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Phone boxes find a haven from vandals

YOU CAN never find one when you want one and, even when you do, the chances are that it is out of order, has been vandalised or will swallow your money without putting your call through, writes Chris Mowbray.

Yet the humble telephone box is about to take its place alongside some of the nation's greatest architectural treasures.

British Telecom is opening the first national collection of kiosks at the Avoncroft Museum of Buildings in Bromsgrove, Hereford and Worcester, on 28 June.

The National Telephone Kiosk Collection, which has cost pounds 100,000 and spans nearly 80 years, has some of the rarest surviving boxes - all in perfect working order.

The kiosks have come from all over the country and one of the exchanges came from Essex while the other is a special mobile exchange which once worked all over the South-east.

'BT had been looking for some years for an appropriate site for such a collection and we were delighted when they selected Avoncroft,' Simon Penn, curator of the museum, said.

'We are very excited at the prospect of housing this unique collection because it provides a fascinating insight into the history of the structures and technology associated with telephones - together with a hint of nostalgia . . . they were always appearing in the Ealing comedy films. They also hold a lot of memories for people because they were used as meeting places where couples fell in love on their first date or arranged illicit liaisons.'

(Photograph omitted)