Red phone boxes are as quintessentially British as fish and chips or a cup of tea but sadly many are not making money since the advent of mobile phones.
Plenty of the old fashioned boxes feature in Chester’s historic centre and are much loved by residents and tourists alike.
And it would surely be a sad day if they were to disappear but across the country thousands have already been dumped on the great scrap heap in the sky.
However, there are glimmers of hope.
Thanks to imaginative thinking some are being revived as libraries or even mobile phone charging stations. And here in Chester, BT is thinking ‘outside the box’ to give them a future by applying to convert more of them into combined payphone and ATM cash machines, just like the existing one in Bridge Street.
Planning applications along those lines have been lodged for the red box fronting 33 Eastgate Street, outside Nat West bank and the more modern versions in Foregate Street and outside Newgate House, Pepper Street.
BT says in an accompanying document: “The conversion of the existing kiosk places the payphone and proposed ATM on the outside of the proposed kiosk. The site has been identified within an area which has a high demand for ATM facilities.”
And the telecommunications giant says the introduction of an ATM machine ‘will help to encourage people to withdraw cash to use within the surrounding area thereby supporting local businesses’.
BT explains that it has a large upgraded estate of these dual use kiosks which have been deployed nationally with approval by the police and local authorities in these respective locations.
The document adds: ‘BT has worked with the police across the country to ensure that the kiosk and design is in keeping and that safety and security is a key part of that design. BT has experienced very low crime issues with the upgraded kiosks and has continued to work with the police.
“Our expertise in producing robust products to cope with extremities of weather and usage enables us to guarantee the product will still look good for many years to come.”
BT says access for users of either the ATM or payphone will be improved by placing the facilities at a height that is helpful for both the able bodied and people with disabilities.