A BT telephone box received a celebratory launch this week as it officially started its new life as an information centre.
The fully-restored iconic kiosk, in North Stoke, was surrounded by villagers, councillors, local organisations and members of the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) for the cutting of the ribbon on Tuesday.
Sold by BT to the Wiggonholt Association, an environmental charity, for just £1, the non-profit organisation set out on an 18-month journey to refurbish the telephone box and give it an entirely new purpose in the community.
Co-founder of the association and the main driving force behind the ambitious project, Janet Aidin, expressed ‘great relief’ at the launch party.
She said: “When I first thought it ought to be saved I had no idea how I would go about it and so I involved the Wiggonholt Association and they were right behind me.
“At the time I thought turning it into an information centre was such an obvious idea, I’m astonished that more people have not done it.”
Funded by the Sustainable Communities Fund (SCF) of the SDNPA, the kiosk received a coat of paint and glass panels to BT’s own specifications.
Joanna Glyde of SCF said: “A most welcome grant for £1,200 enabled the Association to commission a local studio to produce the graphics for the interior.”
The detailed map graphics of the area were produced by Trent Design and leaflets were provided by local business and SDNPA.
Before cutting the ribbon, deputy chairman of SDNPA, Norman Dingemans, said: “This is not our national park, this is your national park, we have been very successful in working in partnership with the community.”
Also, the chairman of the planning committee at SDNPA, Andrew Shaxson, assisted Mr Dingemans in the cutting of the ribbon.
Standing in for the late county councillor Frank Wilkinson, Pat Arculus said the project had been supported by Mr Wilkinson and he would have been thrilled to have seen it completed.
John Vigar, chairman of the Conservation Trust, which looks after the Church of St Mary the Virgin just metres down the road from the kiosk, provided refreshments at the 12th century church for the launch event. Mr Vigar said the information centre would draw in more tourists to the area.
“This will help our church tremendously.”
With the church, the Ghurka Suspension Bridge and stunning scenes of natural beauty in close proximity, North Stoke is the ideal location for the new information centre.
The kiosk is in North Stoke, five miles north of Arundel off the B2139.