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AA to hang up roadside phones

CALLING the AA from a purpose-built roadside telephones will soon become a thing of the past.

The AA is to phase out most of its 522 roadside phones because of lack of use. Only a handful of calls (less than 6,000 a year out of nearly 5,500,000) are made from roadside phones, with most people today favouring a mobile phone.

Twenty-one of the phones are housed within early wooden sentry boxes - eight of which are listed buildings - and will remain standing, with the phone removed. Some of the other 501 phones, mainly on trunk roads, will be taken over by other agencies, including the Highways Agency, Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament.

The first AA "sentry" box was erected in 1911, in Ashtead, near Leatherhead, Surrey. Early boxes were first intended as shelters for passing AA patrols.

Soon, the wooden boxes became available to members, who could phone the motoring organisation free of charge if their car had broken down. Kerry Richardson, AA director of road services, said: "The boom in mobile phones has made our roadside phones virtually redundant."

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