Boxing clever as village’s new library used to be a phone box

Alison Bartram has a read in the new community library, in a telephone booth, at the village of Booth, near Luddenden.
Alison Bartram has a read in the new community library, in a telephone booth, at the village of Booth, near Luddenden.

A community has written a new page by transforming a disused phone box into a library - thought to be the first of its kind in Calderdale.

Residents in the close-knit hamlet of Booth decided they wanted to make use of the red kiosk after it was taken out of service a few years ago.

Now it has gone from being a “chatter box” to a compact lending library filled with books and DVDs for the community to enjoy.

The idea was first mooted by resident Alison Bartram, who owns Heart Gallery in Market Street, Hebden Bridge.

She said: “There is a strong community spirit within Booth village and the decision to turn a telephone box into a library was very much a joint decision after a seed was planted by myself at one of our Neighbourhood Watch meetings last year.

“I had previously done some research, saw that it was possible and thought it was a fantastic idea for our community.

“We have got a lot of young people in the village now and we have a real mixture of books. The children see it as a novelty.

“Getting them out and about in the village is not a problem and now we have the added bonus of walking with them to the library to choose a book.”

After the idea gained momentum last year, a resident who works for Calderdale Council helped set the wheels in motion for the village to buy and kit out the phone box.

Tony Mallinson - a “chippie” who lives in Booth - spent a weekend installing his purpose-built shelving after tiling and grouting the floor.

Fellow resident Andy McKerlie cleaned and painted the box and, as one of the two keyholders, he locks the kiosk at 8pm every evening as his cottage is nearest the “library”.

Each morning the kiosk is unlocked again by fellow keyholder Jeff Brown, who then leaves for work from the nearby bus stop.

Alison said: “People bring books they don’t read any more and borrow others. We have a good Neighbourhood Watch team and we hope people will not abuse it.”