One of Britain’s last AA telephone boxes saved

There is nothing John Bell likes more than a drive in the countryside, especially on the rural roads of Wales and it is there he came across AA Box 161 – a reminder of decades past when mobile phones and the internet were science fiction.

…AA Box 161 – a reminder of decades past…

…Box 161 and its two sister boxes mark a mobility revolution in post-war Wales…

The BBC writes:

The telephone boxes were a sanctuary for motorists in distress, where a single call meant help was on its way.

But of the hundreds across Britain just 21 remain – and now John’s in Powys has become a protected listed building.

Box 161 has stood on the A40 just outside Crickhowell for about 60 years, its yellow paint and famous cross-gable roof design a beacon for drivers in need of help.

“I’ve always had an interest in preserving buildings, so after seeing its strikingly unique design many years later, I went away to do some research,” said John, 64, who lives in nearby Brecon.

He remembered he had used it himself some 40 years ago, in the days when being a member of the AA came with a key to unlock the telephone booths.

He wrote to alert the Welsh historic monuments body, Cadw.

The AA Call Box

  • 1912: First AA call box is manufactured
  • 1920: AA members were given keys to the boxes for the first time
  • 1967 saw the last AA box produced
  • Box 1 was at Newingreen on London to Folkestone A20 at Hythe
  • Boxes were numbered up to 925 but only 862 were ever listed on AA maps
  • Just 21 remain

Source: AA

“I soon learnt there are only a handful of AA boxes left in their original locations across the country, so when I realised this one hadn’t been listed, I wrote to Cadw straight away,” he said.

His actions led to a review by Cadw, and now Box 161 has been granted Grade II-listed status.

It is one of three now protected by law in Wales.

A Cadw spokesman said: “AA Telephone Box 161 and its two sister boxes mark a mobility revolution in post-war Wales.

“We are thrilled to have been able to complete the set of three listed landmarks and would like to pass on our thanks to Mr Bell who alerted us to the location of Box 161.”

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