Villagers are ringing in Christmas with an advent calendar – in an old BT phone box.
The phone kiosk in Jackroyd Lane, Upper Hopton, was bought by the community for just £1 when BT wanted to remove it five years ago.
Since then the down-at a-heel phone box has been completely stripped down and restored after painstaking work by former science technician John Broscombe.
Over the last two years it has been turned into a mini exhibition space with all kinds of weird and wonderful features shoe-horned inside.
The latest display is an advent calendar and every morning John has trooped up the steep Hopton hill from his home to open another door.
Behind each one is a Christmas-themed scene counting down to Christmas Day when a special display will be unveiled.
John said: “It’s been a labour of love but everyone looks out for the phone box and the advent calendar has been excellent fun. Over the years it’s certainly kept me occupied.”
Scenes in the advent calendar include the three kings, a Christmas market, some pirate treasure, a knight in shining armour and the Flying Scotsman steam train.
Members of Upper Hopton Community Association come up with ideas and suggestions and donated bric-a-brac and unusual items often picked up for pennies in charity shops.
The kiosk is made of cast iron but the door, surprisingly, is wood. John replaced the damaged plastic windows with the original glazing and removed two dozen coats of paint with an angle grinder to strip it back to bare metal.
He then set about re-painting it in the traditional colour, known as ‘currant red’, and even replaced the word ‘Telephone’ with ‘Upper Hopton’ in the dome at the top matching the original typeface.
The result means the phone box is better than new and John takes great pride in his work.
Every few months the display inside is changed and his favourites have included a garden shed featuring a constantly pouring watering can and a Tour de France-themed exhibit featuring an up-ended bike which had to be cut into three to get it inside.
“It’s just great fun and I hope people enjoy it as much as I do,” said John.
The red phone box was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and became a British cultural icon.
From 1926 the kiosks were emblazoned with the royal crown, a symbol of the Government.
Red was the colour chosen to make them easily seen. The most widely used colour is known as ‘currant red’ and has its own British standard mark, BS381C-Red539.
The original red phone box, known as the K6, was replaced by a modern ‘see through’ version in 1985 by the newly-privatised BT. It had design flaws and never matched the original for function or popularity.
There are now more traditional phone boxes in central London for tourism purposes than there were when people needed them to make calls.