A good call as campaigners save iconic phone box

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PEOPLE power has stopped an iconic piece of Havant town centre being left to decay.

The red telephone box has been a fixture in West Street since the Second World War and, together with St Faith’s Church, has been featured in many postcards.

But the booth, designed by architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, has fallen into ruin in recent years, with peeling paint and missing panels.

It has been so underused that the box became the occasional nest for hedgehogs from the nearby churchyard.

Local people wrote to Havant’s MP David Willetts to complain and the newly-formed Havant Civic Society also contacted the council’s heritage officer to get something done.

Within a matter of days, BT replaced the panels and has committed to repainting the box.

In his letter to BT’s chief executive Ian Livingston, Mr Willetts said: ‘Local people would be sad to see it ever removed and would welcome some attention given to its condition now in order for the telephone box to remain alongside our local church and next to the very old Royal Mail post box.

‘As one constituent put it to me, this is an “iconic trilogy” which we should never lose.’

Paul McDonald, who takes care of payphones at BT, said: ‘We visited the phone box on March 1 to replace the missing glass.

‘We’ve no plans to remove the box.

‘So we’ve put it on our painting schedule for this year. We usually paint our phone boxes between May and October.’

Tim Dawes, from the civic society, applauded the swift actions of BT, but stressed that the box is a listed building and needed regular maintenance which BT was obliged to carry out.

He said: ‘It really was in a bad state.

‘It’s very much a feature of the town.

‘Every time you see a postcard of Havant, it’s there with the beautiful church and churchyard.’

Havant’s box, which is a Kiosk Number Six model, was among a batch designed in 1935 to commemorate the silver jubilee of King George V.

This model was the first to be used extensively outside London. Havant’s booth is still connected to the network.