‘Tardis’ buyers to celebrate old police boxes

An eclectic group of new owners is determined to preserve the iconic status of the city’s police boxes for years to come.

Johnathan Elders. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Johnathan Elders. Picture: Ian Georgeson

And now they have clubbed together to celebrate the history of the famous pieces of street furniture, many of which are being given a new lease of life as florists, art displays and even a costume-making studio.

The inaugural Edinburgh Police Box Festival will be held on July 4 and 5, and organisers hope the event will attract tourists and locals alike.

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Artist Johnathan Elders, who bought the Pier Place box at Newhaven Harbour last year, is among the collective behind the free showcase.

The 36-year-old, who wants to use his box as an art space while preserving the original features, said: “They are slightly eccentric little spaces and they have been bought by an eccentric bunch of owners.”

Owners of six Edinburgh police boxes – ranging from a mini costume-making studio at Bruntsfield Links to a tiny florist in Canonmills – have so far signed up to the festival, but more are expected to get involved.

Each of the units will offer something different, with jazz music, art exhibitions and local food and drink among the attractions.

Mr Elders said: “We deliberately planned to have it outwith the main festival season, so we don’t get lost in it. We’ll have flyers with maps and we’re hoping that people will go from one box to another. It will be a nice day out.

“The boxes have been part of the community since they were part of the police. We don’t want these boxes to move from that.”

Among the other participants are the owners of Tupiniquim creperie in Middle Meadow Walk.

Fernando and Gardenia Miranda launched an 11th-hour fundraising campaign when the owner of the box put it up for sale at £20,000 last year. Loyal customers donated £11,000 in just over a week, helping the Mirandas to secure the business by adding the cash to family savings.

Mr Miranda said of the festival: “It’s very exciting to get 
together and do something with the other guys. It’s really special to share this.”

To promote the festival, a launch night will be held at the Newhaven police box on May 29, with children’s comedy and circus skills from 4pm to 5pm, and further comedy and local tales between 7pm and 9pm.

Police Scotland’s sale of the historic units attracted bids ranging from £35,550 to just £450, depending on the location. So far, £156,000 has been raised from the sale of 21 boxes, the proceeds of which will be pooled into resources for the national force.