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London's phone boxes are 80 years old! Here are five alternative uses for them

Isabelle Aron

London's phone boxes have officially reached the ripe old age of 80 years old. Those iconic red boxes have seen a lot in their time, but thanks to the invention of the smartphone, they're now mostly used as, er, public toilets, or a dumping ground for all those sex cards. But it's not all piss and sex – now that nobody's using London's phone boxes to call people, some folks have taken it upon themselves to give them a new lease of life. Here are five alternative uses for London's phone boxes.

1. A tiny office


A photo posted by tomchitty (@tomchitty) on

Not one for the claustrophobic, but if you're in need of wifi access and can't face buying yet another coffee, you can now set up shop in one of Pod Works' teeny tiny offices. They're all equipped with internet access, a 25-inch screen, scanning and printing facilities and a phone. 

2. A salad bar


A photo posted by Spier's Salads (@spierssalads) on

An old phone box might not be your first thought if you're in the market for a wholesome, healthy lunch, but that's exactly what you'll find in Bloomsbury Square. Spier's Salads set up shop last summer and offers a selection of five salads every day.

3. A micro library

This mini library was set up in 2014 by Sebastian Handley, who bought the old phone box in Lewisham for a mere £1. It runs on the premise that anyone can take a book if they donate one to replace it, so that supplies never run low. The library is even registered as a place of interest on Google Maps, so it's kind of a big deal.

4. A coffee shop


A photo posted by [♥️] (@principessamy) on

Hampstead may not be short on coffee shops, but there's always room for one more, especially one as small as this. Umar Khalid and Alona Guerra set up a coffee shop in a disused phone box on Hampstead High Street earlier this year, serving up coffee, tea, hot chocolate, pies, pasties, cakes, croissants and muffins. They had a slight licensing issue (in that they didn't have one), so had to shut up shop temporarily, but they're now up and running again.

5. A phone-charging station


A photo posted by Lauren Waterman (@laurenmwaterman) on

Smartphones may have rendered London's phone boxes obsolete, but that was before someone came up with the bright idea for them to work together by transforming an old phone box into a solar-powered mobile phone charging box. Nice.

Photo: James Beard

In other news, the world's best pizza restaurant is coming to London

And a gorilla escaped at London Zoo


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