About this image
This example of an Automobile Association phone box was situated on the north side of the A57 Snake Road, about 3.5 miles east of Glossop. To the rear of the box is the portion of Coldharbour Moor known as Higher Ridge, while out of shot down to the right is Holden Clough.
The A57 links Manchester with Sheffield via Glossop and is frequently blocked by snow, a fact that may well have influenced the installation of this isolated box. The highest portion of the road is the Snake Pass (512 metres or 1,680 feet above sea level) and the summit lies less than a mile beyond the location depicted here.
The AA first introduced what were sometimes termed 'lighthouses of the road' (because they were illuminated at night) in 1912, originally as shelters for their patrolmen. However, they were soon equipped with phones, a fire extinguisher, small fuel supply, first aid equipment, cleaning materials and local information. Members could access the boxes by means of a special key, issued when they joined the Association. Judging from its number (66) the Snake Box probably dated from the early 1920s. Patrols were encouraged to keep the environs of the boxes neat and tidy and the white-painted stones installed here to keep the moor at bay reflect that.
About 800 of these wooden sentry boxes were installed in total but they began to be phased out in 1968 and the AA decommissioned its last roadside phones in 2002 as a result of the widespread adoption of mobile phones. In 2012 19 disused boxes remained in situ on public roads, eight being Listed Grade II. The Snake Box did not survive and today its location is virtually undetectable.