Big Issue Vendor

Ringing out: BT to axe 20,000 unused phone boxes by 2022

The famous yet obsolete telephone box continues to litter streets across Britain. Now, BT has announced, it's time for the derelict boxes to go.

A familiar feature on Britain’s streets, the iconic telephone box is nearing the end of the line.

Once a lifeline to the wider world for many, a way to avoid a row if you were running late for your tea, today they lie dormant, sad and sometimes a bit smelly, housing only empty chip wrappers and the occasional fly-poster.

This week, BT hung up on 20,000 phone boxes across the country after usage plummeted by 90% in the past decade. 33,000 calls a day are still made from phone boxes. But a third are only used on average once a month, with many others abandoned completely.

With the number of calls dropping 20% each year and the cost of maintenance rising to £6m it seems the landmark is running out of spare change to keep the calls going.

At their peak, there were 92,000 payphones in the UK, but with other countries ditching the dated method of communication (Finland, for example, chucked all of their phone booths in 2007), the British telecoms giant has followed suit.

The iconic red phone-box: yours for a small fee.

While the payphone is fazed out, over 2,000 traditional red cast iron boxes will survive the cull – as they are as categorised as Grade II listed buildings. And if you’ve got a spare few quid, you could even pick up one of your own.

BT’s Adopt-A-Kiosk scheme gives communities the chance to retain their iconic red kiosk, developing it into whatever they please. Since the campaign launched, 4,000 red boxes across the UK have been returned to their former glory, housing everything from a life-saving defibrillator to a community library.

Fancy picking up one of your own? Take a look at how your community can band together to save the red icon.