Felixstowe: Setback for bid to save iconic red phone box

Councillor Michael Sharman is trying to save the red telephone box at Bent Hill, Felixstowe.

Councillor Michael Sharman is trying to save the red telephone box at Bent Hill, Felixstowe. - Credit: Archant

Hopes of saving an iconic red phone box, which has been threatened with being thrown away, have been dealt a blow.

The box – one of only three left at Felixstowe – is to be removed from the top of the Pram Walk, on Bent Hill, to make way for a new entrance into the resort’s refurbished seafront gardens when the £2.76million project is eventually completed.

After a protest from town and district councillor Michael Sharman, the Seafront Gardens Project Board – which is masterminding the renovation of the nationally-important gardens – agreed the kiosk should be kept and found a new home, a more suitable location, in the gardens.

The board has now submitted a planning application for a new site – but town councillors are objecting and recommending refusal.

The town plans committee said placing the box on the clifftop in Hamilton Gardens, at the edge of a flower bed and close to the railings, was “anachronistic and non-contiguous”.

The committee also had concerns about the future maintenance of the phone box.

Mr Sharman said: “These red telephone boxes are iconic for many of us and we only have three – this one and those at Felixstowe Ferry and Adastral Close – remaining in Felixstowe.

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“In years to come young and old in our town may well wonder what the red telephone kiosks looked like and we will have to tell them we could have saved one but didn’t.

“I am impressed by the plans committee’s long words but I am disappointed at its decision, and can only hope Suffolk Coastal will support the relocation of this part of our heritage.”

Mr Sharman would like the town council, or perhaps a group such as The Felixstowe Society, to adopt the box after BT has removed the phone equipment.

It could then be suitable for a range of uses – some have been taken over by communities and preserved or even used as library or book exchanges or art galleries – with minimal upkeep requirements.