Village unveils transformation of iconic red phone box
PUBLISHED: 12:10 16 June 2019
One of Britain’s iconic red phone boxes has been given a new lease of life after Sidbury residents joined forces to turn it into a book swap.
The box has been in Sidbury as long as residents can remember but came under threat in 2016 when BT said it would be removed due to a lack of use.
With the help of Sidmouth Town Council, a bid was put in to adopt the box for the community, before being purchased for £1.
The road to its transformation faced several challenges including the discovery that the box was sited on private land and partially blocked an old right of way.
Andy Webb, who was among the residents leading the project, said: "They are an iconic thing. We were frankly lucky to get it for £1.
"It's quite amazing. When we were putting in place, people were coming out of their houses to have a look and many also helped. It's only been in place for three weeks but books are coming and going.
"The thing weighs one tonne and concreted in. It was truly a Herculean effort.
"My idea was to have a look for a year and see how it would do and if it had not worked look at something such as an information centre. I think the books will do very well.
"All the mums come past with their children and there are lots of childrens' books in there.
"This has been a marvellous community effort. This wonderful village of Sidbury is only now lacking a tea shop and a safe footpath/ cycle track to Sidford."
Following an agreement with the landowner, the phone box was removed and taken to Mr Webb's house in October before volunteers spent the winter tidying it up. Others donated concrete, built bookshelves to keep costs down.
In May, the box was relocated near Sidbury Church, 200 yards up the road from its previous location, and has proven popular with residents' young and old alike.
Mr Webb thanked the town council and extended thanks to councillors Stuart Hughes and David Barratt and former ward member John Hollick.
Cll Hughes said: "It was indeed a pleasant site to see the reincarnation and relocation of one of Sidbury's former Telephone Kiosks along side the wall near the entrance to the Church.
"There's been no shortage of donations of books and it's going to be an asset to the village."
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