Signal box drive enters phase two with fresh plan to raise finances

John Hayes MP with Support Our Signal Box campaigners at The Waterton Arms, Deeping St James.  Photo by Tim Wilson.
John Hayes MP with Support Our Signal Box campaigners at The Waterton Arms, Deeping St James. Photo by Tim Wilson.

A project to rebuild a railway signal box in Deeping St James has entered phase two with a fundraising drive now being put together.

More than £21,000 is in place for the reconstruction of St James Deeping signal box after it was originally dismantled by Network Rail last October.

Supporters celebrated confirmation of a £20,000 heritage grant from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, plus funds raised by county councillor Phil Dilks and district councillor Judy Stevens, during a meeting on Tuesday.

Stuart Hall, chairman of St James Deeping Signal Box Support Group, said: “Our efforts are coming along very well and we’ve got lots of support for the progress we’re making in the rebuilding of the signal box.

“But there’s still a lot to do such as fundraising activities and sorting out the land on which to put the signal box back together.

“Network Rail still has the remains of the signal box in storage and we’re still in negotiations about the land.

“But the signal box has been saved and our campaign has gone from being one of Save Our Signal Box to Support Our Signal Box.”

Supporters were shown a letter from Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, also seen by the Free Press, which said: “I hear that a community group has been established with the aim of preserving the signal box at Deeping St James.

“Local heritage is important in making areas distinctive and unique, so it gives me great pleasure to offer your community group £20,000 in the 2015-16 financial year to help towards the reconstruction of the signal box.”

Mr Javid did warn that the grant was subject to “due diligence” and the preparation of a “final business case” for future use of the signal box.

But Government officials from the department would be able to help supporters put their case together for the grant.

Coun Stevens said: “One of the stipulations for the signal box to be rebuilt is that there has to be a properly-formed management committee and a proper fence erected around the signal box.

“But there’s a real interest from people who are enthusiastic about the signal box and who want to be actively involved in keeping it for the future.”

People can get involved in fundraising for the signal box by buying T-shirts and bricks, both at £10, to support the rebuilding project.

South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes said: “It’s significant that the Government has committed itself to the project in this way and I’m completely confident that the signal box will be rebuilt in the vicinity of where it was before.

“It will be available for future generations, both as a wonderful landmark and a community facility.”