Offbeat Video

By Helen Le Caplain


A creative pensioner has spent 70 hours transforming a decommissioned telephone box into a musical Christmas display – complete with a moving Santa that plays tubular bells.

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John Broscombe has dedicated at least an hour a week since last January planning and creating this year’s spectacle in the phone kiosk which was snapped up seven years ago for £1.

The 81-year-old dad of two said he was inspired to create the mini musical extravaganza in Upper Hopton, West Yorks, by a bent marquee pole which rang out as he tried to hammer it back into shape.

After spending hours on the project John, a former scientific instrument engineer, said the look on the children’s faces when they clap eyes on it makes all his efforts worthwhile.

John from Mirfield, West Yorks, said: “The kids really love it and that makes it so worthwhile.

“Last year a lady came up to me at the carol service and said how much she loved the display which was really nice.

“I’ve been retired more than ten years but you never lose the skills you pick up in early life, it’s great fun and working on it is better than watching TV.

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“I’d spend at least an hour a week working on it but sometimes I would stay longer in my shed if I got nice and warm while it was cold and wet outside.

“I lost my wife eight years ago, if she was still with us no way would she let me spend that amount of time on it.”

John, whose family have lived in Mirfield for six generations, said he was inspired to include tubular bells after trying to straighten a marquee ten pole that had buckled.

John said: “I got the idea quite by accident. We have carols at the centre of the village every year. We had a marquee up and one of the poles bent.

“I grabbed one of the poles that was bent to see if I could straighten it. I hit it and it rang out quite sweetly and sounded just like a tubular bell.

“I knew if I could work out the lengths they would need to be then I could get a full octave.”

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John crafted an eight-inch tall articulated Father Christmas out of wood and springs powered by rechargeable 12v car batteries.

Building it this way means Saint Nick appears to be able to pull a bell rope which is responsible for the tune it plays.

John said he feels a sense of relief when he gets the display in place and it works.

John said: “When it’s finally finished I feel five per cent satisfaction and 95 per cent good honest relief.”