Letter: Thanks for boost to signal box fight

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[Copy of letter sent to Deepings MP John Hayes] Dear Mr Hayes, First of all, thank you very much for attending our Public Meeting in Deeping St James on the evening of Tuesday, September 2nd, to support us in our campaign to save our 19th century signal box, which is threatened by improvements being carried out along the line by Network Rail.

The letter you read to us from the Ministry of Transport was a real boost to our campaign and to the morale of the meeting which was low after the proposals put forward as the only option by representatives of the company. Quite frankly it has been difficult to believe many of the statements made by the company as they have appeared to change from one conversation to the next. For example, at an initial meeting at the site, we were told that once the mechanics of the box were removed, it would crumble and be unsuitable for reconstruction; however, at Tuesday’s meeting we were told that their proposal would involve removing the mechanics for spare parts and that then the box would be sympathetically deconstructed, enabling us to rebuild on a site of our choosing.

We were then told that a hi-tech scanning system was to be installed, to protect the public should anything be on the track but when asked if a single barrier could be used instead of the proposed double barrier, we were informed that for safety reasons, a double barrier was needed as an escape route, should anything be on the track! Surely this begs the question of the high-tech scanner efficiency. Also, the corner of the box would give a false signal of obstruction. I am a retired electronics engineer and radar technician and know full well that the software controlling the scanning system covering the crossing could be modified to negate the corner of the box as an obstruction.

As time is short (approximately 6 weeks) to save this building, we are wondering if the box could have temporary listing for Grade 2 protection, as since our initial application through English Heritage (ref.1421751) was rejected, we have since been informed that this box is in fact, the only working Type 1 box on the Great Northern Railway. That is, our area.

This would be preserved by local interest to retain its history as a signal box for the benefit of future generations, provided Network Rail are not allowed to remove the working machinery. At the meeting we were informed by a railway enthusiast, that other disused boxes have remained intact with their mechanics just rusting away and never being used for replacement parts. Also other local groups would be interested, in it, such as Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, The Exotic Pet Refuge and the Deepings Heritage Group as a centre for information.

As you are aware from your visit, feelings in this community are high in support for this campaign. We have now had extensive media coverage through TV, radio and the newspapers and have in excess of 2,000 signatures on-line or on paper.

We owe our young people this opportunity to see the beauty and magic of our rail history before modern technology rips our country of true craftsmanship.

Once again, we thank you for your support and the boost you have given to our campaign and look forward, with your influence, to saving a small part of our country’s heritage.

Stuart and Lynda Hall

Station Road,
Deeping St James,
Peterborough