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'A bit of Barnsley in Gmund'

phone box
Photo courtesy of Jan Philipp Strobel

If you think of classic British design, the London bus or underground map or the post box comes to mind along with the key piece of technological history, the red phone box. In 1988 one was shipped to Schwäbisch Gmünd, sent as a gift to the Verein Städtepartnerschaft as a visible symbol of our friendship. It was installed in 1990 in Hintere Schmiedgasse in the town centre where it stood for many years. In the beginning there were many phone calls made to friends in England from this box, probably some to see if it actually did work, some just for the novelty and probably there were some people who were frightened to use it at first because they thought that it would only connect to England.

However, with the advent of mobile phones and usage declining by over 90% in the last decade Deutsche Telekom decided to cease connection and the call box was removed. Many kiosks in England now house defibrillation machines or information centres and with the collaboration of the Verein Städtepartnerschaft, the council and works department, our telephone box was completely refurbished and transformed into a library to house books donated from all their twin towns for people to borrow and read.

barnsley gardenDuring a recent visit Oberbürgermeister Richard Arnold officially opened the library and the first books donated by BSGTTS members were added.
OB Arnold emphasised the strong and close connection with Barnsley, their first and longest twin town and due to Brexit, this was especially important.

Alan Brentnall, Chair of Barnsley Schwäbisch Gmünd Society explained
“This domed top cast iron box was first introduced in 1926 and standardised to celebrate King George V Silver Jubilee in 1935, so it is possibly around
100 years old. This key piece of classic British technological design is ‘a bit of Barnsley in Gmünd.’ It has been splendidly renovated and re-energised, and now has been given a new lease of life in another form. We really commend the choice of location, it’s like the library has come home next to Barnsley Garden. We already know how very popular our garden has become with the public and our hope is that situated here, many more people including children will be encouraged to make use of this library, spend a short time, maybe making regular visits, sitting in the garden to enjoy a nice experience reading and learning through the literature from all the twin towns contained in this multi-lingual library.”

Books from their other twin towns, Antibes (FR), Székesfehérvár (HU), Bethlehem (US) and Faenza (Italy) will be added later this year.

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