Eastbourne signal box to be preserved

Eastbourne signal box
Eastbourne signal box

Eastbourne signal box is one of 11 in the south east listed in a joint English Heritage and Network Rail project.

Eleven of the rarest and best preserved signal boxes have been given Grade II listed status by the Department for Culture Media and Sport as a result of a joint project to safeguard the nation’s railway signalling heritage.

The listings come as Network Rail decommissions many mechanical signal boxes to consolidate signalling into 12 regional centres, as part of a 30-year plan to modernise the system and provide a better value railway for Britain.

Heritage Minister Ed Vaizey said, “Our interest in everything to do with trains and railways and the ‘golden age’ of steam in particular is one of our most endearing and enduring national preoccupations.

Signal boxes are a big part of this and so I am very pleased indeed to be able to list these lovely examples of the type. It is greatly to Network Rail’s credit that they have worked so constructively with English Heritage to bring this project to such a successful outcome.”

The 11 newly listed signal boxes in the region include Rye and Littlehampton.

Installed from the mid-19th century onwards, signal boxes numbered around 10,000 at the peak of their use in the 1940s. Today, fewer than 500 are still in use by Network Rail.

They were built in highly visible spots at stations or level crossings to an infinite variety of designs, sometimes with beautiful detailing and embellishment far beyond what is needed for their practical function.

They were constructed both by specialist contractors like Saxby & Farmer and individual railway companies, each developing their own distinctive style.