Friday, 22 January 2010

'TARDIS' In Newport, Gwent To Be Restored

The police box with Sharon Dennis (Rascal), Minister for Heritage, Alun Ffred Jones and Deborah Clark (Rascal).

A RARE 'TARDIS' phone box is among the latest historic structures to receive funds to ensure their survival.

The former police box will be repaired so it resembles the time-travel craft made famous in the Doctor Who TV series.

A local community group won a £10,500 grant from the Assembly Government, which takes it closer to its goal of restoring the iconic feature in the Somerton area of Newport.

Deborah Clark, who was involved in the application, was delighted by the success of the bid by the community group Rascal.

She said: “Everybody refers to it as the Tardis – it’s a landmark. The whole of the estate love it.”

At present, the phone box is badly dilapidated and in dire need of repair.

Ms Clark said: “It’s got fencing around it because it’s structurally dangerous at the moment. We had a little look inside and all the concrete is crumbling.”

She said she hoped outgoing Doctor Who actor David Tennant could be persuaded to visit the phone box when its restoration was complete. It has become a useful landmark when giving directions, and past suggestions it should be removed have met strong opposition. Ms Clark said: “There was uproar on the estate because they want to keep it there.”

The phone boxes date back to the days when police did not have radios to communicate with the local station.

On the last occasion she was able to look inside, Ms Clark said she saw “a little desk with a stool and a phone”.

Local Doctor Who fan Peter Bell, who now lives in Cardiff, said: “It’s a great relief to know that the Somerton Tardis will be around for a few years yet. It’s been a local icon for as long as I can remember. I passed it every day on my way to school and it never failed to fire my imagination.

“[It’s] a little touch of magic in the heart of suburbia. Back in the days when Doctor Who was dead and buried, I used to imagine that the Doctor had taken a sabbatical and parked the Tardis in Newport until his services were required again.”

He added: “Somebody even tried to set fire to it once.”

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