Warley Telephone Box Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

Warley Telephone Box Museum

Amy Irvine

12 Jun 2023
Image Credit: Chris and Paul Czainski

About Warley Telephone Box Museum

Nestled within the picturesque Calder Valley in Warley Town, West Yorkshire, lies the ‘world’s smallest museum’. Uniquely housed inside a repurposed BT telephone box, the Warley Museum has been attracting visitors since its opening in 2016.

History of Warley Telephone Box Museum

Initiated by the Warley Community Association (WCA), who ‘adopted’ the abandoned phone box for £1, the museum was brought to life through the creative vision of local artists Paul and Chris Czainski, who came up with the idea of transforming it into a museum. Drawing inspiration from their previous project, the ‘Museum of Curiosity’, a pop-up exhibition hosted in their own cottage during a local arts festival, they sketched out ideas and volunteered to manage the project.

The couple had resided in Warley for a decade, and had become fascinated with the village’s heritage. Their house is a converted church, and closely intertwined with the history of the area. Patrick Bronte, the father of renowned authors Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte, used to receive income from the rents of the neighbouring house.

Warley was also once home to Thomas Lister, a celebrated clockmaker responsible for maintaining the clock at St. Paul’s Cathedral, as well as James Oldfield, a member of the infamous ‘Cragg Vale Coiners’ gang, who was hung in York in 1770. The village has also been the home to notable residents like Wilfred Pickles, an English actor and broadcaster famous in the 1960s.

Their dedication to preserving and showcasing the village’s rich history has transformed the phone box into a treasure trove of exhibits, featuring displays of memorabilia themed around aspects of Warley history and prominent local figures.

The museum officially opened on 8 October 2016, attracting widespread media coverage.

Warley Telephone Box Museum today

Although it can only accommodate a maximum of 2 visitors at a time, the Warley Museum has yet to be acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s smallest museum, but its small stature has had an impact on the local community.

The exhibitions are rotated every 3 months, and feature a diverse range of themes. Past exhibitions have showcased local Yorkshire fossils, antique medical instruments, and a collection of cooking utensils. The phone box also organised an exhibition to celebrate King Charles III’s coronation, which became a collaborative community effort. Other exhibitions are planned to shed light on witchcraft and healing.

Although the museum is clearly labelled, many visitors initially mistake it for an ordinary phone box.

Getting to Warley Telephone Box Museum

Warley Museum is situated in the centre of Warley village, at The Maypole Inn in the Calder Valley. Its opening hours are 8am-4pm.