Iconic red telephone boxes, commonplace across the UK for decades, are being offered to local authories for just £1.

While the increased popularity and coverage of mobile phones has made traditional phone boxes almost entirely redundant, with BT announcing that 4,000 phone boxes are up for grabs.

However, there are a number of useful ways they can be refurbished to serve the communities they’re in.

Though they are now rarely used for their intended purpose, red phone boxes have been repurposed as book exchanges, art galleries, museums and more. They’re often also used as storage for life saving defibrillator units.

Since 2008, more than 6,600 phone boxes have been taken on by communities for just £1 each through the Adopt a Kiosk programme.

‘Adopt a Kiosk’

Now a new scheme, Adopt a Kiosk, will give local councils the opportunity to pick up the phone boxes for £1 each.

BT worker, James Browne, said: “We’re currently rationalising our payphone estate to make it fit for the future, and the Adopt a Kiosk scheme makes it possible for local communities across the UK to retain their local phone box with a refreshed purpose for the community.”

As well as miniature art galleries and book exchanges, repurposing the booths to hold defibrillator units has proven to be popular in many parts of the UK.

While many of the booths are being repurposed to provide other services, BT has also upgraded many existing phone boxes to offer more up to date services. These so-called ‘Street Hubs’ offer free ultrafast broadband, USB charging stations and environmental monitoring.

While members of the public aren’t able to purchase the booths through the Adopt a Kiosk Scheme, they can be purchased through BT’s supplier, X2 Connect.

‘A new lease of life’

Speaking to the Press Association, National Secretary of the Community Heartbeat Trust, a charity which has helped install around 800 of these defibrillator units, Martin Fagan, said: “BT’s phone box kiosks are iconic British structures, and repurposing for this life-saving use has given them a new lease of life.

“Placing the equipment in the heart of a community is important to save on time. Kiosks are historically at the centre of the community, and thus great locations for defibrillators.”