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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

The World's Smallest Nightclub

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas NOVEMBER. 17, 2020

[104-365] 17th. November 2020- Yesterday I finally thought lockdown was getting to me. I had started hallucinating. I was a passenger in a car driving through the nearest town along a route I had travelled a hundred times this year and thought I saw the word Nightclub on a phone box. I needn't have worried, it wasn't me cracking up, just the world in general. Yes, it is a Nightclub, The World's Smallest Nightclub. If you don't believe me then Google it, I had to.

Kingsbridge Town Council bought the phone box at the top of Fore Street, outside the police station, from BT (British Telecom) for £1. It is part of a BT scheme, whereby towns and villages taking on the responsibility of upkeep can buy the local phone box for a peppercorn sum. As a result many have been repurposed in many different ways.

Peppercorn- In legal parlance, a peppercorn is a metaphor for a very small cash payment or other nominal consideration, used to satisfy the requirements for the creation of a legal contract. In order for an essentially one-sided contract (such as a gift) to still be valid and binding, the contract will generally be written so that one side gives up something of value, while the other side gives a token sum—one pound, dollar, or literally one peppercorn. Peppercorn payments are sometimes used when selling a struggling company whose net worth may be negative. If some party agrees to take it over and assume its liabilities as well as its assets, the seller may actually agree to make a large payment to the buyer. But the buyer must still make some payment, however small, for the company in order to establish that both sides have given consideration.

This phone box was a little different as it was the 5000th phone box repurposed and adopted under the scheme. As a result BT themselves helped fund and install the nightclub. Because yes, it is a fully functioning nightclub.

Unfortunately because fun is now illegal it is closed. Hopefully only temporarily, so I had to do my best to get a look inside through only one piece of glass which was not mirrored. Maybe I will go back some day and photograph the inside in more detail.

Amazingly by chance, I have been playing a small part in the adoption or in our case, rescue, of our village phone box too and last night there was a Village Association meeting on Zoom, where it was decided to start a Go Fund Me to raise the money needed. You see our village has the bad luck to have had our phone box sited on a very useful plot of land that once housed a telephone exchange.

Consequently our box could not be purchased for a pound but had to be part of a different scheme that costs a few thousand pounds instead, because it has to be removed from the plot of land which is separately owned, and will be redeveloped, and then it will be fully restored and brought back to be re-sited outside our village hall. The box disappeared about two weeks ago.

The Nightclub phone box is conveniently situated right outside the Police Station. You can tell it is a Police Station because of the traditional blue light above the door.

The Blue Lamp is a 1950 British police drama directed by Basil Dearden and starring Jack Warner as PC Dixon, Jimmy Hanley as newcomer PC Mitchell, and Dirk Bogarde as criminal Tom Riley. The title refers to the blue lamps that traditionally hung outside British police stations (and often still do). The film became the inspiration for the 1955–1976 TV series Dixon of Dock Green, where Jack Warner continued to play PC Dixon until he was 80 years old (even though Dixon's murder is the central plot of the original film).

The film is an early example of the "social realism" films that emerged later in the 1950s and 1960s, sometimes using a partial documentary-like approach. There are also cinematic influences of the film noir genre, particularly in underworld scenes featuring Bogarde's Tom Riley, such as the pool rooms and in and around the theatre, making deliberate use of genre trademarks like slow moving low camera angles and stark lighting. (Wikipedia)

Blue lamps appeared outside London police stations in 1861. They would spread throughout not only Britain but also the empire: Bahamian police stations, for example, still have these lamps today.

There seems to be some uncertainty as to why the light is blue. Probably it was chosen to match the colour of police uniforms, themselves selected because blue was a fairly neutral colour and clearly distinct from the red of the military. However, it wasn't popular with everyone: apparently, Queen Victorian objected to the lamp outside Bow Street Police Station. Every time she went to the nearby opera house in Covent Garden, it reminded her of the blue room in which Prince Albert had died. Bow Street was therefore unusual in having a white lamp.

Whatever its origins, the blue lamp became a symbol of British policing and in particular of its positive features. (Caroline's Miscellany)

The Nightclub has rules posted.

No Alcohol. This is a teetotal establishment.

Only two disco goers maximum at any one time.

Please respect residents living locally and leave the club quietly.

All proceeds are donated to charity.

The Nightclub has disco lights and a glitter ball. It also has a music system in the form of a payphone.

You lift the receiver, place £1 in the slot and follow the instructions. Customers are reminded to behave properly or they will be ejected by the bouncers, in this case the Police next door.

The phone box plays records such as ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ by Blondie, 1978, and ‘Telephone Line’ by Electric Light Orchestra, 1976. All proceeds are donated to Kingsbridge Dementia Friendly Community.

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