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Avoncroft Calling: celebrating the National Telephone Kiosk Collection

Sunday 12th April 2015

K6 telephone kiosks at Avoncroft Museum
Avoncroft Museum logo

The iconic red “K6” telephone kiosk was 80 years old in 2015 and to mark the occasion, Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire held “Avoncroft Calling”, a special event on Sunday 12th April. With lots of hands on activities, demonstrations and a few surprises, the Museum enjoyed celebrating the UK’s telephone heritage.

Avoncroft Museum is well-known for rescuing and restoring endangered buildings, but not everyone knows that the Museum is also home to the UK’s National Telephone Kiosk Collection, which includes 32 telephone boxes dating from the 1920s to the 1990s.

On Sunday 12th April, visitors were encouraged to visit the Museum to find out more about the collection and join in a day of activities and demonstrations with a telephone theme.

With the popularity of mobile phones, many people haven’t set foot in a telephone kiosk for years and some people under the age of 30 have never used a phone with a dial at all. But at Avoncroft visitors were able to explore their collection of working telephone kiosks and exchanges dating from the 1920s to the 1990s, make calls between the phone boxes and find out whether blue police boxes really are bigger on the inside than the outside.

For those keen to find out other activities included making your own telephone and learning how to crack codes. Visitors were also able to browse Telecoms Heritage Group stalls and exhibits in the New Guesten Hall. Eve Buzby himself paid a visit!

The University of Salford contribution

We were proud to be part of the day and brought along the following exhibits from our collection:

GPO 700 series telephones
  • Communicating with semaphore flags
  • Sending messages using a working Morse telegraph
  • A working model of the first telegraph developed by Cooke and Wheatstone
  • Collection of telephones - all wired up and working
  • Mobile phones - from bricks to smartphones
  • Make your own cryptography wheel and send secret messages
  • Some of our Buzby memorabilia
  • A unique collection of knitted telephone boxes!

A little bit of background about Avoncroft Museum

In 1994 the Museum acquired the first of its 32 telephone kiosks, and now includes every type used from the 1920s to the present day and tells the history of the public telephone service in the UK. There are also four working exchanges, all looked after by a team of specialist volunteers, and examples of the famous AA and RAC boxes.

Avoncroft Museum was awarded Destination Worcestershire’s “Best Tourism Experience” in 2014 and holds TripAdvisor “Certificates of Excellence” for 2013 and 2014. The Museum has also recently received a Groupon “Local Star” for exceptional levels of visitor satisfaction.

The Museum has a lively programme of events, including traditional rural celebrations, family fun days and historical re-enactments. There is a large, free car park, an award-winning Tea Room for drinks, light lunches and delicious afternoon teas and a Museum Shop with a great range of gifts, books, cards and souvenirs.

More details can be obtained from the Avoncroft Museum website