How did town phone box end up on Sri Lankan beach?
AS MAXONIANS fight to save the townâ€™s phone boxes, one iconic red kiosk has escaped the chop…by taking root in Sri Lanka!
Prestburyâ€™s Tim Heath, 44, was on holiday when he stumbled across a “Whirley Road” kiosk, sitting on the south east coast of the Asian island nation â€“ more than 5,000 miles from home.
He said: “I thought it was unusual to see a red phone box over there, and when I looked inside it got even stranger â€“ I could see it was from Macclesfield and I couldnâ€™t believe it!”
Looking Tardis-like and a tad incongruous on the sun-drenched beaches of Arugam Bay, the kioskâ€™s poster revealed it had been taken from Whirley Road, near Beaumont Avenue.
But if BT carry out their threat to remove 15 Silk Town kiosks, itâ€™s unlikely they will share such a sunny fate because this box was flown out by hotel owner Dr Fred Miller for a Â£10 bet. And itâ€™s uncertain if he was the real winner as it cost him a cool Â£15,000 in post and packaging to complete the 5,418 mile journey.
Dr Miller, originally from the Isle of Man, revealed he had embarked on a mission to ship two traditional boxes to Sri Lanka in 1987 after a drunken night at the East Coast resort.
He said: “I was working for the Ministry of Defence in Hong Kong where Iâ€™d lived since 1977 and I had a hotel in Arugam Bay.
“For all those years we didnâ€™t have communication and one night we were on the beach, talking about how beautiful it was, and how nice it would be to call home.
“So I said to my friends â€“ I think we can organise that.”
Spurred on by the Â£10 incentive, Fred then arranged for a military operation to fly the two phone boxes â€“ one from Silk Town and another from Buxton bought at auction in Manchester for Â£200 â€“ over to Hong Kong and airlifted by helicopter to the hotel.
He said: “It was a stupid bet and we were drunk.
“But we treated it as an army exercise and told people it was a very important delivery in order to have it delivered â€“ I had to pay off a lot of people to get it here.”
The telephone boxes arrived at Siam View hotel in Arugam bay within ten days of making the decision.
Fred said: “It arrived within ten days then we put our own sophisticated telephone system in and called home.”
And the Macclesfield kiosk has proven it is made of stern stuff as it survived the devastating Tsunami of 2004.
Fred said: “The Stockport box was destroyed in the Tsunami but your Macclesfield one survived! The water was about 35ft above it at one point and it got a bit damaged, but weâ€™ve repaired it now.”
DO YOU know of any other Macclesfield landmarks that have ended up in any strange and remote places? If so contact our newsdesk on 01625 424445 or e-mail email@example.com .
Photos above supplied by Macclesfield Express Newspaper, UK