Blue telephone boxes will soon be materialising on the streets of Leeds – but they’ll have nothing to do with Doctor Who.
Leeds-based telecommunications firm aql is planning to put about 24 old-style phone boxes in place at key locations around the city centre.
Painted blue rather than their traditional red, they will act as hi-tech information hubs that aql hopes will become much-loved local landmarks.
Each box will have six touch-sensitive display screens showing ‘route-finder’ information and other details primarily aimed at tourists.
Leeds residents, meanwhile, will be encouraged to use the boxes’ in-built technology to leave video messages with memories of the areas where they are located.
The solar powered kiosks will also offer free superfast wi-fi access across a range of a few hundred yards as well as emergency calling.
All services will be accessible from the exterior of the kiosks, with their doors being kept locked.
Locations earmarked for the boxes include Dortmund Square, Victoria Gardens, City Square, Armouries Way, Briggate and The Headrow plus a spot near the front entrance to the Corn Exchange.
Bosses at aql are working closely with Leeds City Council to ensure the final sites complement existing architecture and street furniture. The firm’s Dr Adam Beaumont said: “We want them to become something iconic.
“We won’t be putting the blue boxes in any other cities, as we want them to be a symbol of Leeds.”
Dr Beaumont said aql had come up with the idea for the kiosks while it was planning an expansion of its fibre network.
The equipment needed for the expansion could have been stored in unsightly green cabinets – but aql, whose corporate colour is blue, decided restored phone boxes would present a more attractive option.
Britain’s classic red kiosks were designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the architect responsible for Battersea Power Station, Waterloo Bridge and Liverpool Cathedral.
A spokeswoman for BT said there were currently 42 old-style boxes still on the streets of Leeds, with 18 of those being classed as listed structures.