New message in a bottle dispenser created for Fife village phone box

The message in a bottle machine.The message in a bottle machine.
The message in a bottle machine.
Beachcombers around Europe could soon be discovering little messages from an East Neuk village, thanks to a new phone box initiative.

A unique bespoke message in a bottle dispenser will be put in a Cellardyke phone box next year, giving residents and tourists the chance to send out their own notes.

The initiative is the brainchild of the Cellardyke Trust, which, upon learning that the village’s phone boxes were due to be removed three years ago, has been active in trying to find new uses for them.

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One has been transformed into a children’s library and art space.

Working out at plan for the harbour phone box, the team came up with the idea for the message in a bottle.

“We talked about the one in Cellardyke harbour,” said Richard Wemyss, chairman of the trust.

“Because it is a communication thing, we started to think about the message in a bottle idea.

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“The machine will dispense a wooden bottle. It’s flat and looks little a bottle. People will be able to put on their own messages and throw it out to sea.

“There will be an address and contact on. We will then keep an account of where they have been found.”

But how do you go about creating a dispenser that allows the public to do the same?

That is where local artist David Behrens stepped in.

He had been involved in other community projects and jumped at the chance to help out with the bottle project.

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David began working on the machine in May, but the project ended up taking longer than expected – 320 hours in total.

“As I progressed I realise how long it was going to take,” said David. “But it’s good to have a focus in lockdown.”

After months of work, David has finished his machine. Visitors will simply have to pull down a handle and then turn a ship’s steering wheel around 30 times. A music box will start up, playing along as the wheel is turned, and finish when it has been turned enough.

David has also painted his creation with local scenes, such as the Isle of May and the Reaper boat in Anstruther.

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“It was a challenge but all good fun,” he said. “It’s durable and will not break if someone does something wrong.”

To see a video of the machine, visit –

David will soon be opening his own Etsy online store and is open to commissions for similar projects.

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