT’s Adopt a Kiosk programme by being the 5,000th kiosk “adoption” in the UK. Weighing three quarters of a ton, it stands eight feet three inches tall and sits on a base three feet square.

As well as handing over ownership of the red K6 kiosk to the town council, BT is helping to pay for a music system, a glitter ball and lighting as part of the celebrations around reaching this key national milestone.

Instead of making phone calls, the phone box will play records such as ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ by Blondie (1978) and “Telephone Line” by Electric Light Orchestra (1976). Music lovers will be able to listen to a record by paying £1 to use a dial-a-disc-type record system.

All proceeds will be donated to Kingsbridge-based charity @115 which supports adults with learning difficulties.

The Kingsbridge phone box - well over 60 years old - appears to beat the current holder of the ‘world’s smallest nightclub’ title, Club 28 in Rotherham, which reportedly holds a maximum of seven people, including the DJ. It has little more than half the floor space of the Rotherham disco and will usually only accommodate one music lover at a time…or two at a squeeze.

Of the 5,000 adopted kiosks across the UK, the Kingsbridge phone box is believed to be the only one to be used as a disco. The most likely uses for adopted boxes are as art galleries, notice and information boards, book exchanges and to house lifesaving heart defibrillator equipment.

Councillor Chris Povey, of Kingsbridge Town Council, said: “This red phone box is an important part of Kingsbridge’s heritage and we were determined to keep it, but we also wanted to do something different with it - something really eye catching so we came up with making it the world’s smallest nightclub. Very importantly, it will also help raise funds for a Kingsbridge charity, which provides a vital service for the local community.”

Katherine Bradley, commercial and operations manager for BT Payphones, said: “Congratulations to the people of Kingsbridge for coming up with such an unusual and clever idea. The 5,000th adoption is a perfect example of the sort of creativity shown by communities wanting to find a new lease of life for many traditional red phone boxes.

“The Adopt a Kiosk programme has proved to be a huge success. With use of payphones declining by more than 90 per cent in the last decade, many phone boxes are no longer needed as working payphones. But villages and towns across the country have been keen to keep them because the red kiosks are often an integral part of the local community.

“Rather than leave the phone boxes empty, they have come up with a huge variety of uses, ranging from mini libraries and mini art galleries to tourist information centres and grocery shops - or the boxes have been equipped with the latest lifesaving heart defibrillator equipment.”

The “Adopt a Kiosk” programme was introduced in 2008 for communities wanting to keep a traditional red phone box which is no longer needed as a payphone. To comply with legal requirements, the local authority or other organisation taking ownership needs to buy the box from BT for £1. Further details are available at www.bt.com/adopt.

Notes to editors

Red telephone boxes

There are still about 5,500 working red payphones across the UK. The first incarnation of the red phone box was designed by architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott for a competition in 1924. This design, the K2, was introduced in 1926, predominantly in London.Ten years later Scott refined his design and the famous K6 or 'Jubilee Kiosk' was introduced nationwide to celebrate George V's Silver Jubilee.

The K2 telephone box

  • Stands 9 feet 3 inches tall and sits on an area of 3 feet 6 inches square.
  • Weighs in at one and a quarter tons.
  • Made from cast iron with a hardwood door.
  • Has 3 sides glazed with 18 panes each of 32oz glass.
  • New they cost £35.14s.0d each.

The K6 telephone box

  • Stands at 8 feet 3 inches and sits on a base 3 feet square.
  • Weighs three quarters of a ton and again has a teak hardwood door.
  • There are 8 large panes and 16 small panes on each of the 3 sides.

Payphone use

Payphone use has been declining for many years primarily because of the use of mobile phones. BT is committed to providing a public payphone service, but with usage declining by over 90 per cent in the last decade, the company has continued to remove payphones which are no longer needed.

About BT

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For the year ended 31 March 2018, BT Group’s reported revenue was £23,723m with reported profit before taxation of £2,616m.

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