Mobile phone battery down? Want to make a phone call from one of the local red public phone boxes?
Don’t bother – you won’t find a phone in there, we are far more creative than that in Brockley. You will be better off swapping a book or going to admire some local art in the red phone boxes two blocks from each other on Lewisham Way.
Just over a year ago under the BT ‘Adopt a Kiosk’ scheme, two listed phone boxes on Lewisham Way were saved and made free for use by the public. Brockley residents formed a group called Brockley Boxes to decide what to do with them. Although the scheme has been popular throughout the country, and phone boxes have been used for everything from pubs to housing defibrillators, these were the first phone boxes to be adopted in London.
Enthusiastic volunteer Sebastian Handley dived into sprucing up the phone box on the corner of Lewisham Way/Loampit Hill with Tyrwhitt Road and turned it into a lovingly tended micro library, installing shelves, adding a carpet and even a light. News of the Micro Library has spread far and wide, and it is now listed on Google Maps and Foursquare. When visiting, you are encouraged to take a book but to leave another book in its place.
When Sebastian moved area a couple of months ago he passed on his mantle to new volunteers to look after it. It now has a children’s section and continues to be well maintained and well used.
To mark its first 6 months of use, a special surprise will be revealed on 30th May. According to its Facebook page ‘it will be something interesting, useful, red, free (we won’t be giving phone boxes so you can leave your van at home) and a limited number of IT will be made. You’ll be able to take it home with you to remind you of the legendary – first London’s micro library.’
How cryptic and how exciting! See you in the queue!
The second phone box (near the Wickham Road/Lewisham Way junction) has been lovingly turned into an art gallery. South East London Arts Network (SELAN) is currently showing ‘Tate Brockley’, a collection of work on acetates, which were created by the visitors of the ‘Grand Bazzart’ workshop at the Tate Modern (run to promote World Mental Health Day 2013).
I don’t know of any plans for the next exhibition but I would love to hear about them if anybody has any information.
Although I pass this phone box a lot by car, it wasn’t until the cherry tree blossomed that I actually stopped to park and take a proper look. I’m so pleased I did.
The Brockley Boxes Facebook page has a great album of photographs called Before & After which shows the hard work which has gone into transforming both of these phone boxes from neglected dirty spaces into places of real community value and interest.
Here’s to the next 6 months of art, swapping books and yet more feel good factor in our special neighbourhood.