‘Perfect solution’ saves Banbury Phonebox Library

The phonebox library before, filled with books and newspapers.
The phonebox library before, filled with books and newspapers.

Banbury’s phonebox library has finally been saved after a unique agreement between the town council and BT.

The deal means the iconic red phone box on Oxford Road will go back to being a working pay phone, but a separate red kiosk will be put up soon without a phone and will serve as a phone box library.

The news which will delight many residents in the town who passionately fought against the eviction notice served by BT last month.

BT have also agreed to give Banbury another red kiosk which will be installed outside St John’s RC Church, alongside the existing box. It will be fitted with shelving and filled with books.

Councillor Kieron Mallon, leader of Banbury Town Council, said: “This is an extremely generous offer from BT, and this is a perfect solution. It is not unusual to find two red phone boxes side by side - and having a community library and a working pay phone in South Bar will be the best of both worlds. This is a positive outcome when all seemed lost.”

Banbury Town Council offered to adopt the phone box and BT agreed - but would not allow dual use. BT said the phone box could be a pay phone or a library but not both. The council decided that the pay phone was more important than the library and it looked as though the story would end there.

But the issue took a new turn this week when Mr Mallon and town council clerk Mark Recchia met with BT’s operations general manager Gareth Williams, who offered to donate the disused the red phone box, minus the phone. The town council would then install and maintain it.