The British Phone Box ‘Graveyard’ Hidden Just Minutes From Sussex

In the northern part of Sussex, nestled near a railroad track, lies a fascinating collection of British phone boxes that resemble a “graveyard.” These red phone boxes were once a common sight on street corners in the United Kingdom, renowned worldwide for their iconic presence.

However, with the advent of mobile phones in the 1980s and their continued dominance today, the use of landline phones has significantly declined.

According to SurreyLive, a local restoration company called Unicorn Restorations has taken action to revive the abandoned phone boxes in Merstham, creating the largest “telephone box graveyard” in the country. Over time, many of these boxes fell into disrepair due to neglect and corrosion. But now, the dedicated team at Unicorn Restorations has lovingly restored them to their former glory.

Located just outside of Redhill, the employees of Unicorn Restorations spend up to 30 hours meticulously stripping and repainting each vintage kiosk in the original red color specified by the General Post Office. They also replace the glass panels to ensure an authentic look for the refurbished phone boxes. Once the restoration process is complete, these revitalized phone boxes are made available for sale at various prices, ranging from under £4,000 to as high as £20,000. Older designs command a higher premium.

The collection includes three traditional designs: the K2, the K6, and the K8.

The K6, also known as THE red telephone box, was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1935 to commemorate King George V’s Silver Jubilee. With approximately 60,000 installations across the UK, the K6 has become the quintessential representation of a red phone box. The K2, introduced in 1926, is considered the original design of the phone box, while the K8, introduced in 1968 with a more futuristic look, symbolized the spirit of the 1960s. The K8 was the final red kiosk produced, and only a small number of them remain in use today.

Unicorn Restorations also offers interior reconstruction of these phone boxes and provides the option to personalize the dial center. This allows customers to use their current number with an old exchange or choose a memorable number from the past.

Their website proudly mentions their contribution to supplying landmarks across the UK, including famous locations like Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, The Tower of London, and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. They have also been involved in restoring numerous kiosks for organizations such as BT, The Corporation of London, and English Heritage.

Their craftsmanship has even been featured on the big screen, as they have provided period pieces for films and TV productions like Harry Potter, Paddington, and the John Lewis Christmas advertisements.

Although these iconic landmarks may no longer serve a practical purpose in today’s digital age, it is reassuring to know that Unicorn Restorations ensures their preservation.

In 2016, photographer Nicolas Ritter shared his experience visiting the phone box graveyard during his early days as an assistant. He described it as a rewarding experience, as the phone booths represent a significant part of British culture and provide a journey through the nation’s past.

Once upon a time, the British people held a special affection for these instantly recognizable, brightly colored boxes. By the 1980s, there were over 73,000 of them scattered throughout the country. Unfortunately, their numbers began to dwindle, and it is estimated that only 21,000 of them remain standing today.

Nevertheless, the work done by Unicorn Restorations clearly demonstrates that people in the United Kingdom still maintain a strong attachment to these traditional phone booths, despite their diminished usage in today’s world.

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