Forest’s smallest visitor information centre celebrates its first birthday

Published Wednesday 23 May 2012

One year on the New Forest’s most unusual visitor information centre is celebrating its first birthday.

An iconic BT telephone box was last year transformed by the local community after Lyndhurst Parish Council adopted it as part of the UK-wide ‘adopt a kiosk’ scheme for £1.

With help from the New Forest National Park Authority they installed information and local history panels, a map for walkers and swap shop for books, DVDs and local produce. The village pub (New Forest Inn) even donated a dog bowl. It also has a notice board advertising everything from film nights to church services and a donations box.

Jim Mitchell, Interpretation Officer at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The community has worked really hard and it’s good to see it paying off. They continue to dedicate their own time towards this project that not only helps the whole community but also passers-by and walkers.

‘It was great to be part of this and it’s good to hear about people using the kiosk and learning about this special area of the National Park. The kiosk is in the street that was almost certainly the birthplace of ‘Brusher’ Mills, the New Forest’s famous snake catcher.’

Emery Down resident Peter Power was one of the driving forces behind the project. He said: ‘It has been a great first year - the kiosk and a large display of local history have proved to be very popular.

‘We have also been overwhelmed by people’s generosity making donations. In the first 12 months we have received over £350 which has helped purchase banners, light bulbs and much more for the nearby village church.

‘We have received so much positive feedback in our visitor’s book from people travelling from as far away as Australia.’

Visitor comments:

‘Amazing, we heard about these kiosks on the BBC Radio 4 programme “the Archers” but we didn’t realise they actually existed. It’s a great idea in a wonderful area.’

‘Thank you for taking the trouble to create this wonderful and very British facility. We bought a couple of books and we donated £10 to help keep up the good work.’

‘After getting lost many times on my first walk around the New Forest finding this information box cheered me up no end, what a wonderful idea.’

‘Villagers are even using it now to get their papers delivered!’

The telephone box is on the Lyndhurst Parish walk, a 13.5km trail that takes in Lyndhurst village centre, Bolton’s Bench and the Forest.

Part of this track from Silver Street to Blackwater has recently been upgraded thanks to grants from the New Forest National Park Authority’s Access Forum and Hampshire County Council’s Access Forum with help from the Forestry Commission. This will now provide an alternative route for walkers to Mill Lane away from the busy road.

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Notes to Editors:

Phone Box Facts:

  • The famous Gilbert Scott designed K6 or Jubilee kiosk was launched in 1936 to celebrate King George V’s silver jubilee
  • By the 1960s almost 70,000 kiosks could be found across the countryside, playing a significant part in our national heritage
  • With the advent of mobile phones, people have been using kiosks less and less
  • Where communities do not need their payphone service anymore but want to protect the kiosk for heritage reasons, local communities can apply to BT to take ownership of the kiosk, minus the payphone itself, ensuring it will remain in situ for generations to come

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Media Contact:
Karen Evans-McDaid, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650
Email: karen.evans-mcdaid@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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