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Landmark Red Payphones in UK Make Pricey Geek Collectibles

I can't say I really miss the pay phones in the US, but when I read that cell phone use is making the red phone booths in Britain obsolete, I got a little melancholic. I mean, the booths are not just cute places to have a conversation or have your photo taken— they're landmarks. Did you know the signature telephone box was the result of a competition in 1924 to design a kiosk that would be acceptable to the London Metropolitan Boroughs? In 1925 the winning design was reproduced 1,000 times, but by 1980 there were 73,000 of the design throughout the UK. That's a piece of geeky history right there! Here's more:

Britain has more cellphones than people, so the use of pay phones has dropped by half in the past three years, according to British Telephone. BT has removed about 30,000, or a third of all pay phones, from the streets since 2002. Of the remaining 61,700 phone booths, 12,700 are the old red kiosks made of wood or cast iron that are so identifiably British.

The old booths are being bought up for $5,000 to $10,000, depending on the make, year and condition. Apparently regular Joe and Jane Does and celebrities are placing bids for their own little booth. Talk about a vintage geek collectible!


Join The Conversation
Nyrina-Windu Nyrina-Windu 9 years
I don't think they should get rid of all of them. Actually I think they all should stay. I loved seeing those when I went to visit there. They are truly landmark. They remind you so much that you're in the UK.
raieven raieven 9 years
in like 10-20 yrs (after they've removed them all) they'll be a new wave of "bringing back the old" or "bringing back britishness" or something, and they'll put them back (costing thousands no less).
Segat1 Segat1 9 years
TBH the last time I saw one of these in England was in someone's garden. You NEVER see them in the street for use. BT the heartless muppets decided to replace them all with the yukky glass ones. Stupid stupid stupid.
The-City-Girl The-City-Girl 9 years
Yeah, I noticed that this is already happening all over the UK, with the exceptions of the heart of cities, and small outlying villages. Sometimes they've been replaced by the ugly plastic BT ones, blah, but now even those will probably go soon. But I definitely feel like they should at least keep them around tourist areas for posterity!
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
they are really cute and somewhat kitchy and well..if there's a way to own a piece of culture- then i don't see a problem with it. it's interesting to see how cell-phones really are overrunning technology.
jspeed jspeed 9 years
Oh, they better leave some up for posterity. They're such an icon of Britishness. I would use one to stand in and have a quiet chat on my cell phone without the street noise!
Performita Performita 9 years
by buss I meant bus, sorry :)
Performita Performita 9 years
we had a cafe bar here in Mostar called Piccadilly. The place was a replica of that typical London's two floor red buss. In front of that cafe there was the same telephone kiosk like on this photo. And the interior was exactly like in the buss, and there was a doll inside dressed like Bobby :D I miss that place, the disassembled it :(
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
I love the look of the red phone booths, I remember my first trip - I took a picture in a booth and called my mom.
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