What’s happened to our telephone boxes? They’ve all gone. But has anyone really missed them?
One thing that has dramatically changed in the last 30 years or so is our ability to communicate with each other. The use of the mobile telephone, with its access to the internet, has revolutionised the way we buy things and keep in touch with each other. Who would have thought this possible twenty or thirty years ago?
Mobile telephone use has resulted in the removal of our last remaining public telephone boxes. As we remark in our Miscellany for 2020 (number 13); the village centre telephone box on Heywood Street, near its junction with High Street, was removed at the end of November 2020.
For many years the village centre box was situated across the road, near the post office and was of a much more traditional ‘red box’ Gilbert Scott design, used throughout the country. There was another call-box situated adjacent to the bus lay-by opposite the Ark Tavern – this went some years ago.
We think that all other call boxes in our area have also been removed. These were at Tapton (on Brimington Road, near the junction with Balmoak Lane), on Neale Bank (near the shops) and at Brooke Drive’s junction with Manor Road. We think these were also removed during 2020, but that the one on Neale Bank went some years earlier. And does anyone remember a call box situated in New Brimington? Another box now removed was on Station Road, near the park (we missed this off our Miscellany list!)
We are not sure when call-boxes first appeared in the village (or telephones for that matter). But a telegraph office is first recorded in the village (at the post office) in an 1870 directory. The Post Office had been given the monopoly of the telegraph service in January of that year. But it wasn’t until 1912 that the Post Office acquired control, from the National Telephone Company (NTC), of the country’s telephone system. (The NTC had itself been formed out of an amalgamation of three separate companies in 1889). 1981 saw the Telecommunications Act, when the Post Office and British Telecom began operating as separate organisations. The latter was privatised in 1984.
Now, not just queuing at telephone boxes (remember that?) has gone, but the once familiar sight of the boxes themselves has largely disappeared – gone altogether in the Brimington and Tapton area.