The city of Portsmouth has refurbished the British phone booth it received as a gift in 1984 from its British "friendship city."

The "phone box" was shipped on board the HMS Sirius from Portsmouth, England, and placed at the back door of the Portsmouth Historical Society on Middle Street. 39 years of weather and vandalism meant it was starting to deteriorate, and the city of Portsmouth's 400th anniversary was deemed a good time to refurbish the booth.

After determining that the cost of shipping it back to Unicorn Manufacturing would be significant, the Public Works Department took on the refurbishment. Authentic parts were ordered, and the booth was carefully wrapped in plastic and moved to the DPW shop in April.

Restored British phone booth
Restored British phone booth (City of Portsmouth)

The renovations involved sandblasting, applying multiple coats of paint, reglazing the booth with safety glass in glazing frames, installing a push/pull safety glass panel, and restoring the hinges and door pull handle. The original crest of the HMS Sirius on the interior wall was also preserved.

The booth will return to the Historical Society for an an official dedication on Wednesday, this time at the front door. Mayor Deaglan McEachern will lead an official ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday afternoon.

The Historical Society will show video of the phone booth's arrival in 1984, and will host a curator tour of "A Sense of Place: an exhibition to accompany a History of Portsmouth NH in 101 Objects."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via X (Twitter) @DanAlexanderNH

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