Deeping signal box restoration takes major step forward
A campaign to restore the historic Deeping St James signal box has taken a major move forward.
The 1876-built signal box was demolished in 2014 to make way for new electric crossing gates as part of a £280 million modernisation of the Great Northern and Great Eastern joint line between Peterborough and Doncaster.
Yesterday, the concrete footings were laid at a nearby site in the village, where campaigning residents plan to erect an information and heritage centre using the remains of the former signal box.
Following campaigns from the community, Network Rail saved the remnants of the structure and stored them in containers in a nearby farmer's field.
The signal box is considered to be of immense local historical importance to villagers as it carried the original name of the village.
Their campaign attracted the support of local MP Sir John Hayes, whose efforts helped secure a government grant to allow a new site for the signal box to be bought near to the stationmaster's house on Station Road.
Sir John also took part in the cutting of the first sod for the relocated signal box last March.
Stuart Hall, chairman of the St James Signal Box Group, recalled how villagers were angry when Network Rail demolished the signal box.
But their campaigning secured funding for land to be bought nearby and for it to be re-erected, though further funding is still needed.
Stuart, a parish councillor, said: "We are in the process of rebuilding. It's taken a long time as we are all volunteers.
"The big step is to get the footings in. The concrete went in yesterday. It was a dry day and a dry night. It went well."
Stuart says the project has received much support from all kinds of local businesses, groups and individuals.
He continued: "We have absolutely everything from the signal box, right through to the toilet seat. They were going to bulldoze it away. We managed to save everything."
The campaigners plan to start rebuilding the signal box early next week.
They will be helped by the construction department of Stamford New College, which has already repaired or rebuilt some windows and some of the road gate which were starting to rot away.
Stuart hopes the signal box will be be complete by the end of this year, with its roof and walls erected.
"Then, next year, we will open it as a heritage and information centre."
But funding remains 'a problem' despite the project receiving so much support to date.
Support would be welcome for scaffolding work, especially, which is expected to cost £5,000.
Anyone who can provide support in cash or kind is asked to ring Stuart on 01778-342218.