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Published: 22:01, 05 December 2016 |
Updated: 09:05, 07 December 2016
More than 400 pay phones around the county could disappear as BT rings the changes.
The telecoms giant has proposed around 430 phone box closures to local authorities, after usage declined by more than 90% in the last decade.
With the rise of the mobile phone and 93% of adults now owning one, it seems the need for phone boxes has been put on hold.
Professor Tim Luckhurst, a historian at the University of Kent, said: "They've gone downhill because we've all got mobile phones, none of us need to use them for their original purpose.
"We don't nip into a phone box to make a phone call, people often nip into them to do something a lot less pleasant these days.
"But the truth is they look wonderful and we know tourists love them - if you go up to Covent Garden in London there's a whole row of them preserved, simply because people like taking photographs in front of them. They're Britain - they matter."
A BT spokesperson said: “BT is carrying out an ongoing review of pay phones which we believe are no longer needed.
"None of these pay phones will be removed without the consent of the local authority.
“Any removal of pay phones is carried out in strict adherence to the Ofcom guidelines and, where appropriate, with the consent of local authorities.
"BT is committed to providing a public pay phone service, but with usage declining... we’ve continued to review and remove payphones which are no longer needed.
"In all instances where there’s no other payphone within 400 metres, we’ll ask for consent from the local authority to remove the payphone.
"Where we receive objections from the local authority, we won’t remove the payphone."
There are 1,165 payphones currently in Kent, meaning more than a third are at risk.
"For example, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry and his friends go down to the Ministry of Magic in an elevator that's made out of one of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's red telephone boxes.
"They appear all over the place - The Beatles used them in their first film A Hard Day's Night in the opening sequence."
To lower the number of phone box removals, BT introduced its Adopt a Kiosk scheme in 2008, in response to requests from local councils and residents.
It allows a community to retain their local red BT phone box, with the pay phone taken out, by buying the kiosk from the company for just £1.
More than 2,000 kiosks have been adopted in the UK.
The BT spokesperson said: “As an alternative to removal, we will continue to actively promote the Adopt a Kiosk scheme to all councils whilst being committed to maintaining the payphones that remain.”
In April 2012, BT began selling its surplus old red phone boxes for the first time in more than 25 years.
The company teamed up with kiosk and payphone specialist X2 Connect to sell K6 or Jubilee red phone boxes.
BT last sold red boxes direct to the public in the mid 1980’s when thousands of old K6s were sold off at public auctions as part of an extensive payphone modernisation programme.
Tim Luckhurst explained some of the history behind the classic phone box: "The iconic red phone box that we all know and love is the product of a competition that was run by the general post office in 1923.
"The winner was an architect called Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who designed that wonderful red telephone box.
"He was a really famous modernist architect, he also built Battersea power station and Liverpool Cathedral - so he wasn't just good at phone boxes!"
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