Banbury’s phone box library – saved from closure by public opinion – is now a popular feature on South Bar.
The phone box, outside St John’s RC Church, attracted national publicity when a local resident installed shelves and books. The idea was that passers-by would borrow the books and return them – and add new books to the collection.
The mini-library closed within weeks when BT was compelled to order the removal of the books on health and safety grounds after a phone box user complained.
But Banbury Town Council joined members of the public in protesting at the closure and the campaign reached national newspapers and TV.
The library was rescued after the council and BT came to a unique agreement. BT offered a second red kiosk to stand next to the existing box – and the council agreed to install it and maintain it. Banbury company Hawkins Steel volunteered to fit the new box with safe shelving and the kiosk was delivered to the firm’s premises in Thorpe Way in June for work to begin.
Now, after a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by representatives of the council, Hawkins Steel, BT and members of the public, the phone box library is open for business. Leader of Banbury Town Council Kieron Mallon said: “This is the perfect ending to a long-running saga. It is a positive outcome when all seemed lost. I’d like to thank everyone concerned for their efforts. It is a job well done.”