End of the line for many payphone kiosks in Derbyshire's towns and villages

Phone boxes were a familiar sight on the street corners of Derbyshire for many years until mobiles came along…

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 2:40 pm
The traditional red phone box on Neale Bank, Brimington, in 1994 (photo supplied by Philip Cousins)
The traditional red phone box on Neale Bank, Brimington, in 1994 (photo supplied by Philip Cousins)

Now you would be hard pressed to find a kiosk in some villages and town suburbs.

Communications company BT said there are 22 payphone kiosks in Chesterfield, four in Matlock including Matlock Bath and one in Bolsover. These include traditional red boxes and the more modern glass structures.

A BT spokesman said: “With the vast majority of people now using mobile phones, it’s led to a huge drop in the number of calls made from payphones. At the same time, mobile coverage has improved significantly in recent years due to investment in masts and continued efforts from EE around building mobile coverage.” 

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Phone kiosk on Heywood Street, fronting High Street, Brimington was removed in November 2020 (photo contributed by Philip Cousins).

The company’s reponse follows an online blog in the Brimington and Tapton Local History Group which states that all public call boxes in that area have been removed.

Philip Cousins wrote in his blog: “Mobile telephone use has resulted in the removal of our last remaining public telephone boxes. The village centre telephone box on Heywood Street, near its junction with High Street, was removed at the end of November 2020.

“For many years the village centre box was situated across the road, near the post office and was of a much more traditional ‘red box’ Gilbert Scott design, used throughout the country. There was another call-box situated adjacent to the bus lay-by opposite the Ark Tavern – this went some years ago.

“We think that all other call boxes in our area have also been removed. These were at Tapton (on Brimington Road, near the junction with Balmoak Lane), on Neale Bank (near the shops) and at Brooke Drive’s junction with Manor Road. We think these were also removed during 2020, but that the one on Neale Bank went some years earlier. And does anyone remember a call box situated in New Brimington? Another box now removed was on Station Road, near the park.”

Philip writes that a telegraph office was first recorded in the village (at the post office) in an 1870 directory.

Under a BT initiative where kiosks can be adopted after payphones have been removed, a box in North Parade, Matlock Bath, now houses a defibrillator.

Communities can adopt a kiosk if they are a recognised public body, such as a parish council, community council or town council.

Boxes can also be adopted by registered charities, or by individuals who have a payphone on their own land. BT will continue to provide electricity (if already in place) to power the light for adopted phone boxes, free of charge. Where electricity is available, adopted red kiosks are increasingly being used to house defibrillators, which is a potentially life-saving conversion. BT will also consider adoption requests to house defibrillators in more modern boxes.

The spokesman said: “We’re not currently consulting on any payphone removals in the area. However, communities can check if their local red phone box is available for adoption through our Adopt a Kiosk scheme. For details visit bt.com/adopt.”