We have just heard from CADW, that our wonderfully unusual grey telephone box at the entrance to the valley has been given Grade II Listed status!!

Many a resident has given direction to their house as “keep straight on at the grey telephone box” and the thought of BT painting it red or, heaven forbid, taking it away altogether wasn’t worth thinking about.

Some years ago BT removed the red box opposite Coed Dias, without so much as asking us. For some reason they decided that it was in Monmouthshire and so consulted the wrong Council, who obviously weren’t concerned.

Then they tried to paint it red and we managed to stop that and gave it a coat of (BT supplied) Battleship Grey. {BTW Residents, it is going to need to be done again this Spring}

Fast forward to August 2020, and undercover of COVID lockdowns, a little notice appeared inside the box – subtle – which our very own Vicky Jones spotted with her eagle eye. They were going to remove our iconic box! We contacted BT as we were under the impression that it was already Listed, but apparently not.

So we ‘mobilised the troops’ and bombarded Monmouthshire CC , whose final decision it was, with pleas to maintain the box. Our argument obviously held sway – that it is the only emergency telephone in the whole area – and we learned that it had been reprieved – for now!

Whilst residents were writing to the Council, Vicky and I were busy pestering CADW (the Welsh ancient monuments organisation) to get a full Listing. The National Park weighed in by getting it included on the regional Historic Environment Record. Things were looking up. Thanks Alice.

On 31st December we heard that it had been “recommended for Grade II listing” What a way to end a horrible year!

Then on February 1st we received the official notification that ‘our box’ is a Listed Building, and so is saved for the nation and posterity!

Perseverance pays off!

Why grey? Well many years back it was decided that telephone boxes in places like National Parks should be less obtrusive in the landscape and so many were painted grey. One in the next valley, at Capel y Ffin was also grey, but has now reverted to red. BT have tried on many occasions to re-red ours, but thanks to local vigilance from people like the late Lord Crickhowell, who lived just opposite, the grey was preserved, so we are just making formal what we have known all along – grey boxes for National Parks.

Footnote: Just as I finished writing this blog, I received an e-mail from my contact at BT Payphones with this:

I’ve been preparing some material for a possible press release about phone boxes in general and I came across an extract from a 1935 or 1936 letter from the designer of the traditional phone box (Sir Giles Gilbert Scott) to the Postmaster General:

“I do feel very strongly that the rural kiosk should not be bright red. I am more convinced than ever that bright red kiosks in an old village street or a village green will be an abomination. Red looks well in the busy streets of a city with coloured motor buses and coloured signs of all kinds but the English Rural atmosphere is entirely different, it is essentially quiet in tone and peaceful and bright red kiosks will jar the nerves of all who love rural England.”

The designer’s preferred colour was grey and I’m sure he would have held the similar views about boxes in Wales!

Maybe his spirit lives on near you!

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