Conversion of Traditional UK Red Phonebox to Library

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Project by Don Johnson posted 02-05-2019 01:30 PM 1298 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The traditional red telephone boxes in the UK are tending to fall into disuse as practically everyone now has their own mobile ‘phone. In villages, rather than removing them, British Telecom are asking Parish Councils if they wish to Adopt a Box, at a nominal fee of £1. As reclaimed ones can sell for thousands of pounds, this is a bargain!
Our village of Chedzoy, in Somerset, took advantage of this scheme, and invited ideas for its continued use in our village newsletter. The suggestion that received greatest support was to turn our box into a free lending library which villagers could use to donate and borrow books, and Sarah Sutcliffe agreed to manage the project.
Sarah asked me if I could make some shelves for the box, and we were lucky to be able to look at some already installed in a box in our neighbouring village of Stawell ( pronounced ‘Stawl’) and see what was required.
Besides the shelves, a cover was needed for the electrical connections for the lamp in the roof, and the second picture shows what I made – using pine for the shelves, and ash veneered MDF for the back and cover. I was a little disappointed with the blotchiness of the stain I used on the frame, so just used plain Danish Oil on the shelves themselves – which were laminated from some narrow strips donated by another villager, John Dethier (who had previously helped with material for the village notice board ).
The third picture shows the box being given its first clean by Sarah and Ian – to remove moss and dirt accumulated over past years – but when the weather improves we intend to remove the build up of old coats and re-paint the box in its traditional red colour.
The third picture was taken when the box was filling up, and it is now totally full, with other donated books ready for periodic swap-overs by Sarah to keep the contents up-to-date.

-- Don, Somerset UK,

10 comments so far

View EarlS's profile


2661 posts in 2680 days

#1 posted 02-05-2019 02:21 PM

Brilliant idea and well done!!! Great to see an iconic phone booth being preserved rather than demolished.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View ohwoodeye's profile


2168 posts in 3485 days

#2 posted 02-05-2019 03:49 PM

Cool idea.
I want one of these boxes!

-- "Fine Woodworking" is the name given to a project that takes 3 times longer than normal to finish because you used hand tools instead of power tools. ----Mike, Waukesha, WI

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1081 posts in 2644 days

#3 posted 02-05-2019 04:08 PM

We’ve done the same thing in our village. Great idea.

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View pottz's profile


4752 posts in 1316 days

#4 posted 02-05-2019 04:35 PM

yeah thats a great idea to save something so iconic and provide a nice service to people.we need more of this everywhere.instead of trashing things.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View anthm27's profile


680 posts in 1442 days

#5 posted 02-05-2019 11:40 PM

Great Job,
Seems still enough room for Superman to get changed also.

View majuvla's profile


14189 posts in 3200 days

#6 posted 02-06-2019 10:54 AM

So great and clever idea!!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View MadeinMT's profile


269 posts in 2492 days

#7 posted 02-06-2019 02:24 PM

Spot on!

-- Ron, Montana

View oldnovice's profile


7469 posts in 3700 days

#8 posted 02-06-2019 05:37 PM

Nice idea!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View recycle1943's profile


2845 posts in 1954 days

#9 posted 02-08-2019 11:27 AM

We have street ‘libraries’ here in our community but not as elaborate nor as attractive. Great idea !

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View NormG's profile


6428 posts in 3336 days

#10 posted 02-09-2019 03:26 PM

What a great idea

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

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