L-R: Steph McCahill, Andy McCluskey and  BT payphones manager Mark Johnson
L-R: Steph McCahill, Andy McCluskey and BT payphones manager Mark Johnson
Richard Bell

New life for Wirral phone box that once served as OMD’s ‘little red office’

An old red phone box that became synonymous with Wirral band OMD is back on the street thanks to a fan-led campaign.

The kiosk, located on Greenwood Road in Meols, was the subject of the band’s second single released in 1980.

OMD used it during the late ’70s to organise their early gigs and wrote its number, 632 3003, into the lyrics of Red Frame/White Light.

Phone box was removed earlier this year under BT’s payphone removal programme, since no objections were raised during the public consultation process, but when fans realised it was gone they quickly assembled the campaign group ‘Save 632 3003’ and called for its reinstatement.

Their efforts, based on the phone box’s status as a tourist draw and object of cultural significance, drew support within Wirral Council – and in particular from the Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure, Cllr Stuart Whittingham.

After officers from the council’s highways team and Wirral West Constituency Committee liaised with BT, the box was brought into safe keeping while arrangements were made for its recovery.

The Save 632 3003 team is now called Friends of 632 3003 and will operate as a properly constituted Friends group, committed to maintaining and managing the phone box.

One of their first tasks was to give the kiosk a fresh coat of the famous ‘currant red’ paint seen on all of Britain’s old phone boxes. BT supplied the paint for free.

Friends of 632 3003 chairperson Steph McCahill said: “Seeing the phone box returned and installed today is a significant milestone in the work of the Friends of 632 group who campaigned hard to get it back into its rightful place.

“The OMD fans have been with us every step of the way and, like the Friends Group, are ecstatic about the box being reinstalled.”

OMD’s own Andy McCluskey also welcomed the return of the phone box.

He said: “The old telephone box at the corner of Greenwood Road was our communication centre to the rest of the world in the very early days of the band when neither Paul Humphreys nor I lived in houses that had a telephone.

“It had a nostalgic connection for both of us as we needed it to call school friends and girlfriends and seemed an appropriate subject for a song by a band that specialises in the interaction of humans and machines.”

He continued: “Using 632 3003 we arranged concerts, phoned music newspapers and kept in contact with our manager and record label. It was here that I heard the news that we had our first top 20 single.

“I was sad to see it removed, but frankly amazed at the level of support that the ‘Friends’ gathered in having it reinstated. Many thanks to all who have taken part in preserving this small piece of our history. I am delighted to see it back because I am still playing music and touring 40 years after our ‘little red office’ started us on the journey!”

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