A DISUSED phone box in a Tyne Valley village has been transformed into a popular community hub.

The historic red phone box, located just off the green at Matfen, has been a firm fixture in the neighbourhood for generations.

But after being decommissioned, the once popular booth became a tired magnet for spiders and their webs.

Now it has been brought back to life following an idea from local youngster Hannah Cutler by being relaunched as a book swap shop.

Residents are invited to bring along a book, and swap it for one of the others which have been assembled on newly installed shelves, in various sections.

“I think it has been well received in the village,” said Hannah’s dad Shaun. “This was a lockdown project for Hannah and she’s really enjoyed doing something worthwhile for the community.”

The 12-year-old was inspired during a family holiday in France, prior to lockdown, when they saw bookshops in non-mainstream locations, such as sculptures.

With the support of the local community, the family embarked on a challenge which didn’t start quite so pleasantly.

Shaun explained: “After the phone box was decommissioned, a noticeboard was put up in there but it had become damp because the windows were leaking in a bit of water. It needed a bit of attention.

“We sealed the windows up and Hannah sourced some stained glass stickers, which really look attractive.

“We used wood to create some shelves on the far wall, opposite the door. It has been structured well and there’s more room in a phone box than you might think.”

There are various sections, with books for children and adults in both fiction and non-fiction, and Shaun said the family were pleased to have created an attraction for residents to use during a period where more people are spending time at home.

“We’re really happy with it,” he said. “It’s a little hub where people can go an exchange books, entirely on an honesty basis.

“I am sure residents will see each other, and have a catch up as long as they are adhering to social distancing measures and other covid-19 regulations.”

Residents are being asked to wash or sanitise their hands before and after visiting the book swap shop, and form an orderly queue, in accordance with social distancing measures, if necessary.