Appeal for old AA boxes [Grimsby Telegraph (UK)]
(Grimsby Telegraph (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) WITH 4G mobile phone services all the talk at the moment, the AA is recalling a bygone age as it marks the centenary of the famous AA roadside telephone box with an appeal to trace old AA boxes.
The so-called "lighthouses of the road" were introduced in 1912 - Box no.1 was at Newingreen, near Hythe, Kent - and were originally intended as shelters for passing patrols. Each box was soon equipped with a phone allowing contact with patrols and members to make emergency calls. The wooden structures were also equipped with a fire extinguisher, small fuel supply, first aid equipment, cleaning materials and local infor mation.
From 1968 the wooden sentry boxes were phased out - with the exception of those that were listed or in areas of scenic beauty - in favour of more modern, pedestal phones. AA boxes eventually numbered around 800, cementing their position in the British motoring landscape.
The AA decommissioned all of its roadside phones in 2002 due to the widespread use of mobile phones but now one of the iconic black and yellow boxes is making a comeback in a new AA online advert for breakdown cover. The video features a box "magically" appearing at the scene of a breakdown to illustrate the AA's national coverage.
Andy Smith, AA patrol of the year, says: "When early AA patrols stood by their sentry box, the mobile phone - never mind 4G - was the stuff of science fiction.
"Ultimately the mobile phone called time on our roadside boxes but we use its technology to help get to our members even quicker.
We can pinpoint someone's location using their phone or the AA app and we're developing a new, state-of-the-art patrol despatch and diagnostics system that works over the mobile network." There are now only 19 remaining AA wooden sentry boxes on public roads (list available on request), eight of which are Grade II listed. They are either still maintained by the AA or by the respective local council, highways authority, Welsh Assembly or Scottish Parliament. Andy Smith continues: "AA phone boxes were a familiar and welcome sight on the nation's roads for 90 years and are a treasured part of our motoring heritage. We'd like to trace any remaining wooden sentry boxes that are now in private ownership or collections, so would welcome hearing from anyone who has one." If anyone has an old AA sentry box or any other significant item of AA memorabilia, particularly old patrol vehicles or uniforms, please e-mail details to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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