Novel use for village’s classic red phone box

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YOU’LL find more than the phone book if you visit the old call box in Lawshall.

While Suffolk County Council may be bringing down the axe on library services, villagers have come up with their own version after launching a book swap shop and information kiosk in a redundant phone box.

With the popularity of mobile phones leading to the diminishing use of public phone boxes, BT had been looking to remove the iconic village box in Lawshall.

Instead, the parish council decided to buy the box from BT for the token price of £1 – and then set about asking villages how it could best be used.

Barry Harber, parish council chairman, said: “We ran a competition in the village to see who could come up with the best idea of what to do with the kiosk and to see what people wanted in the village. In the end, we combined the two winning ideas, a book swap shop and an information kiosk.

“Our idea is not unique but it will be enjoyed by the villagers.”

The book swap shop is completely free of charge for users and also allows villagers to advertise on newly installed notice boards. Residents have donated about 100 books and magazines to the swap shop. These will be emptied out once a year and donated to charity, and new donated books put in to keep users interested.

“It is like a little library,” said Barry’s wife Paula, who has donated to the project. “People have been really generous.”

Dorothy Griggs, parish council clerk, said: “I hope it will be a positive thing for the village rather than have the telephone kiosk stand there and do nothing. It is there for people to use as and when they want to. It is not manned but we shall obviously keep an eye on it to make sure it is kept tidy.”