The return of the Deepings’ landmark signal box is within touching distance after a deal was struck to buy land for its reconstruction.
A two-year fight to save St James Deeping Signal Box from the scrapyard has been effectively won, with campaigners now ready to assemble a task force to rebuild it once the funds from a land sale are in place.
Deeping St James United Charities is to buy the land from private ownership ready for a project team, drawn from the Deepings, South Kesteven and other parts of south-east Lincolnshire, to bring the signal box back to life.
Stuart Hall, chairman of the Support Our Signal Box Group whose members are leading the project, said: “The purchase of the land is now complete and the transfer of it to Deeping St James United Charities is in hand.
“This transfer will enable the group to have sufficient funds to start the rebuilding programme for which we would like to involve as many trades as possible.
“I will be meeting three builders at the site who said that they would be happy to work as project managers in due course and we’ll be contacting various charitable organisations to raise funds, as well as continuing our own fundraising.”
Much has been achieved to attain our goal of rebuilding the signal box and when it all starts, I’m sure we’ll get a lot of interest in itStuart Hall, chairman of the Support Our Signal Box Group, Deeping St James
The fight to save the 19th century signal box started in August 2014 after Network Rail revealed its intention to demolish it as part of a £280 million upgrade of the Great Northern Great Eastern line, connecting Peterborough to Lincoln.
With support from South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes and a £20,000 grant from the Government, campaigners were able to set up the Support Our Signal Box group to oversee the rebuilding programme.
Mr Hall said: “If we hadn’t have created a fuss, Network Rail would have just bulldozed it.
“But John Hayes has given us brilliant help from day, particularly in getting the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to start the project in the first place.
“Much has been achieved to attain our goal of rebuilding the signal box and when it all starts, I’m sure we’ll get a lot of interest in it.”
Mr Hayes said: “I was determined to save the signal box and I had several meetings with Network Rail, including some at 10 Downing Street when I was there as a Minister at the Cabinet Office.
“We fought hard to secure a grant to buy the land because it’s a very important, historical item in the village.
“I’m delighted that the land has been secured and that rebuilding work is going ahead because these sorts of structures define the places in which we live and they help to shape us as well.”