If you've noticed two new red telephone booths outside the Western Bay Museum - don't plan on making phone calls there. They are the booths that were at the old museum but have been completely restored.
Roger Sexton, Joe Pannett (painting) and Michael Cox in the throes of restoring the second phone box. Photo/Chris Steel
Members of the Pakeke Lions Men's Shed have spent two mornings a week over the past 18 months painstakingly reconstructing and restoring them back to their original condition. Museum curator Paula Gaelic first asked the members whether the phone booths could be restored so they could be used again at the new museum.
"I wanted them to be exactly how they were built originally. I am absolutely delighted with them."
Volunteers Roger Sexton, Michael Cox and Joe Pannett have worked on the project. Being a bit of a handyman and a carver, Roger was happy to volunteer.
The work involved removing any rotten wood and replacing it in keeping with the style.
The original glass has been carefully removed and refitted. Katikati Glass staff helped show the men how to put the putty in to support the glass, says Men's Shed co-ordinator, Ron Boggiss.
A lot of wood had to be dressed and shaped, due to the sizes of timber (60mm x 50mm) not being available today. The original booth had mortise and tenon joins, but dowels and glue were used on the window joinery so it will last much longer. Mike, being a watchmaker by trade, has been good with angles and shapes, says Joe, who spent hours painting every inch of the booths in the original phone box red. Joe and his wife, Jocelyn, kindly covered the cost of the brackets, locks and bolts on the booth doors.
The red booths are an important part of the Western Bay Museum's education programme. Paula says Switch Electrical will be connecting phones in the booths to Katikati's original telephone exchange inside, that operated up until 1981.
"People will be able to ring the exchange where they will be connected by an operator to the phone in the booth next door," says Paula. An old jarah power pole from the Tauranga Historic Village has been installed alongside the booths to display a series of insulators.
"We have two of the first insulators used in New Zealand in the 1800s," Paula says. One is in the collection and the other will be on the pole.
To complete the project Paula is looking for a door closing spring, similar to those used on catching pens in old woolsheds. If you can help please contact her on 549 0651.
(C) Bay News