Lifesaving phoneboxes

With the rise in mobile phone use over recent years payphones have almost become obsolete. Across Britain there are lots of old red phoneboxes that no longer contain payphones, but are finding new leases of life.

The one below, near Blairgowrie in Perthshire, acts as an information point and book exchange.

Old phonebox near Blairgowrie, now being used as an information point and book exchange.

If you happen to live near an old phonebox that’s no longer needed as a payphone, you can apply to BT (British Telecom, who own the phoneboxes) and request adoption of the box. They’re particularly keen to hear from local people who have interesting ideas for new uses. Some of their phoneboxes have already been turned into art galleries, coffee outlets, shoe shine stands and greenhouses, as well as libraries and information kiosks.

In conjunction with the Community Heartbeat Trust, a number of communities across the UK have turned their local phoneboxes into mini medical centres by installing defibrillators inside them. Not only are the defibrillators easily accessible by anyone at any time, but they’re well protected in weatherproof locations.

One example can be found next to the Pier Cafe at Stronachlachar by Loch Katrine in the Trossachs.

Phonebox housing a defibrillator, next to a postbox and information board at Stronachlachar in Scotland.

Stronachlachar is quite an out of the way place, but it’s popular with walkers and visitors to the Trossachs National Park.

One of the disadvantages of suffering a cardiac arrest there would be the time it would take for an ambulance to arrive. To reach Stronachlachar by car requires a drive of several miles along a badly pot-holed road, and the nearest ambulance station is more than 20 miles away. Other ways of getting there are by boat up Loch Katrine, on foot across the hills, or by helicopter (there is an air ambulance service covering the Park, but the chances of a helicopter arriving very quickly are slim, I would reckon). In such circumstances, a defibrillator might just mean the difference between life and death.

There are more than 80 old red phoneboxes across the UK now housing defibrillators, some of which have already been used to save lives. Training is given to local volunteers
but since all defibrillators carry clear instructions for use, anyone can make use of them in an emergency.

Stronachlachar’s community defibrillator.


  1. What a clever idea! A great way to recycle old phone boxes. Nice to know they aren’t just for transporting time travellers or places for superheroes to change into their outfit!


  2. Brilliant ideas, and it’s good to know that there are people out there who are willing to keep these old boxes in order, and stocked with equipment or books. They are a symbol of British-ness and it would be sad to see them disappear from the countryside – like the old-fashioned fingerposts, I guess.


    1. So true, Jo, they are iconic pieces of British architecture and it’s great that they’re being recycled to keep them in good condition. I believe there’s a paint company that donates the right colour of free paint to anyone turning a phonebox into a defibrillator station. I love those old-fashioned fingerposts. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Adopting phone boxes is a great idea – it’s good to know that they are not going to be lost forever. I know all about that bumpy uneven road to Stronachlacher as I drove along it last summer! My mum and I enjoyed coffee in the Pier Cafe and then sat in the car and looked at the view over the loch (a very typical Scottish thing to do – admire the view from the car rather than the benches provided because it was a bit chilly despite being July).


    1. That road really needs some work, doesn’t it? I can easily imagine the cold air that kept you in your car at Loch Katrine, but I’m glad to hear you had a warming beverage in the Pier Cafe.


        1. I felt the same driving along there. Glad to hear the tea had some cake to help it down. Food has amazing medicinal qualities when taken with tea. As I sometimes say, ‘a little biscuit/cake/scone/chocolate for the throat.’


Have your say

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s