DCSIMG

Showdown planned over signal box fight

A public meeting about the future of St James Deeping signal box is to take place next week after campaigners such as Richard Brader and Katherine Clare (front) secured hundreds of names in support through online and paper petitions.

A public meeting about the future of St James Deeping signal box is to take place next week after campaigners such as Richard Brader and Katherine Clare (front) secured hundreds of names in support through online and paper petitions.

Campaigners fighting to save a 19th century railway signal box from the bulldozers are to go public boosted by the response to an online petition.

More than 500 people have signed up to the Save St James Deeping Signal Box campaign, with hundreds more adding their names to paper petitions circulating across the Deepings.

Network Rail plan to demolish the signal box on Station Road as part of a £280 million modernisation of the Great Northern Great Eastern railway line between Doncaster and Peterborough.

But rail bosses’ resolve will be put to the test when outraged campaigners attend a public meeting at Deeping St James Scout Hut, Church Street, on September 2 at 7.30pm.

Karen Clare (44), of Deeping St James, one of those fighting Network Rail’s plans for the signal box, said: “A lot of people haven’t heard that the signal box is coming down so we’re hoping we’ll get a good turnout to give Network Rail a good kick up the backside.

“It might be just another signal box to them, but it’s our heritage and we’re checking everything we can to try and get them to change their minds.

“The response in the Deepings to the petitions going out has just been outstanding because we didn’t expect it to be so full on and everybody’s talking about it.

“There are plenty of volunteers who will keep the signal box up and running, we want it to stay in the village and we don’t want to lose it because once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.”

Another campaigner in the village, Stuart Hall (71), said: “We’re reasonably pleased by how the petition is going and we’ve written one or two more letters, including one to the Prime Minister (David Cameron).

“Network Rail says the signal box is in its way and they are going to bulldose it.

“But a lot of people in the village don’t want this to happen because it’s the gateway to Deeping St James.”

The public meeting has been organised by parish councillor Judy Stevens and county councillor Phil Dilks, with invitations being sent to both Network Rail and John Hayes, MP for South Holland and the Deepings.

Coun Stevens said: “It’s very typical of the people in the Deepings that they want to keep the signal box because, in the past, a lot of older buildings with great heritage have been lost.

“We were in danger of losing our library and we fought to keep it, so we really do want to draw a line in the sand and say ‘we’ve lost enough of our heritage and we’re not going to lie down and let you take any more.’”

Coun Dilks said: “We were so wound up with the library fight that the signal box plans almost passed us by.

“We don’t want to stand in the way of progress, but it’s all too easy to knock down a signal box and we’re hopeful that we can save it.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We are very much aware of the strength of feeling in the community about the signal box at St James Deeping and we have put significant resources into looking at all the options to preserve it.

“We are continuing to assess every realistic option available to us, within the scope of significant time constraints and in consideration of the difficulties posed by the structure itself.

“We remain in contact with members of Deeping St James Parish Council and residents about the signal box’s future, including the possibility of preserving materials from it and donating its nameplate to the parish council.”

 

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