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The Little Red Box

Story behind Britain’s telephone booths

The iconic red telephone kiosks sprawled across the Great Britain have been a historic symbol for close to a century now. Designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott as a result of a competition back in 1924, it underwent multiple revisions since then.

Presently, this legendary remnant of London can be spotted as a loved backdrop in millions of selfies, but the advent of smartphones has zeroed its utility. Resultantly, their population has seen a fatal drop from 92,000 in 2002 to mere 48,000 in 2016.

Though they haven’t been used in ages, these cute little red boxes boast London’s pop culture. Some, however, are seeking a makeover, thanks to their cult status. A multitude of entrepreneurs and communities are re-proposing a change in their avatar as book shops, coffee machines or even a tiny eatery.

Among the former inventers were Edward Ottewell and Steve Beeken. After adopting two empty and run-down kiosks and refurbishing them to sell sunglasses and hats, the duo decided to intensify their operation. They formed The Red Kiosk Company in an endeavor to adopt 500 such booths across the nation.

Kape Barako, an eminent Kiosk Café near Hampstead Heath, London’s ‘Central Park’, is an effort made by them to help Umar Khalid, thus making him and his café socially popular!

Today, you can grab a Spiers Salad at Central Bloomsberry Square, or even borrow a read from Lewisham Micro Library in Southeast London.

Inspired by the phenomena, Pod Works, too, began its joyride of converting these telephone boxes into something more useful. Their plan is to create mini work stations for travelers by setting up computers, printers, powerbank plugs and hot drinks machines in the now-compact sized red booths. Their idea is to restore these booths as an access to telecommunications, but by maintaining the technological evolution of this era.

Many such active and offbeat entrepreneurs are reviving the heritage of London with this restoration wave. Bar Works, an epic New York firm has been actively modulating the functioning of these kiosks, but by choosing to keep its quintessential characteristic- a landline telephone.

With such poignant use of these obsolete red booths, London is sure to become all the more heroic!

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