Historic red telephone boxes next to Southport Town Hall should be preserved says councillor

21st April 2021
Cllr Sir Ron Watson is calling for red telephone boxes outside Southport Town Hall to be saved

A councillor is calling for the two historic red telephone boxes next to Southport Town Hall to be preserved as part of the town’s heritage.

Town centre councillor Sir Ron Watson instead wants to see them being repaired and restored as a critical part of Britain’s great telecommunications history, as the iconic structure celebrates its centenary.

The first standard public telephone kiosk was introduced by the United Kingdom Post Office in 1921.

Created by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who also designed Liverpool Anglican Cathedral and Battersea Power Station, the red telephone box was in 2006 voted as one of Britain’s top 10 design icons alongside the Supermarine Spitfire, the Mini and the London tube map.

Cllr Sir Ron Watson will raise the issue at the full Sefton Council meeting this Thursday (22 April).

He has submitted a question which asks: “Is the Leader of the Council aware that the two iconic red telephone boxes outside Southport Town Hall are due to be sold by auction at the end of the month?

“Does he agree with me that these iconic structures should be refurbished, repainted and made secure as they form an important part of our heritage?

“Would he confirm that he will contact immediately those responsible for seeking to sell off this important historical asset and to investigate ways in which some element of Council funding perhaps through some of the amounts available from the old Southport Area Committee budgets form part of a financial package?”

He is hoping that support from his council colleagues could help to save the iconic structures.

Cllr Sir Ron Watson said: “I understand that there are what I hope are only tentative suggestions that these structures be removed but they really represent a significant part of our heritage and not to have them in place as an historical reminder of our communications past really would be a very great shame and would be regretted by very many people.

“Whilst I accept that there might be some marginal cost involved in removing the existing equipment and replacing the glass with material that is vandal proof, I think that they would need to be locked and secured.

“The fairly obvious point in addition to this is that they should be repainted in the red colour that has been a feature of street life for many years.

“There will be many people for whom ‘press button B’ will still resonate but it would also be helpful for the younger generation to be able to view what has been a critical part of telecommunications.

“I understand that these structures are currently being offered for sale but I think this should be stopped in the hope that voluntary bodies with an interest in preservation and our heritage could liaise with Sefton Council and the GPO owners to see if a joint co-operative scheme could be agreed.

“I very much hope that this concept will be taken onboard by the relevant people concerned and I would personally be prepared as a local councillor for the area to agree to a funding allocation from the very small amount of money over which we have some direct input in terms of spending even if the word for word criteria for such schemes were in any doubt.

“We are on the brink of an outstanding range of improvements to our town through the hard work of the Southport Town Deal Board and our Member of Parliament, Damien Moore MP, and the added touch that this would give to the area could also be regarded as giving added value.

“I would also make a plea at the same time to review what I consider to be an arbitrary decision to repaint the Town Hall in a cream colour rather than restore it as the local addition of our very own ‘White House’.

“Once again there is a small additional cost but if you take the amount that has been rumoured to be applicable and spread it out over a ten year period it works out at under £2 per week and for a council that spends as much as Sefton does an internal adjustment along the lines I have indicated really should be feasible if the will is present.”

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