Year after year maths teacher Dave Price had seen the public phone box opposite his house in Tudor Street gradually falling into disrepair.
Aware that thousands of visitors to the National Eisteddfod last summer would be judging his home town on first appearances he finally decided enough was enough…
Having explained the predicament to BT’s ‘caretaker’ of red public phone boxes based in Liverpool he agreed to personally take on the task of giving it a makeover.
The job, which he fitted in around his part-time work and the weather, took a total of forty hours but he reckons the end result was well worth the effort.
“I’ve seen passersby taking pictures of it and young people staring at it as if it has landed from Mars!” Dave told the Chronicle.
Recalling how he came to ‘foster’ the kiosk, he said, “I’ve been living in the same house for 29 years and seen the state of the phone box gradually getting worse.
“BT used to paint it and maintain it but that stopped about ten years ago.
“With the National Eisteddfod coming to Abergavenny, I asked the person responsible for these boxes if BT could repair it before the end of July but he said that wouldn’t be possible so I agreed to do the work myself.
“A few days later a box arrived from BT with paints, brushes, a really detailed set of instructions and even a canvas to protect the surrounding pavement.
“My near neighbour Barbara Willis volunteered to help.
“I started by rubbing off all the old paint with a wire brush attached to an electric drill. After that we applied the undercoat, then the gloss - red outside, red and black inside with white on the ceiling. It took ages.
“Because we were putting in so much effort I asked BT if they could replace the broken windows. They not only agreed to that they also put four new ‘Telephone’ signs around the top, fixed the interior light and replaced the leather straps on the door.
“In the end the box looked brand new and it’s nice now to see people actually using the phone.
“I feel personally responsible for it, but so far there have been no problems. I think if people see something in a good state of repair they’re less inclined to vandalise it.”
BT were ‘extremely impressed’ with the quality of Dave’s paint work and have thanked him for the time and effort he put in.
But Dave’s response is simply that ‘with Abergavenny undergoing a major facelift in recent years I just wanted to do my bit!’.
Dave hasn’t officially adopted the phone box, but an increasing number of communities across the UK are doing just that.
A spokesperson for BT explained how the ‘Adopt a Kiosk’ scheme works.
"Many communities go one step further and ask if they can make an alternative use of their local red phone box. We’ve already transferred ownership of almost 4,000 red boxes and will continue to promote this scheme whilst being committed to maintaining the payphones that remain,” he said.
Across the UK there are currently 45,000 live public telephones, 8,000 live red public telephones and 3,900 adopted phone boxes.
Adopted kiosks UK-wide have been turned into everything from museums, coffee shops, book swaps and tourist information centres to vegetable swapping hubs and sandbag stores.
Adopting a box, with the pay phone removed, costs just £1.
“Often, BT phone boxes have been a part of a town or village for years, and many members of the community are keen to avoid simply having the box removed - leaving an empty space where it once stood.
"In recent months we’ve begun a nationwide consultation on the removal of many underused boxes. This has resulted in a further 670 expressions of interest in adopting our boxes to date."