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London’s Red Telephone Box

The red telephone box has been a hallmark of London for many years. Once dotted around the capital city, their numbers have dwindled as there’s simply no need for them. Who doesn’t have a mobile phone these days? But in the past, before the mobile revolution, they were an indispensable part of London life. If you needed to call someone, you’d find your way to the nearest box, often queueing up as others waited in line to make a call.

The red telephone box now serves as much a tourist attraction as it does a working telephone. Today it’s estimated around 20,000 workable boxes remain in the UK, a fraction of its peak of 100,000 in the mid 1990s. And while the red telephone box appears to be a relic from the past, 5 million calls are still made from them annually, and there’s a regulatory obligation for their upkeep, particularly in areas where network coverage is patchy.

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