End of the line for phone boxes

The end is nigh for the phonebox

The end is nigh for the phonebox

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I, for one, am not surprised that up to 80 telephone boxes across Burnley, Pendle and Ribble Valley could be axed.

I can remember the days when only about one in three families had telephones in their homes and the payphone at the end of the street had nightly queues outside it.

I can also remember the rows both inside and outside some of those call boxes when those in the queue got frustrated with the wait for their turn.

I can remember the start of the decline when more and more people had home phones and fewer and fewer people traipsed to the end of the street to ring their relatives in far flung places like Rochdale or Bury.

In more recent times, clearly, the rise of the mobile phone has finally sounded the death knell on many more public phone booths, even in areas where there is little or no mobile signal.

More domestic phones and the rise of the mobile phone can be seen as the main reasons for telephone boxes reaching the end of the line.

But there is another big contributing factor to this demise.

As a cub and then a scout I was always encouraged to carry an “emergency” tuppence with me in case someone in distress needed to contact a relative.

Imagine my surprise the other day when a question popped up on one of my favourite television quiz shows relating to the minimum charge for a call from a BT phone box.

I guessed at 20p.

Nowhere near and the answer staggered me.

The actual cost: 60p.

Further investigation revealed that of that 60p, 40p is actually a connection fee.

Imagine how frustrated you’d be if, after coughing up the 40p connection charge, all you got was an answering machine.