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Safeguarding future of historic listed signal box in Plumpton

The signal box in Plumpton.

The signal box in Plumpton.

A campaign is under way to safeguard the future of an historic railway signal box.

The Grade II Listed structure has stood at Plumpton Station for more than 120 years, but will become redundant later this year.

Network Rail will be introducing a new automated barrier for vehicles crossing the rail line in the village.

It means the Victorian crossing gates will be replaced – and what lies ahead for the signal box is under review.

Various options have been presented to Plumpton Parish Council. Two of them involve Network Rail retaining ownership, either directly or via a lease to an outside organisation.

The other is for it to be donated to a local group or charity, if one could be set up and seen as a viable enterprise.

Which is where local resident and railway enthusiast David Holmes comes in. He is seeking to set up a Heritage Group to safeguard the signal box and the crossing gates for the community.

Network Rail has stipulated that the building, which is understood to date from the 1890s, would have to be maintained to the “high standard expected by Lewes District Council and English Heritage”.

Mr Holmes, a former parish councillor, is hoping the signal box could serve as a community asset in the future. He understands Network Rail may require some sort of facility still avilable to them at the station on busy days at Plumpton Racecourse.

He said: “Due to the proximity of the box to the rail track, Network Rail would need to provide security fencing and would have to be informed when maintenance work was required to the line side of the box exterior.

“Apart from that, the cost of maintenance and funding the presence of Network Rail staff during work on the box will be significant and will require some very active fundraising.

“I intend to write to English Heritage about the project as it could well be something of real interest to them.

“If we could get their backing in terms of inclusion in their portfolio of properties, it becomes very feasible.

“It would open up possibilities of grants being available and it could be managed by the local Heritage Group. It would also put the Group under the class of a charity.”

Mr Holmes continued: “The crossing gates themselves would need to be relocated and there is the possibility of a position to the east of the box.

“We have already received Network Rail’s agreement to leave what is left of the interior fitments in situ – mainly the lever frame and wheel.” He can be contacted by emailing dc712holmes@btinternet.com

 

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