Cracking idea for Yorkshire village’s old phone box

NO YOKE: Mr Hugill at the phone box in Carlton-in-Cleveland he wants to turn into an egg vending machine. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
NO YOKE: Mr Hugill at the phone box in Carlton-in-Cleveland he wants to turn into an egg vending machine. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Innovative ideas have been mooted across Yorkshire to bring old disused phone boxes back into use, from cash machines to tiny libraries and even the world’s smallest museum.

Now, with the passing of a planning application yesterday, a farmer in the North York Moors National Park has his intentions set on converting one to an even more unusual use – an egg vending machine.

“I’ve always wanted to sell produce from the farm gates, but we didn’t want too many visitors,” said farmer David Hugill. “This is an ideal opportunity – it gives me a new farm gate within a half a mile.”

The village of Carlton-in-Cleveland has been without an egg seller since an honesty box was discontinued some time ago after some people “forgot to pay”. When the parish council bought the phone box, the farmer, who is also a district councillor, offered to stock eggs. While it was an opportunity, Mr Hugill said, the idea was primarily driven by need as there are lots of residents who are keen to buy.

“We used to sell eggs in Carlton, but we had to stop for various reasons,” he said. “Let’s just say, the honesty box wasn’t being used quite right.

“The people of Carlton want their eggs back, that’s the key driver. There will be a slot to put in money. People are excited.”

The application, heard by the North York Moors National Park Authority, was passed yesterday. Planners had been impressed with the idea, said Mr Hugill, and quite entertained.

“In a lot of villages, it’s about the space – there’s no space really for things like this,” he said, admitting he wished the phone box was a traditional red one. “This is the perfect opportunity.”

Mr Hugill, a cattle farmer from nearby Faceby, has been keeping hens since 2005 and now has a brood of about 16,000. He already sells eggs at farmers’ markets across the county in Huddersfield, Redcar and Stokesley, and people from the village had been travelling to buy.

There is a minor challenge though, in that the company that makes the vending machines is not producing any at the moment, so Mr Hugill will have to wait until one can be commissioned.