Deeping St James signal box could be back in place within a year

Neil Mason with his painting of the signal box EMN-160714-121032001
Neil Mason with his painting of the signal box EMN-160714-121032001

A historic signal box which was dismantled brick-by-brick in 2014 could be rebuilt and in use as a heritage centre within the next 12 months.

People living in Deeping St James were angry when Network Rail demolished the building, which was built in 1876, to make way for new electric crossing gates.

The signal box pictured before it was dismantled

The signal box pictured before it was dismantled

As previously reported in the Mercury, a campaign was launched to get it rebuilt and now, after years of hard work by a dedicated team of volunteers, work will soon begin to reconstruct it.

Parish councillor Stuart Hall said a meeting will be held at the Waterton Arms in the next few weeks to update residents on the project.

He said: “It has taken a lot of time and effort to get to this stage but I’m delighted we now have Government funding lined up to purchase the land and planning permission has been granted for a site next to the train tracks and just slightly further along the line than its original location.

“It’s an important part of our heritage and I look forward to seeing it back in position.”

After being carefully dismantled, the signal box’s materials were put in storage by Network Rail.They are currently being held at a secure location by the St James Deeping Signal Box Group.

Plans for the reconstruction work are still being considered, but it is hoped the construction work will be carried out by skilled volunteers.

Students at New College Stamford have already refurbished four windows and are expected to be closely involved with future building work.

Fundraising work to help pay for reconstruction costs is continuing. Neil and Lacey Mason, who have just opened a model railway shop and workshop in Church Street, Deeping St James, have pledged their support.

Neil said a watercolour painting of the signal box, created by local artistPeter Scott, is up for grabs in a silent auction which will run until September.

He said: “Because of our location, and our interest in trains, we were keen to get involved with local campaign group.

“The painting is currently on display in our shop and we are hoping to get plenty of bids submitted over the next few months.”

Neil, 41, from Werrington, Peterborough, has been a fan of model railways since childhood. Until recently he was working as a manager at Perkins Engines, in Peterborough, but decided to take plunge and open a shop.

Neil added: “The shop sells model railway accessories and, in the workshop, we create bespoke layouts for customers all over the country. I was doing it in my spare time, but its my passion and now I’m full-time in the workshop.”

The auction can be entered at the shop, or by e-mailing littlelayouts@hotmail.co.uk