Late in 2019 the Committee of Management for Traquair Village Hall were asked by a local resident about the possibility of adopting the telephone box in the village from BT. It had fallen in to disrepair, and the red paint was faded and peeling away after decades of exposure to the elements. Dating back to 1936, the K6 telephone box is an iconic design that was produced up until the 1980’s – though it was unclear when this one was installed but had been seen in photos of the village from the 1950’s so was likely to be at least 60 years old.

Late in the spring of 2020 the payphone was removed and paperwork was received confirming that Traquair Village Hall were now the owners of the iconic K6 telephone box, for the sum of £1. The K6 phone box dates back to 1936, and is an instantly recognisable piece of British design.

Work began to restore the telephone box by one of the committee members, Mark Phelan, and after careful removal of all 72 panes of glass the services of a local firm were called upon to sandblast the phone box in situ to remove the layers of paint and take it back to bare metal. After priming and applying several coats of the original “currant red” gloss paint it was finally protected from the elements once again, and with the help of local resident Elaine Heron who painstakingly cleaned each pane of glass the phone box was once again weathertight.

Given the prominent location situated opposite the war memorial alongside the B709 in Traquair, it was not long before comments were made about the fresh new paint and questions were being asked about “what are you going to do with it?”

Several suggestions had been made about how the phone box should be used moving forwards but it was tough to settle on a single purpose.
Inspired by a stained-glass phone box in Suffolk, local resident and artist Moy Mackay suggested a similar idea to the Village Hall Committee when she learned they had acquired the phone box.

Along with help from resident Dani Dove and young visiting artist Mally Snow from North Carolina, the three set about making templates to deliver to every home in the area. All residents were invited to submit designs, ideas, stories, a poem or a song even for inclusion.

After a couple of months there were enough completed returns to start the project. Moy and Mally meticulously recreated artwork onto acetate panels. For the stained-glass effect (this was a low budget/upcycled stained glass version), recycled materials were used, sourced from Borders Scrapstore in Selkirk in the form of rolls of Quality Street coloured cellophane wrapping. Different coloured panels were created which, once backlit, illuminate beautifully to give a stained-glass appearance. Thanks go to resident Mark Phelan for the lighting which brings the box to life once night falls which is the best time to visit this installation.

Local stories and drawings include local landscapes, landmarks, history, poems and songs. These include: The Bush O Boon in the form of a drawing from Jennifer Caird with an excerpt of the original poem as well as an alternative version from the late Border Bard, Howard Purdie. Migrating swallows, local wildlife, the war memorial, the old school, the ancient Yews, hall user groups, Traquair Fair and The Incredible String Band are just some of the local attractions that can all be spotted within each of the colourful panels which tells a story of life, past and present in Traquair. It is hoped that both locals and visitors to the area will enjoy this colourful insight into Traquair through the eyes of its residents.

The interior of the telephone box is still to be completed, but from the outside it is now looking bright and vibrant both day and night. It is hoped that in future it may be able to be used for other purposes, but in the meantime the windows can be enjoyed between 5pm and 10pm every night during the winter months.