Motoring organisation telephone
|A roadside AA telephone box|
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Motoring organisation telephones are telephones at the roadside which were installed by the motoring organisations the AA and the RAC.
The AA installed the first roadside sentry boxes in 1911, they were originally to provide shelter for their patrols who travelled on bicycles, and later motorbikes, while they were out on the road. They had phones installed to allow patrols to contact base.
In around 1920 members were issued with keys for the boxes so they too could use the facilities in the boxes and summon help in the event of a breakdown. In addition to the telephones the boxes contained other equipment such as lamps, fire extinguishers and local maps which were available for members to use. As well as calling for breakdown assistance, members were permitted to use the telephones to call other numbers whilst on their travels, local calls were free of charge but trunk calls made via the operator either had to be made by reversing the charges or relied on the honesty of the members to leave the correct payment for the call in the box.
Eventually the phones in the boxes were replaced with ones with preset numbers to dial, usually the AA, RAC and 999. Reciprocal agreements allowed members of either the AA or RAC to use the other organisation's telephones.
The last sentry box style telephone kiosks were installed by the organisations in the 1960s, in the 1970s newer designs of roadside telephone were introduced to replace many of the older boxes, similar to the emergency roadside telephones provided on motorways, although in some locations these were provided in glass kiosks. In the late 1980s the final phones were installed, by this time similar to the modern ERTs, and the number of traditional sentry boxes left had reduced from around 1000 to around 20.
In 2002 the AA announced that it was going to stop providing its network of phones as they had become used so infrequently with the rise in use in mobile phones. Around 300 of the 500 phones which remained at this time and were located on trunk roads were passed onto the relevant trunk road authorities to maintain. Most of these have been re-branded as SOS phones and are connected to the police or traffic control in the same manners as other ERTs.
It is thought that 21 of the original AA sentry boxes remain in situ at the roadside, most of these are now listed buildings and, although some have been restored by local communities, many are in various states of disrepair. An (incomplete) list of these is below. It is thought that no RAC boxes remain in their original locations.
Other examples of AA and RAC telephones and boxes exist in museums or private collections away from their original location.
List of remaining AA boxes in Original Locations
|Image||Box No.||Name||On road(s)||County||Location||Information|
|504||Ardgay Box||A836/B9176||Ross-shire||NH633872||Restored in 2008|
Listed:LB49298 (Cat B)
|746||Loch Allen Box||A939/A940||Morayshire||NJ005388||Listed:LB49222 (Cat B)|
|631||Brachla Box||A82||Inverness-shire||NH561329||Listed:LB49223 (Cat B)|
|472||Cambus O'May Box||A93||Aberdeenshire||NO426976||Restored in 2009 by local community.|
Listed:LB49218 (Cat C)
|753||Glen Dye Box||B974||Kincardineshire||NO650891|
|714||Threapland Box||A96||Morayshire||NJ290611||Listed:LB49230 (Cat B)|
|723||Cappercleuch Box||A708||Selkirkshire||NT240231||Listed:LB49228 (Cat B)|
|573||Garrowby Box||A166||Yorkshire||SE786566||Listed:1251697 (Grade II)|
|442||Aysgarth Box||A684||Yorkshire||SE026888||Listed:1302200 (Grade II)|
|372||Mere Box||A50/A556||Cheshire||SJ727817||Listed:1139490 (Grade II)|
|817||Beadnell Box||B1340||Northumberland||NU229294||Listed:1234878 (Grade II)|
|487||Dunmail Raise Box||A591||Westmorland||NY330110||Listed:1367182 (Grade II)|
|456||Halfway House Box||A3052||Devon||SY048903||Listed:1140424 (Grade II)|
|137||Porlock Box||A39||Somerset||SS841462||Listed:1345414 (Grade II)|
|530||Brancaster Box||A149||Norfolk||TF789442||Listed:1239792 (Grade II)|
|580||Boduan Box||A497||Caernarfonshire||SH324378||Listed:14430 (Grade II)|
|289||Devil's Bridge Box||A4120/B4574||Cardiganshire||SN741770||Listed:84246 (Grade II)|
|161||Nantyffin Box||A40/A479||Brecknockshire||SO198198||Listed:87808 (Grade II)|
List of remaining AA boxes in Other Locations
List of remaining RAC boxes in Other Locations