Ahead of the iconic red phone box turning 100 years of age, BT has revealed that nearly 50 of its kiosks – including one at Queen Street in Warrenpoint – are currently up for grabs across Northern Ireland.
Architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott designed the first incarnation of the famous red phone box for a competition in 1924.
In recent years, however, with 98% of the adult population now using a mobile phone, and significant improvements to mobile coverage, there has been a huge decline in the usage of payphones across the UK.
There are now around 1,100 remaining working payphones across Northern Ireland, around 150 of which are in traditional red kiosks.
Since BT introduced its Adopt a Kiosk programme, around 30 phone boxes have already been taken on by communities in Northern Ireland for just £1 each.
Across the UK, more than 7,200 have been adopted so far. The kiosks can be adopted by registered charities, community councils and local authorities.
Redundant phone boxes have been adopted and turned into a range of facilities over the years, from defibrillator units and libraries, to mini art galleries and local museums.
BT is continuing to review its remaining estate of payphones, removing those that are no longer being used, in line with rules set out by Ofcom. Ofcom revised its guidance last year on payphone removals, reflecting improvements made in mobile coverage and the number of calls made from individual payphones each year.
Michael Smy, Head of Street at BT, said: “With the vast majority of people now using mobile phones, and significant improvements to mobile coverage across the UK, we’ve continued to see a big drop in the number of calls made from payphones.
“That’s why we’re continuing to review our payphones estate, making sure we're prioritising the removal of those not being used, in line with Ofcom’s latest guidance.
“With the iconic red kiosk about to turn 100, it's a great opportunity to remind communities that would still like to retain their local kiosk to take it on for just £1 through our Adopt a Kiosk scheme. We’ve already seen some great kiosk conversions across the UK that have become valuable community assets.”