Project allows villagers to call the past

Tideswell history box, Judy Cooke, Mary Landon, Gillian Adams, Paul Harrison and Bill Bevan
Tideswell history box, Judy Cooke, Mary Landon, Gillian Adams, Paul Harrison and Bill Bevan

A community has come up with a novel use for an old red telephone box in the centre of a village.

Tideswell Living History Group has transformed the old phone box in Fountain Square into the Tideswell History Telephone – a permanent oral history audio heritage centre.

Residents and visitors will be able to dial–the–past to listen to Tideswell folk talking about village history using a specially adapted and free pay phone.

The kiosk will also feature a gallery of archive photographs about the village.

The rear of the kiosk will feature a specially written poem about using the phone to communicate in the days before mobiles and Twitter. The poem, called ‘An Ode T’ T’owd Phone Box’, was written by Dave Greenan and was the winner of a poetry competition in 2013.

Judy Cooke, vice chairman of the history group, said: “Funding has helped us to preserve the distinctive telephone kiosk in its original position in Fountain Square after the parish council bought it from BT for £1.

“In the days before mobile phones and before most people had landlines, this was one of the lifelines for residents to communicate in emergencies or get in touch with friends and family.  The box is in a central location and has been part of Tideswell life for generations, with many stories to tell. It has been transformed to tell many more.

“We hope it will help residents rediscover their past and visitors to learn about the people’s history of Tideswell.”

The oral history recordings and photographs have been collected by members of the living history group over the last two years as part of the Tideswell Tales project – a community–led history project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Peak District National Park Authority has paid for the cost of refurbishing and cleaning the box through the Sustainable Development Fund.

All calls are free and people cannot dial 999 for emergency services. Oral history and photographic displays will be changed regularly from the large archive collected by the group.

To find out more about the Tideswell Tales project, visit To comment on this story online, visit