Thursday, 14 June 2012

New Forest's smallest visitor information centre celebrates its first birthday

It's the New Forest's most unusual visitor information centre - and it recently celebrated its first birthday.


The iconic BT telephone box was last year transformed by the local community after Lyndhurst Parish Council adopted it as part of the UK-wide ‘adopt a kiosk’ scheme for £1.

With help from the New Forest National Park Authority they installed information and local history panels, a map for walkers and swap shop for books, DVDs and local produce. The village pub (New Forest Inn) even donated a dog bowl. It also has a notice board advertising everything from film nights to church services and a donations box.

Jim Mitchell, Interpretation Officer at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The community has worked really hard and it’s good to see it paying off. They continue to dedicate their own time towards this project that not only helps the whole community but also passers-by and walkers.

‘It was great to be part of this and it’s good to hear about people using the kiosk and learning about this special area of the National Park. The kiosk is in the street that was almost certainly the birthplace of ‘Brusher’ Mills, the New Forest’s famous snake catcher.’

Emery Down resident Peter Power was one of the driving forces behind the project. He said: ‘It has been a great first year - the kiosk and a large display of local history have proved to be very popular.

‘We have also been overwhelmed by people’s generosity making donations. In the first 12 months we have received over £350 which has helped purchase banners, light bulbs and much more for the nearby village church.

‘We have received so much positive feedback in our visitor’s book from people travelling from as far away as Australia.’

The telephone box is on the Lyndhurst Parish walk, a 13.5km trail that takes in Lyndhurst village centre, Bolton’s Bench and the Forest.

Part of this track from Silver Street to Blackwater has recently been upgraded thanks to grants from the New Forest National Park Authority’s Access Forum and Hampshire County Council’s Access Forum with help from the Forestry Commission. This will now provide an alternative route for walkers to Mill Lane away from the busy road.