THE BEECH village book exchange was officially opened before Christmas by parish council chairman, Graham Webb, and crime writer Graham Ison.

Both Grahams have been residents of Beech for more than 20 years.

Following the reading of an ode Lines on the grand opening of the Beech telephone box book exchange, in the style of the poet William McGonagall, Cllr Webb officially unveiled the former phone box, as Mr Ison opened its door for the first time.

Beech has become the latest Hampshire village to restore its phone box to its natural glory, following weeks of hard work by residents, who will be encouraged to operate a ‘one-in, one-out’ policy in order to keep a regular and fresh supply of books.

The initial stock of around 175 books has been sourced by the generous contribution of Beech residents and is being managed by local ‘librarían’ Katie Smallman.

Nick Sorby, project manager and chief architect of the plan, said: “This has been a great community project led by Beech Village Hall.

“We’ve had huge support from local volunteers including professional carpenter Sam Kemp, and painter and decorator Peter Lemon.

“The box was completely overgrown with ivy and in a very sorry state. It’s now totally refurbished, fitted out with bookshelves and ready for its new life as the Beech Book Exchange. Access is easy from the village hall car park”.

Cllr Webb described the work as “the finest cultural achievement in the past 20 years” in Beech.