The signal box at Deeping St James will be taken down overnight tomorrow (Wednesday, 22), after the last train passes through. Campaigners, who fought to retain the historic signal box, will gather at the site at 9.10pm to witness the last passing train before the 150 year old structure is decommissioned.
They are urging residents to come along and show their support for the campaign.
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.
John Hayes, MP for South Holland and The Deepings 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.
Coun Phil Dilks 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.”
Coun Judy Stevens said: “I hope as many people as possible will come down to the crossing to watch the final train pass by before the signal box is taken down. We need to show Network Rail that we won’t stop campaigning until we get this important part of our local heritage rebuilt.”
Coun Stuart Hall said: “Network Rail has not covered themselves in glory in demolishing the box. I’m convinced there’s viable future for the box to be rebuilt as a community asset.”
Coun Andy Pelling, chairman of Deeping St James Parish Council said: “We thank Network Rail for agreeing to the sensitive deconstruction but fear that without a suitable plot of land and the resources to rebuild this very attractive box, that extra effort could be in vain and thus ask them to go that one step further and help us to resurrect it in a suitably relevant location”.
Network Rail is upgrading the level crossing in the village. The manned gates in Station Road are being replaced with automatic barriers.
And as part of the work, the company say it needs to remove the 1850s signal box.
But for people living in the village, the signal box is a landmark which has the last remaining sign with the original name of the village St James Deeping.
More than 1,500 people signed a petition to save it.