Last-ditch attempt to save signal box

Signal Box last train, St James Deeping'Crowd watch as last train past box hoots ANL-141023-074302009
Signal Box last train, St James Deeping'Crowd watch as last train past box hoots ANL-141023-074302009

A final protest was held at the signal box in Deeping St James this week in a last attempt to stop Network Rail taking it down.

More than 30 campaigners, who fought to retain the historic signal box, gathered at the site on Wednesday night to witness the last passing train before the 150 year old structure was due to be decommissioned.

Campaigners stood with their Save our Signal Box sign and spelled out their motto with pumpkins that lit up the night sky.

Their final stand follows a last-ditch effort to stop demolition of the Victorian box, when the campaign was taken to the heart of Government on Friday October 17.

Deepings MP John Hayes (Con) hosted a meeting in his Downing Street office when three members of Deeping St James Parish Council made an impassioned plea to senior Network Rail officials to save the box.

Network Rail refused to alter their plans, insisting the signal box was in the way of modernisation plans at the Station Road crossing.

But they agreed to ‘sensitively deconstruct’ the signal box and carefully store it on pallets so it can be rebuilt as a museum if funding can be secured.

Lincolnshire county councillor Phil Dilks (Lab) said: “This is an important commitment as it means that the box can be rebuilt exactly as it is now.

“Once again, the community has shown that when those of all parties and none work together, we can make a difference.

“We’ve stopped Network Rail destroying a valued piece of local history, but there’s still a lot to do to ensure this is not the end of the line for our signal box.”

Mr Hayes, who called on Network Rail to “rebuild the box on railside land” said: “Sadly, we were unable to persuade Network Rail to leave the signal box where it has served for 150 years.

“But I will continue to work with them and with the Deeping St James community to try to get it rebuilt for future generations.”

But in a final attempt on Wednesday to save the signal box hours before it was due to be taken down, Mr Hayes managed to get the Minister for Rail, Claire Perry and the Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, Savid Jarvid to write a letter to National Rail to hold off on decommissioning until there’s an agreement with the local community about the future of the signal box.

National Rail is yet to respond but it was not taken down on Wednesday as planned.