Peak District Village seeks Hambledon help in keeping red phone box

A small village on the edge of the Derbyshire Peak District has turned to Hambledon for help in keeping its traditional red telephone kiosk.

Villagers in Simmondley, near Glossop, contacted Hambledon Parish Council after reading about how it had succeeded in getting the red K6-type phone box outside the village shop and post office listed as Grade II by Historic England.

The council also objected to proposals by BT, back in 2008, to disconnect the box, arguing that it was the only one in the village and should be retained for emergency use.

The kiosk in Simmondley is on the village green and BT has proposed disconnecting it. In the day of mobile phones, few people use public call boxes anymore. Various attempts to secure its future met with no success, and so residents turned to Hambledon.

One wrote: “Our community group applied to Historic England for permission to list the kiosk as it is under threat of being decommissioned. However, we have been turned down. Would you be kind enough to share your application arguments for listing as clearly we have not put a very good case forward.”

Hambledon Parish councillor Stewart Payne, who was involved in making the application for listing, has been in touch with Simmondley and explained what case it put forward. Hambledon stressed the importance of location, pointing out that the kiosk was in a conservation area and a much-cherished village landscape in which the red phone box was an important component part.

After visiting the Hambledon kiosk, Historic England (then known as English Heritage) recommended to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport that it be designated as Grade II. This means the kiosk cannot be removed by BT, although it could still be disconnected at some time in the future.

The official Recommendation in 2010 read: “This telephone kiosk is situated in a picturesque landscape setting next to a pond and post office within a conservation area and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The kiosk undoubtedly contributes to the exceptional rural setting in which it stands”.

Not all of these criteria will apply to the kiosk at Simmondley. But Stewart has suggested several matters that could be put forward to help villagers fight to keep their kiosk.

And there is some good news: BT has agreed to postpone its consultation to remove the box until later in 2019 and the issue is being discussed by the local parish council. A Facebook page has been set up to spearhead a campaign to keep the kiosk in working condition and this will be delivered to BT when it reopens consultation.

  • Hambledon’s kiosk remains in working order to this day, although it no longer accepts coins. Emergency calls can be made free of charge and reverse charge calls can be made through the operator. A bank card is required for all other calls.

However, Busbridge Parish Council is in discussions with BT over the future of the red phone kiosk at the Hydestile Crossroads, a prominent landmark at the entrance to Hambledon (pictured below). Currently the council pays BT a contribution towards its continued maintenance as a working payphone. But very few calls have been made from the kiosk and it is likely that the council will end the agreement with BT and instead “adopt” the box and have it restored and repainted. The equipment will be removed but its light will remain connected and it may be used to house a defibrillator. A final decision will be made at the end of a statutory consultation period.

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Debbie Junod
Debbie Junod

I saw an old telephone box like this that had been turned into a library it was in Norfolk. People contributed books and you could take them and return them .. maybe we could do that with the one at the Hydestile crossroads

Stewart Payne
Stewart Payne

Thanks for the suggestion Debbie, and you are correct in that many red phone boxes have been decommissioned but retained for a variety of community uses, including a library. In this case however it is perhaps a bit of an isolated location for a book lending service. In any event, the decision rests with Busbridge Parish Council, as the box is outside the Hambledon parish boundary. It seems a defibrillator is the most likely future use, as and when the apparatus is removed. Thanks for the comment. Stewart