North East Lincolnshire phone boxes that were donated to Cleethorpes’ twin town, Königswinter, many years ago have been transformed into mini libraries.
Traces of our resort are scattered throughout the German town in the form of ‘phone box libraries’.
Since the 1980s, people in Königswinter could make their phone calls in original British red phone boxes thanks to the donation from North East Lincolnshire.
But with the ever-increasing use of mobile phones, the number of calls made from public phone boxes plummeted. For our twin town Königswinter, this was no reason to remove them (as was the fate of almost all German phone boxes).
Instead, the town found another use for them – a more literary one. The town converted them into tiny libraries. Everybody is now invited to take a book from the shelves of these public bookcases, or to leave one.
Give and Take – that is how these libraries work. Their big advantages include being robust and weatherproof, being open 365 days a year, 24-hours a day, and they have no fees or due dates.
In 2014, the first of the three phone boxes from Cleethorpes was turned into a public bookcase. It stands in the market place of the old town of Königswinter within view of the Rhine and is popular with locals and tourists as a photo opportunity.
Rauschendorf, one of the many villages that belong to Königswinter, then followed and turned its red phone box into a bookcase too. However, the phone box in Ittenbach had been misused and had to be restored. Villagers had to wait until August 2020 to open their own micro library.
All red phone box libraries are looked after by local volunteers. The books offered on its shelves range from novels to cooking books, from biographies to poetry, even books written in English can be found here.
Königswinter’s Mayor Peter Wirtz said: “These three red beacons will always be a sign of friendship between Cleethorpes and Königswinter.”
The Worshipful Mayor of the Borough of North East Lincolnshire, Councillor Terry Walker, said: “This is a brilliant idea and I’m thrilled that a little bit of North East Lincolnshire sits in the town of Königswinter.
“It’s great that these phone boxes have been put to such good use for everyone to enjoy and get lost in a book.”