These amazing photographs show two of the UK's 'telephone box graveyards' where the iconic British symbols are sent to get a new lease of life.
The rows and rows of rusted red telephone boxes which no longer ring may create a strikingly sad image but luckily these decommissioned symbols of Britain, as iconic as fish and chips or the Queen, have not been sent to die or decompose.
Instead they are taken to 'telephone box graveyards' where they are lovingly rejuvenated - and as these stunning images show, the vision of row upon row of boxes waiting patiently can be quite remarkable.
Mike Shores, 80, of Carlton Miniott, Yorks, spent the best part of his career creating a place in the grounds of his home for the kiosks to await their afterlife abroad with a loving collector or as a bold statement in a British garden.
Until he retired just two years ago staff at his village garage would devote 100 hours of tender loving care to each booth - stripping them, repainting them in the red once stipulated by the General Post Office and putting in new glass to restore them to their former glory.
Mike said: 'People don't realise how long it takes to restore them properly. Some people just repaint them but we would do everything. It was a labour of love.
'They are real collectors' items. We never advertised, it was all just done by word of mouth, but we'd have people coming to buy them all the way from America.
'They were fanatics and some people might call them nuts. But some people just like old things and I like old things.
'They are gradually disappearing and the new ones don't have the same character. It is such a shame because they are pieces of history.'
Amateur snapper and retail worker Guy Hatton, from Rochester, Kent, went to Carlton Miniott, North Yorkshire to pay his respects to these pillars of British Telecom's history and immortalise them in his own way with a series of magnificently melancholy shots.
The 55-year-old said: 'I saw them first driving past with my partner but didn't have my camera so I went back, which is something I never do. It is very rare I see something and think I must go back.
'I loved the effect of the way they are all laid out. I'm all about shapes and patterns, that's what interests me the most.
'It's interesting to see things that are so iconic at the end of their life. It is quite sad and there is almost a sense of bereavement like something has died or been put out to pasture.
'But it is so reassuring to know they are going onto their second life.'
These booths have featured in art installations over the world and have been used as green houses, mobile phone charging ports, house defibrillators, mini libraries and even a coffee shop in Brighton.
They sell for between £2,000 and £10,000 once fully restored and the price can shoot up for older designs such as 1920s model K2.
The K2 was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott as part of a competition in 1924 and much of his inspiration was drawn from Sir John Soane's mausoleums in St Pancras' Old Churchyard, London.
The largest active 'telephone box graveyard' is owned by Unicorn Restorations, near Merstham, Surrey, where around 70 kiosks are currently laid to rest.
Professional snapper Nicolas Ritter, 30, who now lives in Berlin, visited the yard back when he was just starting out as a photographer's assistant in 2012.
He said: 'Being at the telephone graveyard was a great experience for me. It felt like a journey back into the history of the country as the phone boxes are such a unique symbol of British culture.
'Viewing this museal location now after the beginning of a new age of communication the phone graveyard bears a mystic vibe of a past era.'
2. Dumping subway trains into the ocean ... in a good way
Over 2,500 New York subway cars have been used to create an underwater reef for crustaceans and fish in the Atlantic.
Over a period of three years, photographer Stephen Mallon of the Front Room Gallery captured images of the carriages being put in place, and his photos now are being shown in a solo exhibition in New York.
"I had read about the subway cars being dropped into the Atlantic, but I thought the project was over," said Mallon. "Then in 2007 I was scouting for another shoot and saw the barges being loaded up."
Once the subway cars had been decommissioned, they were cleaned and every part of them that could be removed -- seats, straps and wheels -- was recycled or sold. Then the carriages were stacked onto a barge, which transported them to the dropping point.
A hydraulic lift picked them up and dropped them one at a time into the ocean about once a month, destined to become a long line of houses for sea life along the coast from Delaware to South Carolina.
"I had never seen anything like this," Mallon said. "And I've been in New York for over 20 years ... there's a sense of vertigo as they drop -- you want to hold on as it falls." The 42-year-old has an ongoing project entitled American Reclamation that explores the recycling industry in America.
Mallon captured his images from a small boat facing the barge in locations including Delaware, Virginia and South Carolina.
Some cars have also been dropped in Georgia, although not all site locations are disclosed to the public, as some are used for ecological studies.
The project, run by New York's Metropolitan transit authority, ended in 2010. But the carriages have a new life beneath the sea.
"We've been monitoring the carbon steel subway cars and they are holding up well," said Jeffrey Tinsman, artificial reef program manager at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
"They are still three dimensional, and provide thousands and thousands of square feet of hard surface for invertebrates to live on, some of which, such as blue mussels, could not live on the sand bottom that is naturally there."
"When you compare the amount of food available on this reef to the natural amount, there is 400 times as much food per square foot as the sand bottom," Tinsman continued.
"Fish such as black sea bass are not fast swimmers, so need structure to provide both food and shelter; they wouldn't, for example, be able to outswim a shark, but they could duck into the shelter instead."
Stephen Mallon's works are featured in the solo exhibition Patterns of Interest at NYU's Kimmel Galleries from February 6 to March 15.
3. A strange graveyard where N.J.'s tollbooths go to die
It's the place where tollbooths go to die.
Here lie the steel-and-glass boxes of toll lanes past.
"They call it the Tollbooth Graveyard," said Bob Quirk, who has spent a career in and around tollbooths, first as a collector who breathed fumes and made change at Exit 14C on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1978, and now as director of tolls for the Turnpike and Parkway.
As they decide whether to hit the cash or E-ZPass express lanes, drivers wouldn’t necessarily notice the resting place for tollbooths in the shadows of the busy plaza.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which oversees the Parkway and Turnpike, will one day have to figure out what to do with the highway boxes that became casualties when one-way tolling arrived on certain sections of the Parkway.
For now, similar to a dearly departed organ donor providing body parts for the still-living, tollbooths in the graveyard can be scavenged by Parkway maintenance workers for, among other useful parts, their windows and air conditioning and stainless-steel "Dutch doors" that were at the waist level of toll collectors.
In addition, some of the 32 tollbooths in the graveyard could be resurrected with new paint and parts if other toll booths on the Parkway become severely damaged.
"If, God forbid, something were to happen to the toll plaza and a whole booth went out or something, it would be easy to rig one of these up to put in," said Tom Feeney, a spokesman for Turnpike Authority.
THE FUTURE OF TOLLING
The plan is to eventually go to all-electronic tolling on the Parkway, perhaps as soon as summer 2013, eliminating manned tollbooths.
Could the instantly recognizable symbols of what George Carlin called "The Tollbooth State" be used for scrap metal? Barrier reefs?
Tree houses for kids? Sold on eBay to nostalgic New Jerseyans, like baseball fans who bought their old seats at Yankee Stadium.
"At some point, when we switch to all-electronic tolling and this will no longer be necessary, then there will be a decision made on how to dispose of them," Feeney said from the yard. "And by dispose, I don’t necessarily mean throw out — a decision will be made at that point on what to do with them."
Many of the graveyard booths ended up there in 2004 and 2005, when the Parkway started going to one-way tolling at certain plazas. Going to one-way tolling helped the flow of traffic by stopping travelers only in one direction instead of both directions, and also made it cheaper to administer the plazas because fewer transactions were necessary.
Other booths were brought to the yard when express E-ZPass lanes arrived.
The ones that made it to the yard were portable ones — some were previously bolted into pre-cast concrete — that were able to be lifted by a crane and trucked away. But they were in the minority.
"The original Parkway booths are all built into the plaza structure, so when they come down, they knock them down like they’re knocking down a building," Feeney said.
Most of the corpses in the yard were from "branch lanes" — booths accessed by the far right lanes and set aside from the rest of the toll plazas, as a way to make better use of the limited lane capacity.
But among the dearly departed are five booths that were never used.
In the 1990s, officials decided to add tolls to five exit ramps in Ocean County. The new booths were delivered to the yard next to the Asbury tolls, then moved as needed. Because the decision was eventually made not to toll the Barnegat ramp at the time, those booths never left the yard.
A walk through the graveyard is a trip back in time. Some of the booths have signs noting that the toll was 35 cents. In 2008, 35-cent tolls became 50 cents. On Jan. 1, those 50-cent tolls became 75 cents, as tolls were increased another 50 percent on the Parkway.
Other signs on the rusting booths — taken from plazas in Eatontown, Asbury Park, Raritan North, Toms River and Union — included "NO PENNIES PLEASE" on the outside and reminder signs next to switches for toll collectors such as "FAN RECEPTACLE," "BOOTH LIGHT ‘A’ LEVEL 1" and "CYCLE RESET."
On one side of the yard was part of a telephone. The remainder of the phone was on the other side.
A stray rubber glove was in one of the 8-foot-by-3-foot-booths, along with old receipts, pamphlets and an empty cash till.
Ironically, the yard was originally a place where new tollbooths were delivered before they were put in service.
"It started as a place to store tollbooths that were just arriving," Feeney said. "Now, it’s a place where we store tollbooths that are on their way out."
4. A bright and colorful link to Las Vegas's past
Miles from the blinking marquees of the Las Vegas Strip, this is where neon signs go to die.
In a city that hums of impulse and overstimulation, where investors flock to what's hot and new and visitors empty their wallets at the promise of instant entertainment, the three-acre lot that displays relics from classic Las Vegas buildings offers a rare opportunity for retrospection.
Now, after years as a hidden memorial open only to a few, the 15-year-old collection has announced plans to open a fully operating museum in 2011 and an adjacent public park later this month.
As Las Vegas casinos increasingly adopt LED and LCD screens, the expanded Neon Boneyard will allow visitors to regularly tour a unique tribute to a city known for periodically bulldozing its past.
The remote yard features signs from historic wedding chapels, used car lots and prohibition speakeasies. An oversized billiards player clad in bellbottoms stands near a massive skull that recently haunted tourists at the Treasure Island casino and hotel. A few steps away, the looping, 40-foot moniker from the Moulin Rouge is all that remains of Las Vegas' first integrated casino. A mishmash of neon stars and futuristic letters similarly acknowledge the now imploded Stardust hotel and casino, whose cosmic sign was once synonymous with Las Vegas glitz.
For Elvis Presley fans, a gold lamp is a rare artifact from the extinct Aladdin casino, where Presley and Priscilla Ann Wagner married in 1967.
"It's uniquely American," said Susan Shaw, a 50-year-old New York artist who stops by the Neon Boneyard whenever she is in Las Vegas. "There is something about this shady, shameless self-promotion. It's like, 'Here we are, we are open for business.'"
Neon signs were introduced to the United State at the 1893 World Fair in Chicago. But no city embraced the luminous tube lights quite like Las Vegas, where gambling moguls, mob bosses and even mom-and-pop storefronts covered the desert in enough neon to outshine New York's Times Square.
"There was so much neon you could walk down the street reading a newspaper at night," said Bill Marion, the museum's board chairman.
Acclaimed architect Robert Venturi's ode to Las Vegas in 1977 captured it well: "What was Rome to the pilgrim, Las Vegas is now for the gambler. In Rome they could walk from church to church, the Obelisks and Piazzas were guiding them. In Las Vegas we can go from casino to casino, guided by the signs and symbols."
His tome helped spark the preservationist movement.
Volunteers became urban detectives, sniffing out demolition projects and rushing to construction sites to beg for doomed signs.
Developers and signmakers eager to preserve a piece of their work gradually began donating the signs to the collection. The Neon Boneyard officially opened its doors in 1996.
"Really, we do implode and recreate ourselves all the time," said Nancy Deaner, a Boneyard founder and manager of the city's cultural affairs office. "People thought, 'why wouldn't we want to preserve our cultural icons, which are these signs?'"
Until the museum opens next December, volunteers offer twice-daily tours. But tickets, at $15 each, must be reserved at least two weeks in advance. Otherwise, the gates are locked.
The unusual shapes and forms of the yard have been splashed across Harper's BAZAAR magazine and a music video featuring The Killers. Hundreds of couples, engaged or newly married, pose for pictures there every year.
The collection also includes a historic building.
The owner of the La Concha Motel on the Las Vegas Strip announced in 2003 that he was going to replace the 1960's hotel with a larger model, effectively condemning the landmark's shell-shaped lobby to a bulldozer.
Preservationists intervened and in December 2006 the swooping structure was sliced into eight pieces and moved next to the Neon Boneyard to provide the seeds of the museum's expansion.
As a first step, the menagerie of dusty plexiglass, fluorescent bulbs and crunched steel was temporarily shuttered in February and its 150 vintage signs were arranged for the first time by era to create a chronological narrative. Some of the signs will eventually be lighted again.
5. THE AIRPLANE GRAVEYARD IN THE MOJAVE DESERT WHERE ALL PLANES GO TO DIE...
Victorville, California. Odds are if you've never driven between Los Angeles and Las Vegas you've never been anywhere near it. Why would you? The scorching conditions which have inspired many a Western movie are far better suited for airplanes than people. When a new plane comes into service it receives the water cannon salute, gets a big birthday cake and passengers have a mini party celebrating the new marvel of aviation. With every beginning comes an end. As the new plane takes excited passengers to a thriving city, the plane that used to make the flight takes off, with empty cabin for a destination where no one is waiting. For most planes, Victorville is the final stop.
All those glorious old jumbos just weren't made for todays world and before their 20th birthday, most will be retired. It's not all doom and gloom for aircraft arriving at Victorville however. Well maintained planes have much to offer and you never know which cheap world leader or airline upstart would rather buy a reliable used bird than something fresh off the lot. In many cases, even though the frame will never fly again, the "guts" of the plane can be very valuable on something new. The circle of life I suppose. If you want to feel this experience in the best way possible other than physically going, watch this video. it's fantastic.
If you've seen the movie Independence Day starring Will Smith as a fighter pilot defeating the alien race single handedly you know that beautiful old jumbo jets aren't the only thing to be found in Victorville. Sadly, due to the fact that the facility is part of a semi top secret air force base visitation is extremely limited. I must say, the video certainly did the trick for me. How about that salute from ATC? Nearly (does) get a tear every time.
6. World’s biggest tyre graveyard: Incredible images of Kuwaiti landfill site that is home to SEVEN MILLION wheels and so huge it can be seen from space
In Kuwait City's Sulaibiya area every year gigantic holes are dug out out in the sandy earth and filled with old tyres - there are now over seven million in the ground.
The expanse of rubber is so vast that the sizable indents on the earth are now visible from space.
It is thought the tyres are from both Kuwait and other countries which have paid for them to be taken away - four companies are in charge of the disposal and are thought to make a substantial amount from the disposal fees.
The European landfill directive means that this type of 'waste disposal would be illegal in Europe - since 2006 EU rules have banned the disposal of tyres in landfill sites, leaving about 480,000 tonnes of recyclable shredded rubber each year
In Britain all car and truck tyres must be recovered, recycled and reused.
Currently, more than 80 per cent of the 55 million used tyres generated in Britain are processed via the Responsible Recycler Scheme.
The scheme ensures full traceability and accountability of waste tyres throughout the disposal chain, from collection through to their final reuse in an environmentally friendly or acceptable method.
Materials from properly recycled tyres are used for a variety of uses including a children’s playground, running tracks, artificial sports pitches, fuel for cement kilns, carpet underlay, equestrian arenas and flooring.
Bales of tyres can be used in the construction of modern engineered landfill sites and flood defences. If waste tyres are in good condition, they can be re-moulded and put back on the road as ‘re-treads’.
In 2010, just over 30 per cent of waste tyres were turned into crumb, 18 per cent were used in energy recovery, nearly 20 per cent were re-used (in the UK or abroad), 16 per cent were specifically used in landfill engineering and 11 per cent were re-treaded, according to the Environment Agency.
In some circumstances tyres are shipped out to countries such as India, Pakistan and Malaysia, but there are strict laws about their exportation.
The Environment Agency says 'While there is a legitimate export market for quality recyclable material, the illegal export of waste undermines law-abiding disposal and tyre recovery businesses here in the UK and risks harming people and the environment in the country the waste is exported to.'
Last month it emerged that recycled car tyres could soon be used to surface roads across the country after a pioneering trial found they made roads quieter.
One of the busiest roads in Scotland was resurfaced last year with the asphalt, containing shredded rubber from old tyres.
Tests were performed on grip and skid resistance, with engineers reporting that the rubber road, on a stretch of dual carriageway between Perth and Dundee, resulted in a quieter drive.
Experts claim the road requires less maintenance and still allows for drainage, while tyre recyclers claim the technique will also save money because the new material is thinner than standard roads.
Rubber roads were first built in the 1960s in the US, where today there are 20,000 miles of road made of recycled tyres.
Rubber roads are also popular in China, Brazil, Spain and Germany. The technique has been found to cut traffic noise by about 25 per cent.
The asphalt is made by breaking down used tyres into rubber ‘crumbs’ which are added to bitumen and crushed stone, which are typically used to make asphalt.
Last year a fire broke out in a Kuwait tyre dump which was so big that it could be seen from space.
The fire broke out on April 17 at a tire dump near Al Jahrah.
It is believed that around five million tires fuelled the fire which specialists struggled to control. Hundreds of firefighters as well as soldiers and employees of the Kuwait Oil Company took part in the efforts to extinguish the blaze.
A number of MPs described the fire as an 'environmental catastrophe' and vowed to demand a debate on the issue in a special parliamentary session Some said they will demand an official probe.
A month later another fire broke out at an Amghara scrapyard and firefighters from six stations were drafted into help.
Tyre fires are difficult to extinguish - they produce a lot of smoke, which often carries toxic chemicals from the breakdown of rubber compounds while burning.
7. Amsterdam's bicycle purgatory
Amsterdam has a population of about 700,000 and an estimated one million bikes. Officially sanctioned parking lots are always full, and the streets are clogged with illegally parked bikes. Theft is a constant issue.
The Fietsdepot outside of Amsterdam's Central Station holds bikes that were removed by the city. In 2012, the depot received more than 65,000 bikes of all shapes and sizes and holds about 12,000 and 17,000 at a time. Each once is scanned and entered into a database, with details like color, engravings, serial numbers and site of removal, then labeled with a letter and number according to the day and location of removal. Workers then cross check with local police to see if the bike was stolen.
Bikes are kept here for three months in an outdoor field. 40% of people do eventually retrieve their property, but unclaimed bikes are auctioned off, sold for spare parts or shredded into scrap metal.
8. Suisun Bay's Famous Ghost Fleet About to Vanish
"The scale of it was quite impressive," said Ronn Patterson, who used to take tours to see the fleet aboard his Dolphin Charter cruises. "Just the number of ships was quite impressive."
At its high point, nearly 100 ships floated off the Benicia shoreline -- like massive museum pieces of military history. Its ranks included the tugboat Hoga, which raced to save soldiers and burning ships in the attack on Pearl Harbor. There was the USS Iowa, a WWII warrior that once carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
"Every ship was like a little textbook of history," Patterson said.
But following an environmental lawsuit in 2007, this once massive fleet has become a ghost itself. Only three of the original ships remain -- and soon they will be gone too.
"We discovered based on a government study, that vessels were putting about 20 tons of pollution into the bay," said Sejal Choksi-Chugh, executive director of BayKeeper which was among the environmental groups that sued the government over the ships' pollution.
Choksi-Chugh said paint chips from the decaying ships were flaking off into the Suisun Bay causing a hazard to fish and wildlife. As a result of the suit, Choksi-Chugh said the government began a program to regularly clean the ships. Even more significantly, it began removing the ships from Suisun Bay one by one -- towing them to industrial yards at nearby Mare Island and Brownsville, Texas, for scrapping.
"The Ghost Fleet of Suisuin Bay was pretty much an iconic tourist attraction," said Choksi-Chugh during a recent boat trip to visit the remaining ships. "It's too bad they were heavily polluting our San Francisco Bay."
Some of the ships survived to tell their tale. The Hoga was put on display at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. The USS Iowa became a floating museum at the Pacific Battleship Center in San Pedro, California. But most were unceremoniously dismantled and scrapped.
"I miss being able to talk about them because they were quite interesting," said Patterson, who curtailed trips to the fleet when their numbers dropped to a mere smattering.
On a recent day, Navy veteran Russ Munn leaned against the railing of the public marina in Martinez, craning to see the remaining ships floating off in the distance. He described the flotilla of retired vessels as sacred grounds for his fellow veterans.
"With my binoculars I could see the ships," Munn said. "I saw a couple of the same kind of ships I served aboard in the 1950s."
The last remaining Ghost Fleet ships include the Cape Breton, the Cape Blanco and the Cape Borda. They were surrounded by a scattering of ships still active as reserve vessels. Coksi-Chugh said the trio of old ships was set to be removed by the end of the coming year, bringing down the curtain on this unusual spectacle of maritime past.
"That's the end of the Ghost Fleet," she said.
Inside his tour boat in the Berkeley Marina, Patterson leafed through a folder filled with stories of many of the Ghost Fleet ships, which he used to read during his tours of the fleet. He closed the binder of papers and drifted off with the memory.
"There were always some amazing ships," Patterson said. "And some that may not have been amazing but were certainly interesting."