Telephone Kiosk on Royal Parade

This local feature is bound to be under threat. Around the country thousands of these red telephone boxes have already disappeared from the streets to be carted off to rot in various cemeteries, from where you can buy them via the internet for prices ranging up to £2,395 with free delivery.
BT has confirmed that of its 40,000 public phone boxes it will scrap 20,000 under-used boxes, nation-wide, over the next 5 years, citing  a 90 percent decline in use over the past decade and maintenance costs at around £6 million per year. Still 33,000 calls are made every day from BT kiosks, but that is down from 92,000 in 2002. More than half of the remaining boxes are loss-making, thanks to the ubiquitous mobile.  BT says it is committed to continue to provide this public service as long as it is clearly needed. Wherever there is no other public call box within 400 metres, the consent of the local authority will be sought before removing a kiosk.
The Royal Parade kiosk is a listed building. Made of cast iron, it is known as the K6 type, mass produced from the original design made by *Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1935.
I have passed this kiosk almost every day for about 40 years. I have never seen it vandalised. On the other hand, it usually smells strongly of tobacco smoke and the floor has sometimes been littered with those little plastic bags in which drugs are sold. I have frequently checked that it is still working, but I have never seen anybody using  the telephone. BT is prepared to sell the kiosk to a local council or a registered charity for some kind of community use. The Chislehurst Society, being a registered charity,  is proposing to buy the kiosk for the standard £1, to leave it where it stands and to invite suggestions for its future use, one idea being that it might be fitted with shelves and become a free book exchange.  It has been re-painted, the door has been re-hung and the glass panels have been secured.


*Giles Gilbert Scott designed Liverpool Anglican Cathedral and Battersea Power Station. He is not to be confused with his architect grandfather, George Gilbert Scott, who designed the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens and the Midland Hotel at St Pancras Station.

By Colin Yardley, Chislehurst Commons