By Betsy Everett
Red telephone boxes will turn pink in selected locations in the upper dales in a scheme agreed by BT Payphones, Councillor John Blackie, chairman of Hawes and High Abbotside parish council, informed members this week.
BT have supplied full refurbishment kits and volunteers will be sought to carry out the work at Lunds and Sedbusk with work already underway at Thoralby and Simonstone, interest expressed at Aysgarth, and the privately owned one at Gayle also due for a facelift.
“I might even paint the one at Lunds myself: I find painting very therapeutic and I look forward to seeing them all turn pink,” said Cllr Blackie.
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The pink paint, however, would only be an undercoat which has to be left on for a minimum of 24 hours before the traditional pillar-box red is applied as a final coat.
Councillor Blackie said that since raising the question of phone boxes under threat of closure in the upper dales last year, he had struck up “a really good friendship” with the “number one” BT Payphone official in Liverpool.
“He is very good, and keeps all our phone boxes in good working order. When I asked if people could paint their telephone boxes he said that would be fine. He said he would make sure we would get kits to do the job and sure enough six arrived, containing wire brushes, sandpaper, paint brushes, pink undercoat which has to be left on for 24 hours – that would wake up a few people in the dales – and that bright red paint that only they can do,” said Cllr Blackie.
He added that he kits came with “four pages of health and safety instructions which ends up with a warning that the lead content could be a threat to life. It can also apparently cause constipation and might be a threat to anyone of childbearing age,” he added.
Undeterred by that he now had the kits.
When the paint has dried, volunteers would be asked to check the acrylic panels in the doors, report any broken ones, and they would be replaced.
“The painting will probably take about a day and this helpful chap then sends someone round to replace any broken panes once we let him know how many there are. The phone boxes look like new,” he said.
Kits are available at the community office in Hawes.