New telephone box TIC opened in Thurne

A historic red telephone box, nestled in the centre of the Broads village of Thurne has undergone a unique transformation to convert it into a visitor information centre featuring a sustainably powered ‘wind-up’ audio player.

Renovated red phone box used as a Broads Tourist Information Centre

From the outside the phone box looks exactly as it was when installed well over 50 years ago following a sympathetic restoration using period correct colours and the replacement of all 72 panes of glass. The only clue that something is different are the words “Broads National Park information” in the window at the top of the box. Once you step inside, the transformation really becomes apparent.

As well as a panel of visitor information about Thurne and the Broads National Park an intriguing device invites you to turn a handle which powers an audio experience of birdsong, helping you to identify species commonly found in the area.

The phone box was due to be decommissioned by British Telecom and local consultations could not identify an alternative use for it so it was offered to the Broads Authority. An idea was developed for a visitor information centre with content to educate, inspire and encourage residents and visitors to explore the Broads at any time of the year.

Funding to complete the project was secured through EXPERIENCE, a €24.5 million project co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (€16.9 million) through the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme.

Renovated red phone box used as a Broads Tourist Information Centre

John Packman, Chief Executive of the Broads Authority explains:

“The opportunity to save one of these iconic phone boxes, restore it and put it to good use was too good to resist. I am grateful to Norfolk County Council’s EXPERIENCE officers - they appreciated the vision behind this unusual idea and supported us in bringing it to reality.”

The Broads National Park visitor information bird box was officially opened by Angela Jefford, EXPERIENCE Project Manager, accompanied by John to coincide with English Tourism Week (17 to 26 March) which showcases the value and quality of the English tourism offer.

Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships for Norfolk County Council - the lead partner of EXPERIENCE - said:

“Reviving a cultural landmark in such an imaginative way will add to the charm of the Broads for visitors.

“The natural beauty of Norfolk, combined with unique attractions like this make it such an appealing place to visit at any time of year. So we’re really pleased to be supporting local businesses and sustainable tourism in this way.”

Since the need for their original use has declined, iconic red K6 telephone boxes have been adapted for many different community uses including defibrillators, libraries, and mini-shops. It is believed that Thurne information centre with its audio player is the first of its kind, possibly claiming the title of the smallest National Park information centre in the world!

Graphic design work was completed by the Broads Authority and the external restoration was completed by Norfolk Company, Kereds Construction.

Tuesday 21 March 2023