Find out how a neglected phone box on a street in Edinburgh has found a new lease of life and a new name – Gilbert!

For generations, the distinctive red phone boxes that graced town centres and even the remotest parts of the British Isles were a striking symbol of everything British. Solid. Dependable. Unflappable whatever the weather.

However, as telecommunication technology transformed society, the iconic red telephone box became obsolete. Up and down the country many were removed. Other’s that remained stood forlornly as the telecom company ceased to maintain them as they had before. Too often the vandals struck and broken glass littered the pavement around them.

Neglected remains of telecoms history

Only a few, well-maintained, boxes in popular locations would ever attract camera-toting tourists who couldn’t leave the UK without a memento snap inside or beside one. This box on Queen Street in Edinburgh New Town was set to face a fateful doom in the corner of a scrap dealer’s yard. It hadn’t seen a lick of red paint in years and panes of glass were missing.

Queen Street Edinburgh old phone box
The neglected phone box on Queen Street in Edinburgh

Now it’s received a new lease of life following its adoption by Scotland’s oldest gentleman’s outfitters, Stewart Christie and Co. They jumped at the opportunity, provided by British Telcom, for local communities to take over redundant kiosks and give them a new use. The Edinburgh father and son duo of Frederick and Daniel Fearn created a whimsical photo booth in Edwardian style. It comes complete with photo props, such as bowler hats and wooden canes. They named the box Gilbert in honour of its famous designer Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.

For a donation to the charity ‘Save the Children’ you can pick up the key from the nearby Stewart Christie & Co and explore inside. Although small in size there’s a few hidden nooks and crannies to discover. It will certainly make for a different photo, to remember your trip to Edinburgh.

Where in Edinburgh is Gilbert

This distinctive former telephone box is located outside 63 Queen Street, Edinburgh, Scotland. Find it on Google Maps. It’s just a short walk from Charlotte Square in the heart of the city’s New Town

Where to get the key

Pop into Stewart Christie & Co, the telephone box is right outside, and they will hand you the key. A £3 donation to Save the Children is requested which can be made by text or using the donation box in the kiosk. Ths store is open Monday to Saturday from 9.00 to 17.30. You can take a peek inside through the windows at any time.