The end for Bootham’s red phone box?

Phone box, illuminated from within, at dusk

Bootham’s red phone box, as night falls, 25 June 2019

I wondered many times over the years, when passing this phone box on Bootham on my walk to and from town, if it might be under threat of removal at some point.

I realised recently that there’s a notice in it saying it’s to be removed.

Official sign indicating phone box removal

BT sign inside Bootham’s red phone box

The notice has a date suggesting that it’s been in there for quite some time, so perhaps it’s too late to do anything to retain this handsome and iconic structure, but I hope not.

The phone inside it may be seen as virtually redundant, though it’s not totally redundant. I remember one night not so long ago that it was used by a very distressed woman I met while walking into town, who needed to ring a family member and needed some help in that situation.

The kiosk is still illuminated from within at night, and it’s particularly handsome and cheering, and somehow comforting that it is still lit up. It’s something I only properly appreciated recently, so dashed up there again after dark to take the photo at the top of this page.

Here’s how it looked one dull December day, just after getting a new door.

Red phonebox with new door

Bootham’s phone box in December 2013, with a replacement door

These old kiosks are proper handsome things in our streets, where they survive.

Other phone boxes like this have been reused, or ‘adopted’, providing other services and facilities, and perhaps this one should be too?

The sign inside it doesn’t say when it’s likely to be removed or if there have already been any offers to ‘adopt’ it for other uses.

A mental health support kiosk … ?

I was thinking about things I’d read about other phone boxes and their reuse, and how this might be connected to a specific need in that particular place.

So in view of its location, at the edge of Bootham Park Hospital, just outside the railings of that place that was for so long providing mental health care, and no longer does, perhaps if it could be retained it could have a connection with that. Perhaps a small library of books and leaflets to offer help and comfort in times of mental distress, perhaps messages of support written by passers-by attached to its walls and windows. Perhaps a little comforting haven for people to pop in to when feeling like everything’s got too much. Perhaps just something for some of the city’s residents who might have been looked after in the big grand building just inside those railings, once upon a time, before its rather brutal closure.

If there are plans to adopt it, reuse it, and you know about them, please add a comment.

. . . . .

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  By Lisa @YorkStories 11 July 2019 , To link to this page's proper location please use the > permalink

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3 comments

  1. David Bower

    It would indeed be a great shame if this telephone box could not be retained in some form, as it forms a particularly strong image on probably the nicest main road into York, with its mix of architecture and greenery. I wonder if the Telephone box nearby at the end of Marygate is also under threat?
    These iconic boxes were once seen everywhere, and were part of the fabric of every City, Town and Village.
    I lived in nearby St Olave’s road from 1968 until 1984, and well remember there were 4 similar red telephone boxes next to each other at the corner of the road and Bootham. At first I wondered why this was, as most of the time one would seem sufficient, however I soon learnt that these were primarily for the use of the boarders at St Peter’s School. This remember was in the days before mobile phones. Even though there were 4 telephone boxes, most early evenings there were still queues of boys in their distinctive pale brown blazers waiting patiently to ‘phone home’.

  2. John Scurr

    I never know the relevant legislation on this. Bootham is a Conservation Area designated by York City Council. I believe this gives some protection to existing buildings.
    So far as I can see this Telephone Box is not a listed building, although others elsewhere are, such as this one in Eastbourne.
    https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101393867-k6-telephone-kiosk-eastbourne#.XS2e1Xt7mUk
    “REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
    The K6 telephone kiosk on Marine Parade, Eastbourne, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
    * It has a strong visual relationship with three listed buildings, two of which are Grade II*
    * It is a representative example within a coastal setting of this iconic C20 industrial design”
    Is the Bootham one not worthy of the same treatment?

  3. I’ve seen other phone boxes put to use holding a defibrillator. However, a like the idea of it being a helpline to the Samaritans, or similar. Regardless, these should be retail Ned for historical purposes as well!

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