IT CELEBRATED its 75th birthday two years ago, weighs three-quarters of a ton and is as British as Big Ben and red London buses.
But with the growing use of mobile phones, the dwindling numbers of people making use of public telephone kiosks has seen thousands of the iconic red phone boxes sold off since the 1980s.
Four years ago, their owners, British Telecom, introduced its ‘Adopt a Kiosk’ scheme whereby communities could also purchase their local red boxes, this time for just £1.
That included the box in the main street of Stichill, near Kelso, which was acquired by the local community council and restored by residents, Len McDermid and Alec Black last summer.
Since then it has been used for everything from a display of historical photographs and a history of the village to an exhibition marking the centenary of nearby Ednam Primary School.
But now it has been taken more than for the next two months by the members of Kelso Camera Club for a display of their work. Mr McDermid says it is a real asset for the community and one which people are being encouraged to use.
“We were delighted that Kelso Camera Club accepted an invitation to put on an exhibition in the kiosk during July, with another planned for August.
“The aim is to make it a real showcase for local creative talent and a community asset for the village.”
Kelso Camera Club chairman Ian Topping says mounting an exhibition in a phonebox has proved quite a challenge.
More used to showing off more than 90 photographs in its big exhibitions, the club had to select only nine prints and on a much smaller than scale that members were used to.
“That was the challenge, but we saw it as another super opportunity to show what the club’s members can do and the fact that it could be the smallest art galleries in Scotland also made it a bit special.”
Introduced in 1935 to commemorate the silver jubilee of King George V, nearly 70,000 red K6 phone boxes were installed across Britain before production ended in 1968.
The designation ‘K6’ means it is the sixth design in the series – Kiosk Number 6 – and was designed by architect Sir Giles Scott who was also responsible for Battersea power station.
The Royal Fine Arts Commission approved of Post Office red being used the standard colour, although Scott himself apparently disapproved, wanting the outside of urban boxes be coloured silver and rural kiosks a shade of dove-grey.
By the spring of this year, just 11,000 of the total of 51,500 public kiosks in the UK are the traditional red boxes.
In May, BT announced plans to sell off 60 of the classic red boxes, giving private individuals their first chance in 25 years to own a piece of British history for £1,950.
BT is also giving 400 boxes in London and Weymouth a facelift, thanks to 1,500 litres of red paint, ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games.