Ringing endorsement for phone box restoration

A HYDE man can rightly look out of his window at the pristine phone box just yards away and say, ‘I did that.’

But to Keith Iball, sprucing up the famous Tejrjwne kiosk was just another job.The Gee Cross phone box, whose strange lettering even has BT confused, was earmarked for removal as it was not being used.

But after locals rallied to get it adopted and won approval to install a defibrillator, Keith took it upon himself to repaint it and replace faded and misted Perspex with new toughened glass.

Even though it did mean a surprise over how much there was to do.

“I live right opposite the phone box and have a post box in my wall,” said the 69-year-old, who describes himself as a semi-retired joiner.

“In the dim and distant past, our house used to be the local shop and post office. We’ve been here for 30 years and I’ve always painted the post box to keep it looking nice.

“Then interest in the phone box started – mainly because of the lettering – and after it was earmarked for removal, the locals got together and saved it.

“I got involved and said I’d give it a coat of paint.”

Like many jobs, though, it turned out to be more work than met the eye – especially when it came to transforming the panels – all 72 of them.

“I took the paint off then put on an undercoat, primer and gloss,” Keith added about the paint job, that left the phone box looking like new.

“But I also did the work to replace the panels as the Perspex had become misted and faded.

“All that went and I rubbed and cleaned everything down. The Perspex was easy enough to remove as it had been put in with some sort of double-sided tape.“But the glass that had been in before it had been installed using putty, which had gone rock hard and had been painted over.

“So I had to dig all that out, which seemed almost impossible at times, and make sure the areas were spotless before installing the new panels, that alone took about three days.

“However, there were 72 of them. I didn’t know a phone box had so many but it’s 48 little panels and 24 bigger ones.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be a 10 minute job

“In all, it took five or six days to do but in my line of work with what’s going on at the moment, I’m not working as people don’t want me in their houses so I said I’d do it.

“I just cracked on and did it – I even put the gold crowns back on and it is almost ready to have a defibrillator fitted.”

Now the phone box, which has been adopted with the help of the Community Heartbeat Trust, looks ready to go, talk has turned to the next stage.

However, it is not just a case of putting a defibrillator in and away they go.

“The group also wants to install holders to house literature about walks in the area,” said Keith, who lives on Higham Lane.

“So they have to be put in, then a backboard will need to be added to put the defibrillator on.

“But before any of that, we need to make sure there’s the charge to have one and then it’ll be a case of sorting out the wiring for it.

“The Trust is sending up one of its fitters to meet and check over whether everything is in place or more will need to be done before the defibrillator is installed.

“Until then, it’s pointless even putting a backboard in.

“But all that was just another job to me, nothing special. It just keeps things looking as they should do really, which looks good for the area.

“Losing the phone box would’ve been a huge blow.”

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