Lavenham: Old red phone box becomes WiFi hotspot

Roy Whitworth (chair of parish council) is pictured at the phonebox in Lavenham which is now a wifi

Roy Whitworth (chair of parish council) is pictured at the phonebox in Lavenham which is now a wifi hotspot. - Credit: Archant

Although it is famed for being one of England’s finest medieval villages, the community of Lavenham is embracing modern technology to move the popular tourist destination firmly into the 21st Century.

The parish council has adopted one of the village’s familiar red phone boxes and converted it into a WiFi hot spot to coincide with the introduction of a mobile phone app for visitors.

Both innovations have been pioneered by the parish council as part of a campaign to improve the welcome that Lavenham gives to visitors.

Council chairman Roy Whitworth said: “We have two of the old BT red phone boxes and although they are not well used, we wanted to keep them.

“Since BT introduced the scheme where local communities could adopt a phone box for £1, a few in the area have already been given novel new uses such as a book exchange in nearby Preston St Mary, so we thought ours would make an ideal WiFi hub.”

Suffolk County Council provided a small grant to support the scheme. The WiFi signal can be picked up from around 20 metres either side of the phone box.

Meanwhile the app, which is free to download, includes an interactive map with pictures, text and an audio guide to 16 of Lavenham’s more interesting properties.

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It points out little known facts about the village including that Jane Taylor, the writer of children’s classic ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ lived in Lavenham and that the first Governors of Connecticut and Massachusetts both lived in what was the Old Grammar School – which was later attended by the painter John Constable.

All these facts and more are explained in detail in the app, which also provides direct links to Lavenham’s Tourist Information Centre and the lovelavenham.co.uk web site. The latter gives a complete up-to-date guide of village events and amenities.

Mr Whitworth added: “We introduced an audio tour of the village many years ago but the number of handsets is limited and they are rather cumbersome to use.

“The new app enables visitors to explore at their own pace and makes the whole thing much more interesting.”

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