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The Thurlestone book exchange, located in an old telephone box in the village od Thurlestone, Devon. (Photograph by Steve Hickey / Alamy Stock Photo)

Britain’s Red Phone Booths Get Second Life

The United Kingdom’s signature red phone booths are still in demand, but not just for calls anymore.

In response to resident requests, British Telecommunications began selling the booths for £1 in 2008. At this point, more than 2,500 have been adopted.

In 2014, two London School of Economics innovators fashioned one booth into a free cellphone charging station on Tottenham Court Road.

The success of the solar-powered stall, visited about 80 times a day, led to funding for ten more across the English capital, and the inventors often receive queries from those around the globe who want to follow suit.

But technology isn’t the only way these booths reconnect with locals.

Some have been transformed into art galleries, coffee shops, defibrillator stations, and mini-libraries that operate on a take-one, leave-one policy and hold as many as 300 books.

Gloucester-based company English Phone Boxes can even fulfill custom requests, which include everything from mini-offices to pint-size bars.

This piece, written by Monika Joshi, appeared in the October 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine. Follow Monika on Twitter @TweeterMJ.

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