It was a gift to the people of Barga in October of 2008 (article here) from retired fish and chip shop owner Mauro Cecchini – who’s family were originally from Barga but who has been living and working in Edinburgh Scotland for many years but over the past six years the pristine antique K6 cast iron telephone box that has been standing on the bridge between old and new Barga has been under constant attack.
Technicians from the comune again and again have replaced the broken glass panes in the side of the box but unfortunately nothing could be done to repair the telephone itself – the handset long gone, removed by person or persons unknown.
There was some skepticism when the box first appeared on the bridge but since then it has been accepted as a part of the local landscape and has been photographed many times by visitors to Barga and locals alike. To see it reduced to a vandalised box does nothing for the image of the city or society in general here.
Back in September 2013 we published an article (here) about the box saying that it has just been renovated (again), repainted (again) and once again it is looking good but also asking, how long would it last this time ?
The answer came swifly – just a bare few weeks. The glass and perspex panels have once more been pushed in or smashed and the box is looking decidedly dingy, grubby and downright unloved once again.
The iconic cast iron red painted box with its distinctive small window design, crown and telephone panel, was the idea of noted architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. He was commissioned to design the box in order to commemorate George V’s Silver Jubilee Year, which heralded a policy to install the so called ‘jubilee kiosks’ into every town or village with a post office. The design, which built upon various prototypes from the 1920s became known as the ‘K6’ and soon became a welcome sight at the roadside across the United Kingdom – more information about the K6 design here
In these times of economic hardship it is no longer possible or feasible to spend money, time and resources in constantly repairing and restoring this telephone box.
Maybe now’s the time to start thinking in a totally different direction.
It would appear that the main culprits for this constant vandalism could well be some of the students from the local schools who use the area by the bridge as they wait for their buses to take them home.
Maybe just maybe, part of the problem is that for some of them this British telephone box is perceived as an intruder into their Tuscan landscape and in the days of smartphones and constant internet connection, is also viewed as a complete anomaly. Added to which, right from the first day that it is installed back in 2008, the door has been rigourously change shut, making entry into the box absolutely impossible.
Please pardon the pun, but now maybe it is time to start to think “outside of the box” before it turns into a mausoleum for the analogue age
So let’s run one or two ideas past you and see between us what we can come up with.
First of all the box will have to be renovated once again and this time, the door could be left open.
A small book exchange
It would cost very little to install some shelves inside the box and fill them with books which can be readily exchanged.
A small green house
How about making use of all that glass and turning it into a small greenhouse for flowers or even a medium sized lemon tree. There is after all the water source not 2 metres from the box.
An information point
The title says it all,
A direct telephone line to the Befana
Reinstall the telephone and have a direct line to the Befana.
An ATM cash machine
Probably not such a practical idea but then again why not?
A free Wi-Fi point for locals and visitors to Barga alike.