A mum-of-three who turned a village’s rundown red telephone box into a library has said the initiative provides the “magic” of books to those in the community.

Iona Connolly has always been an avid reader and wanted to bring the “magic” of books to those in Stambourne, between Halstead and Haverhill.

The 35-year-old moved to the village in September 2022 after previously living in both Harlow and Hackney.

She stumbled across an abandoned phone box kitted out with old shelves which she transformed into a library.

“I saw a telephone box in our village and it didn’t have the telephone inside, but old shelves,” she said.

"It used to be used as a library, but then the person running it stopped because they moved away

Braintree and Witham Times: Library - the old telephone box in StambourneLibrary - the old telephone box in Stambourne (Image: Iona Connolly/PA)

“I got this idea in my head where I thought: ‘I’m going to get this telephone box, it’s going to be my responsibility.’

“I wanted to do it to give something to the community.”

Since 2008, BT’s Adopt a Kiosk scheme has allowed communities to buy redundant phone boxes for just £1.

Iona got permission from Stambourne Parish Council in December 2022 to acquire the telephone box.

Since then, Iona and partner Ben, 35, have added new shelves and personal touches like signs in the windows.

Braintree and Witham Times: Before and after - Iona and her partner Ben have transformed the phone boxBefore and after - Iona and her partner Ben have transformed the phone box (Image: Iona Connolly/PA)

She said her children have been “excited” by the library, especially Jake, aged ten, and Ava, six, who helped to stack shelves and even created pictures to add to it.

Iona loves seeing people in the library, with the door closed behind them as they look at the books.

“Seeing all the books stacked up and sectioned by book genres, and the before and after pics of the library, was lovely,” she said.

Iona hopes to do some themed events in future after being inspired by seeing other phone boxes dressed up to celebrate Easter and Christmas.