THEY once stood proudly as one of Britain's most iconic features, decorating high streets and village greens across the land.

Now in many areas the famous red paint on phoneboxes is fading, with the cast iron exterior too often graffitied.

Figures obtained by the Oxford Mail reveal that almost half of all working BT telephone boxes in the county were used for just two calls or less over a 12 month period.

Owner BT revealed that of the 235 working telephone boxes in Oxfordshire, about 30 were used just one or two times from October 2016 to October 2017.

During the same period, another 66 went without a single call.

Cherwell district councillor for Bicester East Sean Gaul has been calling for neglected booths to be cleaned-up and repaired to keep them from becoming eyesores.

He said: "We are seeing more and more phone boxes being vandalised and too often left with peeling banners and damage that goes unrepaired.

"It seems to me almost every single one I have seen is a mess and I know it is something that annoys residents."

Mr Gaul appealed to BT last year with concerns over neglected telephone boxes becoming targets for vandals and attracting rubbish.

He called for more to be done to deal with their upkeep.

The county currently has about 50 iconic red telephone boxes, with the rest made up of other types of BT kiosks.

But as the famous phoneboxes face extinction due to the use of mobile phones, some communities are saving them with ingenious conversions.

BT introduced its 'adopt-a-kiosk' scheme a few years ago in consultation with English Heritage after it became apparent that many – typically rural – communities no longer used the phone boxes but wanted to keep them as landmarks.

It meant that interested groups were able to take on the phonebox for their own creations for just £1.

In Oxford, a disused city centre phone box outside the Covered Market was set to be transformed into an 'office pod' complete with printer, scanner and wifi after getting approval for the changes in January 2017.

Across the county, 48 phone boxes have been adopted from BT by community groups and councils.

One of the most recent is the vintage red kiosk in Weston-on-the-Green, near Bicester – given a new lease of life as a phone box library.

With no library of their own and the mobile library service no longer visiting the village, residents fundraised to stock the phonebox with a host of books.

After getting funding from Sanctuary Housing's community investment fund to spruce it up, the TARDIS-like library was officially opened on January 13.

Weston-on-the-Green Village Hall Committee chairman Andrew Wilson said: "The phone box library is a wonderful addition to the village and we’re so grateful for the support from Sanctuary, the parish council and everyone in the community who has helped make this idea a reality."