Little red phone box on the street corner

A Knaresborough couple are keeping the sight of red phone box alive.

Friday, 2nd April 2021, 4:00 am
New artwork of a phone box by local artist Shirley Vine was unveiled at the corner King James Road and Aspin Lane, Knaresborough. The work was commissioned by Matt and Lynn Curl pictured. Picture Gerard Binks

Matt Curl and his wife Lynn always directed to their King James Road home as the one behind the phone box until last August when BT removed the familiar structure.

“There has been a phone box outside our house for many years,” said Matt.

“We always gave people direction to our house by saying it was behind the phone box.

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“Then last year it had a notice on it indicating it may be removed.

“My wife and I thought it would be good to have a trompe l’oeil in this part of town of a red phone box, in the event the actual box was removed.”

So the couple swung into action when a team of workmen removed the box last August, leaving a large hole in the hedge.

Matt added: “Shortly afterwards we contacted Shirley Vine, a local artist who has painted several of the tompe l’oeil in town, to see if she was interested in the project. Shirley kindly agreed to paint it for us.

“We applied for the necessary planning consent and when that was granted Shirley set to work.

Sitting on a frame constructed by local builder Neil Watts, the artwork was installed last week.

And it was unveiled by neighbour Eleanor McRobert who, with her husband Derrick, has socialised and trained hearing dogs for the deaf for the charity Hearing Dogs.

“They are also amazing fundraisers for the charity,” added Matt.

“As a tribute to them Bruce, the dog they had last and for the longest period, features in the painting.

The couple also got Shirley to paint some bees in the scene as Matt has been keeping bees for about three years.

Matt added: “It also mentions bell ringing practice at St John’s on Tuesdays at 7.30pm as I am Tower Captain there.

“As another personal touch we asked for our granddaughter Florence’s name to be included in the painting. She is our first grandchild and was born last July.

“Including design and preparation, Shirley spent 75 hours on this piece.

“We hoped that it would add to the town’s artwork and bring a smile to the faces of passers-by.”

“All in all we are very pleased with the result and think it adds to the town’s art work.”

The street art adds to the ones that can be seen around the town, including a mural on the gable end of a house in Cheapside by artist Simon Porter.