Bid to save city's red phone boxes for future generations

The Grade II listed phone box in St Gregorys Alley

The Grade II listed phone box in St Gregorys Alley - Credit: Maya Derrick

Work is under way to restore neglected historic red telephone boxes across the city to their former glory.

The boxes, which had been left to decay, are Grade II listed -  meaning they are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them.

Kieran Yates, 48 of Trafalgar Square in Poringland, contacted the Evening News' We'll Sort It' campaign with the hope of preserving the kiosks for city folk and visitors alike.

Kieran Yates of Poringland hopes the BT red telephone boxes in Norwich get the TLC they deserve

Kieran Yates of Poringland hopes BT red telephone boxes in Norwich get the TLC they deserve - Credit: Kieran Yates

He said that they had become and "eyesore" that had been "left to decay". So the Evening News team went to work.

A spokeswoman for BT previously stated a maintenance team would visit the payphones to assess the damage.

Mr Yates said: "They've done a good job in cleaning the one in Weavers Lane.

Work has started to clear up the vandalised Grade II listed BT phone boxes in Norwich, like this one in Weavers Lane

Work has started to clear up the vandalised Grade II listed BT phone boxes in Norwich, like this one in Weavers Lane - Credit: Kieran Yates

"I saw the boxes on Saturday, a sunny day, when Norwich was really busy. It was really good to see that some effort has been made to spruce them up."

Kieran said he is holding off celebrations until the work is completed in its entirety.

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He added: "The paintwork on the Weavers Lane kiosk is forlorn and needs a refreshing coat of red paint and the crown picked out in gold. 

The Grade II listed phone box in Weavers Lane, which has been scrubbed of graffiti

The Grade II listed phone box in Weavers Lane, which has been scrubbed of graffiti - Credit: Kieran Yates

A selection of BT's red phone boxes are Grade II listed, like this one in Willow Lane

The Weavers Lane Grade-II listed phone box before cleaning - Credit: Kieran Yates

"The other listed kiosks in St Gregorys Alley and Magdalen Street look clean of graffiti. 

The St Gregorys kiosk looks reasonably recently painted but the Magdalen Street kiosk paintwork is very drab.

The Grade II listed phone box in St Gregorys Alley

The Grade II listed phone box in St Gregorys Alley - Credit: Maya Derrick

"This is a step in the right direction, I just wish that the works would be taken out proactively rather than waiting for general public complaints.

"Who knows if they'll be vandalised again, though. It's hard to control that."

The BT spokeswoman added: "We’re saddened to see vandalism like this to our payphones in Norwich.

The Grade II listed phone box in Magdalen Street, next to St Saviors Church

The Grade II listed phone box in Magdalen Street, next to St Saviors Church - Credit: Maya Derrick

"We welcome any measures that local authorities can put in place to help prevent vandalism.

"We encourage anyone who witnesses any vandalism to payphones to report this to the police."

To report a damaged payphone, call BT's helpline on 0800 661 610 from Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm or email customer.serv.payphones@bt.com.

The Grade II listed phone box in St Gregorys Alley

The Grade II listed phone box in St Gregorys Alley - Credit: Maya Derrick

A police spokeswoman said those wishing to report an incident of vandalism should contact Norfolk Constabulary on 101.

History of the famous red phone box

In 1912 Britain's first phone boxes were put in place to utilise the new technology sweeping the world. 

But it was not until 1935 that the most famous design - with the domed top and gold, royal insignia - began appearing. It is called the K6 or 'Kiosk 6' as it was the sixth design change.

The red boxes were owned and run by the Post Office but British Telecom took them on in 1980 at which point there were 73,000 nationwide.

A process of modernisation took place and by the late 1990s and the dawn of the mobile age the boxes rapidly began to disappear. 

Many were sold to private buyers who often displayed them in gardens. But some have been adopted by communities and turned into libraries for book swaps, information points or to house defibrillators. 

In 2006 the boxes were voted among Britain's best design work with the Spitfire, the Mini, the Routemaster bus and Concorde.