I live in a small hamlet between the parishes of Deeping St James and Crowland. This was once described by a local resident as “the pimple on the bum of Deeping” but it is in fact more accurately described these days as “Deeping’s little beauty spot”.
It is an area that displays, with pride, a local community living and enjoying rural England at its best. We have a large wildlife area, owned and maintained by Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, specifically designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. This site is protected and cared for, primarily by volunteers, for the pleasure and enjoyment of the local community. The SSI site actually begins at the level crossing near us – ‘St James Deeping’ and extends to the Wetland bank. Permission has to be gained from the Environmental Agency even to trim the foliage near the track because of the wildlife it supports here.
The name on the signal box ‘St James Deeping’ is only recorded here, as all the other local signage refers to the village as Deeping St James. This station was one of the Beeching closures in the 60s but a service does run along this track several times a day from Spalding to Peterborough. The crossing is a manned crossing, controlled from a signal box built in the 1850s and is a valued and respected item in our local community.
Network Rail is now planning to demolish this historic signal box to install automatic barrier control. This will be another part of our English Heritage lost forever. Upsettingly, news of this proposed demolition was not well publicised and it is only now, as we near the demolition date in November, that the public are beginning to realise what is proposed. I believe the local parish council were advised of the plans but this was not public and they were advised that Network Rail could not save the box.
As residents for this area and for the local community, we feel that every effort should be made to save this historic building, before it is too late and another part of our heritage is lost forever. Possibilities that have to be raised are re-adjusting the road layout to accommodate the box, while major road works are already planned, or using a single barrier instead of the proposed double barriers. Extra land is available to make the adjustments and feeling is strong that every effort should be made to save what little remains of sites like these.
We all appreciate that progress needs to be made but consideration also should be taken for things of value from the past; decisions made by faceless individuals should take into account our countryside and our heritage before the only memories we have are left faded photographs and handed down stories of what life used to be like.
We, as a community in the Deepings are, at the moment, fighting to save our library – what else must we lose to developers and modernisation?
Our actions are the beginning of making people in power aware of the strong feelings we have over this demolition and we would value your support in this matter and help us to retain a small, but important part of rural life, before it is just a memory and people in future generations blame our generation for failing to show a pride in our past. Once destroyed, these buildings cannot be rebuilt, so they fade from memory – another part of our proud English heritage lost.
Deeping St James