SAVING AA BOX 472
BREAKING NEWS! NEW UPDATED WEB SITE
THE START OF IT ALL
AA Box No 472, A93, Cambus O'May, Nr Ballater, Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK.
Early July 2009
Automobile Association Box 472 ( Cambus O' May Box) can be found on the South kerb of the A93, Aberdeenshire, approx 4.5 miles East of the village of Ballater, 250 yards East of the Cambus O' May Hotel entrance and approximately 175 yards West of the B9119 turn off (see map below).
Box 472 is the only AA box within the Cairngorms National Park and one of only 8 to10 estimated to be remaining in situ within the United Kingdom.
The picture above was taken at the beginning of July 2009 and clearly shows the sad state of repair this famous landmark was in and this is where our story begins.
Box 472 on the A93 has been a famous landmark for travellers between Aberdeen in the East and Braemar in the West for well over 60 years and is situated in the heart of Royal Deeside, famous for its closeconnections with the British Royal Family and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in particular. Over those years the box has survived all the extreme weather the North East of Scotland could throw at it.
The AA began making such boxes around 1912, but the popular and long-sustained cross-gable roof design (pictured) was first developed in 1927, originally the boxes were known as sentry boxes and provided shelter from the elements for their patrolmen who rode motorcycles with a sidecar attached.
The first one erected was in 1911, these buildings were intended as shelters for road patrols. Over time, they came to be used by AA members.
A stranded motorist had nothing more to do than call and give the number of the kiosk, and help was on the way.
The easily recognized logo meant that a traveller could find a light, maps, fire extinguisher, and many other items whenever they were needed. Through to the year 1919, AA watchmen (who were called
sentries) manned the booths. They stood at the ready to serve any travelling member of the Automobile Association.
They provided roadside assistance, communication, directions, and even sometimes medical help or transport. In 1920 AA members received keys to call boxes for independent use.
When you joined the AA you got a key that fitted the lock in any of the telephone boxes. If your car broke down, you walked or hitched a ride to the nearest box, opened it up and called the AA for help. If it was raining or cold, you could stay out of the elements until help arrived.
The boxes were each individually numbered, about 1,000 in all at the height of the system's popularity, even if you did not know exactly where you were, you could say, "I'm calling from Box Number 472" and a patrolman would be dispatched to assist.
As the influx of mobile phones rendered the old AA roadside emergency boxes obsolete, most have completely disappeared due to neglect and a few have been declared listed buildings and usually restored by local volunteers for there has been no official restoration programme in operation at any time. It is estimated that there are around 8 to 10 boxes left in situ within the United Kingdom in varying states of repair.
Box 472 located within the Cairngorms National Park, on the main approach to the idyllic 'Royal Warrant' village of Ballater and being in an extremely poor state of repair it was thought by many local residents that the box was not offering the desired view that would and should be expected by tourists visiting Scotland, Aberdeenshire, Royal Deeside and a National Park.
As you will see from the pictures above and below taken at the beginning of July 2009 it was beginning to show serious signs of throwing in the towel, the area surrounding the box was also in dire need of some serious TLC.
Box 472 is a favourite and often referred to landmark for the residents of the local village of Ballater. Five interested residents of the village were spurred into action to save this important part of social history and hopefully extend its life beyond 2010/11. Expert opinion was sought and it was felt that if action were not taken the box would be beyond repair if it had to face another severe North East Scotland winter.
The following pages will tell the full story of how Team 472 achieved the results shown below...
Location of Box 472
BOX 472 OFFICIALLY LISTED BY
VISITING ROYAL DEESIDE?