The restored AA box that now needs a friend – or several

Just a small job - the wall needs repairing

By Betsy Everett

With the goldenrod in full bloom, complementing the bright yellow paint of its recent facelift, the AA sentry box at Aysgarth is looking at its summer best.

Leyburn resident and campaigner, Sheila Simms, who drew the attention of planners to the dilapidated state of the listed structure in the spring, is delighted at its restoration.

The wooden panel at the back, invaded with ivy, has been replaced, the rotting floor and door sill restored, and the whole box repainted in the iconic black and yellow which was – pre mobile ’phone days – such a welcome sight for stranded motorists.
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Happy again – roadside rescuer Sheila Simms

“It has been looking lovely lately with yellow and white flowers alongside the purple knapweed, and now the lay-bys have been cleared the box and the plants really stand out,” says Sheila, 73, who tends the small gardens every week.

But her success in bringing the plight of the box to the attention of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, which has oversight of listed buildings in the dales, is not the end of the saga.

Numbers in need of repair

She would like to establish a “Friends of the AA Box” group to involve more people who appreciate it and who have shown such an interest since she brought it to public attention.

“There appears to be a lot of affection for the box locally,” says Sheila. “It could do with some help from a drystone waller, as the wall at the corner of the left-hand bed keeps collapsing. I know someone offered to paint it, but that was taken care of by the AA.  Also, the identifying number (442) is peeling away. I tried sticking it back with super glue but it didn’t work. Advice on what to do would be helpful.”

It would also be good, she thinks, to have someone other than herself keeping a watchful eye on it, as for many years volunteers Marjorie Workman and Peter Percival from near Darlington, used to do.

“I won’t be able to do it forever and it would be good to know that others who value it could have a hand in its upkeep,” says Sheila.

Sheila can be contacted by