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Community / Community keen to hear about the important calls made from Collaster phone box

There is work to be done on the phone box at Collaster, Sandness. Photo: Shetland News

IMAGINE you find yourself in an emergency and urgently have to call the midwife but the only thing you can do is call the local phone box because the community nurse doesn’t want the phone in her house?

Admittedly, that’s a tale from about 70 years ago, possibly more, but according to local anecdotes that is how the phone box at Collaster on the Bousta road in Sandness came into being.

The iconic red box, without a door at the moment, is one of a few dozen in Shetland that were disconnected by BT and have been put up for adoption by the community.

A small group of enthusiasts in Sandness have now taken on restoration of their local kiosk to eventually turn it into a community information point.

Local resident Sorley Johnston said he recognises the importance the phone box has played in the lives of local people over the years and would love to hear their stories.

“The phone box used to be the centre of the community, this is where people’s communication needs were fulfilled, and mostly in the public glare,” he said. “This is where you would go to make those important calls.

“One resident remembers that they always jumped into the phone box and pulled the door shut to hide from the dog, until the lady came out to take the dog away.”

He said the phone boxes were not just iconic in appearance; they also have “quite a deep cultural link”.

And clearly speaking from experience, he recalled the trepidations of teenage years: “If you had a phone in your house, it would always be where everybody else could hear what you were saying.

“So you went down to the phone box where you could have your secret conversation.

“And remember the trepidation phoning up the girl’s house and not knowing who was going to answer. Now you phone them up directly or send a message.”

The first job at hand, however, is to make the Collaster phone box wind and water proof. Fortunately a neighbour managed to salvage the stricken door after it had blown off its hinges in a recent gale.