When is a phonebox not a phonebox? When it’s an information exchange!

The Information Exchange at Emery Down, New Forest

I remember student competitions to see how many people you can get in a phonebox, but this is something quite different!

Since I re-tweeted a couple of weeks ago a BBC News story about the new use that locals in Emery Down in the New Forest have found for their dis-used telephone box, I have had repeated hits searching for the “Emery Down Phonebox”.

So I thought, on a trip ‘home’ that I’d view this new phenomenon, and give it a post all of it’s own – because I think it’s a fantastic idea that other communities could copy!

The project to save, and use, a disused phone kiosk has involved the parish council (who bought it for £1 from BT) and National Park Authority. It is now stacked full of information, books to borrow and all sorts of things, and boasts it’s own website!

Alongside the tourist information maps, today we found a great selection of books to suit most tastes, some tomato chutney, duck eggs, fudge and tomato plants (swap or pay for in the honesty box), and I particularly liked the emergency box of plasters for passing walkers with blisters!

Just one suggestion for the organisers (and they’ve possibly already thought of this though I didn’t notice one), since the ‘phonebox’ is set slightly off the main route through the village, put a sign up on the junction at the top end of the lane, so people know there is information there to help them.

If you are visiting the New Forest, perhaps stuck in a traffic jam on the A35 from Christchurch to Lyndhurst, take a break, step aside, and find the phone box in Silver Street, Emery Down (on the back road to Minstead) – and praise the community spirit that made it happen, because I do!