I have passed the yard of #UniquelyBritish countless times since moving to Kent 10 years ago but I visited the place for the first time last week. Their yard is situated next door to the busy A2 motorway on it’s way to Dover but because the landscape is elevated at that point you wouldn’t realise the road is there. And there is not much else around aside from countryside which creates a slightly incongruous and somewhat surreal environment for these red telephone boxes.
#UniquelyBritish have been resurrecting these red telephone boxes for years and send them out all over the world and are the only company in Kent doing this work and one of three or four nationwide. They also do postboxes and some of the more standard architectural salvage stuff but the phoneboxes are the undoubted stars. There seems to little point in regurgitating the history of these iconic British objects here, but if you are curious to know more, this is a good place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_telephone_box
The place made me think of the slightly weird Spanish movie La Cabina (“The Telephone Box”), an Emmy award-winning, 1972 film directed by Spanish director Antonio Mercero, and written by him and José Luis Garci. The plot is simple: A new phone-box is delivered to a own square. A father tries to make a call and is trapped in it. All efforts to release him fail and eventually he is carried away (in the box) to a hellish place where hundreds of similar telephone boxes are stored resplendent with their ex-occupants. A weird but compelling movie.
After meeting Jonathan for the first time yesterday afternoon (what a nice guy!) we quickly settled into a book-signing routine (a novel experience for both of us) and emerged later to find our subject bathed in wonderful warm late afternoon sunlight.
The evening event was good too and JF gave a short lively presentation that simultaneously illustrated the complexity of and his passion for his subject.
It was amazing that despite working together over the past 2 1/2 years we had not met together as a group so last night was the first time the writer, publishers, book designer and photographer met up at the same time!
One more event in May and then the project will be truly behind us and it will be time to start pursuing the next one, whatever that turns out to be.
Another one from the SeaPeople project:
Alan Stanley has been building wooden boats all his life and is something of an institution at Chambers Wharf, where his workshop is located on the banks of Oare Creek. His workshop is a wonderful hands-on environment where people really get to grips with their material. Not a iPhone, computer, gigabyte, pixel or router in sight, just lots of tools and wood dust and some fantastic looking boats. (And that marvellous smell of freshly cut timber!)