They have survived wars, floods, hurricanes and the abuse of drunk people on nights out.
But classic red phone boxes are finally falling victim to the changing times, with BT planning to remove thousands of them from Britain’s streets over the next year.
The number of calls made from phone boxes has fallen by more than 80% in the last five years as the rise of mobile phones renders the modest red box – once an essential communication tool – obsolete.
In the last few weeks in Brighton and Hove phone boxes have been removed from Grand Avenue, while another has been lost at Lewes Road, with others to be removed in the coming months.
The kiosks are so fondly regarded that a number of them appear on Brighton and Hove Council’s list of historic buildings, including one in Dyke Road, and another in Bloomsbury Place.
BT has put a price tag of £1,950 for individuals looking to get hold of their own big red box while council's and communities can get hold of one for just £1 through BT's Adopt a Kiosk scheme.
In January Brighton and Hove City Council received planning applications to turn a number of the boxes into cafe kiosks at the entrance to Brighton’s Palace Pier and another pair next to the Pavilion gardens in New Road.
In a statement submitted with the plans, Kensington Gardens-based company Thinking Outside The Box said: “The iconic K6 red phone boxes are both a great piece of engineering and architecture.
“Our aim is to redefine their usage to suit the modern day need and requirements without compromising their external appearance on the street scene.”
Another pair of phone boxes in New Road, which were damaged and almost uprooted during the Great Storm in 1987, have also been granted planning permission to be turned into cafe kiosks in September last year.
Katherine Ainley, general manager for BT Payphones, said the company’s Adopt a Kiosk scheme had proven a great chance for individuals and communities to preserve a piece of the country’s history.
She said: “The most fantastic thing about the Adopt a Kiosk scheme has been how communities across the country have become involved.
“Red phone boxes have become a focal point for all sorts of activities of real value to the local community.
“It’s so gratifying to see our old rarely used boxes given a new lease of life.”