Fairy tale ending for Banbury phone box library

A general view of the new phone box library on South Bar. NNL-150907-165012001
A general view of the new phone box library on South Bar. NNL-150907-165012001

The story of Banbury’s new phone box library reaches a happy conclusion on Saturday, July 18 when the pint-sized book exchange is officially opened to residents with a special ceremony.

The library was installed last week after months of wrangling. Only in February the library was facing eviction until a deal was reached between Banbury Town Council and telecommunications company BT to install an additional phoneless kiosk at the site.

Engineers at Hawkins Steel Ltd have been hard at work installing shelving in the bright red box, in what is one of their more unusual contracts.

Eddy Eva, specialist fabrication supervisor, said: “We do some unusual stuff but this was a first for all of us to do anything with a phone box. It was unusual and enjoyable as well. It was nice to do something for the community.”

After the new kiosk was delivered, its engineers took just eight hours to create a black steel backing and weld it with shelving identical to that in a working phone box. One bright spark even want so far as to install a custom “library” sign to help avoid confusion.

A spokesman for Hawkins Steel Ltd, added: “We tried to replicate the original phone box and we are proud and pleased to be associated with it.

“We will be even more pleased when it is full of books and people are using it.”

The new phone box was donated by BT for just £1 as part of its Adopt-a-Kiosk scheme in an arrangement almost certainly the first of its is kind in the county.

A spokesperson for BT, said: “The situation in Banbury is unique because the original library phone box is a well-used pay phone.

“Working together with the council and the local community we are delighted a solution has been found that everyone is happy with.”

Cllr Kieron Mallon of Banbury Town Council, said added: “It has been a wonderful achievement to get this far. It has taken a lot of negotiation and patience by everyone but we are nearly there.

“A lot of people doubted if we would achieve our aims but right from the start we have worked toward a commonsense solution.

“Banbury Town Council has been proud to play our part in brokering the deal and liaising between the different organisations and people on a journey that has made national and international news.

“We would like to thank everybody who has helped us so far and look forward to the opening of Banbury’s phone box library.”

Residents are welcome to join representatives from Hawkins, Banbury Town Council and BT at the ceremony outside St John’s RC Church on South Bar Street from 3pm.