There are almost 8,000 of these kiosks spread across the UK. The famous ‘K6’ design created by Sir George Gilbert Scott has gained almost symbolic status, and was recently voted the greatest British design of all time in a poll that included the Routemaster bus, the Mini Cooper and even the Union flag.
Under the Red Kiosk Company’s watch, the booths have been given a new lease of life, restored and repurposed as ‘microretail’ businesses. The first converted kiosk (a coffee stand within sight of the domes of Brighton Pavilion) opened for business in June last year, and demonstrated the potential of the idea by regularly turning over £750 a week within six weeks of opening.
“It’s one of those rare occasions where everybody’s happy,” says Eddie. “The leaseholders get a prime site with high footfall guaranteed, at great value for money. BT are happy that we’re taking the cost of upkeep off their hands, and the community gets to see a little part of the local scenery and heritage restored and put to good use.”
It stands to reason that many of the phone booths bought up by Red Kiosk Company are in these prime locations. When they were built, they needed to serve large volumes of people, and have high visibility – another reason for the traditional bright red colour scheme.
Locations secured in recent months include a spot on Hampstead High Street and a box in Camden, just minutes from the old market.
As well as giving the boxes a fresh lick of paint, the Company ensures that each is provided with its own power supply, fitted with secure locks and granted A1 retail consent. They will also work with leaseholders to explore their plans for the site, and help with the design and fit out of the interior.
“This is just the beginning,” says Eddie. “Every day I’m securing new sites, and taking calls from traders who’ve got a new idea for how to use the space. Aside from food and beverage stands, they’re an ideal place to sell souvenirs or tourist information. There’s businesses doing mobile phone repair and accessories, which is pretty ironic! I’ve even had a few conversations with people thinking of running a hair salon or cosmetics stand. The limit’s your imagination, really.”
Jake 23 from Birmingham said:
“It was only by chance I saw the boxes up to let and decided to enquire, it was cheap, small and quirky, plus the great location. So I registered as a limited company and went to the bank with my first ever attempt at a business plan, and when they said yes a week later I was baffled.”
“Once funding was in place it all kind of fell into place, the fixtures, equipment, licenses etc. And since opening yet again I was left baffled with the amounts of people turning up, plus people contacting me on Facebook from New York, Sao Paulo, Beijing and even New Zealand. It even trended on the worldwide BBC website, I could not have asked for a better response. Three weeks on its as popular as ever and I’m beginning to build up a steady amount of regulars.”
BIG THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES.
Take the famous British red phone box. Purposely designed to stand in the middle of the busiest high streets around the country, be immediately visible and serve as many people as possible.
But now that the need for public payphones is all but gone, how can we make the best use of these qualities to preserve an iconic piece of engineering and architecture?
New sites are launching across the UK, with more than 500 set to be rolled out by the end of the year. From as little as £6 per day, lease a Red Kiosk near you and start trading.
Birmingham Eden Place, Colmore Row B3 3SD 1 LET 3 AVAILABLE
Bradford Pco Manor Row Bradford BD1 4PS
Brighton Pier Seafront 2 LET
Brighton New Road Brighton BN1 1BN 2 LET
Camden Hampstead High St London NW3 1QX
Camden Russell Square London WC1B 5EH 1 LET
Camden Bloomsbury Square London WC1A 2RA 1 AVAILABLE
Chiswick Town Hall Avenue W4 5TF
Eastbourne Grand Parade BN21 3EL LET
Edinburgh High Street EH1 1RU 1 AVAILABLE
Guildford Tunsgate GU1 3HQ 1 AVAILABLE
Greenwich Greenwich High Road SE10 8NA
Islington Upper Street N1 0NY 1 AVAILABLE
Lambeth Palace Road SE1 7SG LET
Leeds City Centre LS1 2UH 3 AVAILABLE
Norwich Tombland NR3 1RF 1 AVAILABLE
Nottingham Bridlesmith Gate NG1 7DL 1 AVAILABLE
Plymouth Barbican Quay Road PL1 2JZ 2 AVAILABLE
Preston Market Street PR1 2EL 7 AVAILABLE
Ramsgate Royal Victoria Pavilion CT11 8LS 2 AVAILABLE
Southport Town Hall, Lord Street PR8 1DA 2 AVAILABLE
Stockport Great Underbank SK1 1LW 2 AVAILABLE
Stratford The Broadway E15 4BQ 2 AVAILABLE
Worcester Church Street WR1 2RH 1 AVAILABLE
- Ideal space for market stalls, coffee shops, ice cream parlours or beauty salons
- Finance available, equipment and interior fit-out supported
- A1 retail consent, power supply and secure locks fitted as standard
- 10% of profits donated to charities in the local area