Not long ago I lamented about London’s disappearing red telephone box by asking, “Where Has The Red Call Box Gone“?  Any first-time visitor aims to capture a compulsory selfie walking in/out or faux calling with this red icon.  Where did the telephone boxes go?

It’s safe to say mobile phones eliminated the need for pay phones, though if you keep your eye open, you’ll find a few functioning capsules standing proud through London.  Just recently, Lumiere returned to London after a two-year absence.  The spectacular light show displayed across the city highlighted numerous iconic structures.  One, in particular, displayed the classic red phone box in a way few would imagine.  Clever, right?  Who answers if the phone rings?

The red telephone box is a recognized icon without a doubt.  Its red pillar box red, cast iron exterior and domed roof to the crown insignia and panelled windows all come to mind when one thinks of London.  The truth is, however, the design is British and doesn’t solely belong to London.

Giles Gilbert Scott’s famous design was first introduced following a competition in 1924.  Variations of Scott’s design appeared across England, from remote villages to the London street corners we all know.

Sadly, the red telephone classics are becoming obsolete.

Some, however, are being preserved as forward-thinking entrepreneurs and communities re-purpose them as delightful places to share books, buy coffee or pop by for lunch and salad.  One is a first-aid stop; another could be the worlds’ smallest art gallery. Ironically, you’ll even find mobile phone repair shops and charging stations housed in the scarlet red kiosks.

Thousands of dormant phone booths around the UK have been saved from destruction.  When new businesses re-use the classic, they are refurbished, given a paint job, new electric wiring, speciality glass and locks.  Everything is practically put back to its original state.  

How cool is that?  You can now take your obligatory London tourist photo and order a cup of coffee at the same time.

Umar Khalid, co-owner of the Kape Barako red telephone box coffee stall, serves a customer on Hampstead High Street in London on Aug. 3, 2016. (MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Miles Willis)

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