Residents furious at demolition of Polegate signal box

Residents were upset after the Victorian signal box was demolished last week SUS-161121-100349001

Residents were upset after the Victorian signal box was demolished last week SUS-161121-100349001

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Residents are furious at the decision to demolish the historic level crossing signal box in Polegate town centre.

Last week Network Rail knocked down the structure, which had been around since 1883, due to it no longer being in use.

The building was thought to have been saved in February last year as it seemed Network Rail was close to agreeing to hand it over to the Polegate Signal Box Preservation Society to be made into a small railway museum.

But since then the company has said the location meant it was unsuitable for public use for safety reasons.

Michael Clewett, Chairman of Polegate Signal Box Preservation Society, said, “They have taken no notice whatsoever of the town’s history and heritage and have removed the last surviving Victorian railway building in the town.

“They have also ignored the fact that more than 700 people in the town signed a petition to have the box Listed.

“We feel there has been a stitch up to use common parlance. We have no idea what the motivation can have been unless it involved targets and bonuses.

“We believe we have been treated appallingly by Network Rail and deviously to boot.

“Our only consolation is that we have managed to save the contents of the interior, including the frame, and shall re-erect them elsewhere in the town in a suitable building to form an additional tourist attraction here.”

Network Rail spokesperson Chris Denham said, “Network Rail has removed Polegate signal box as it is no longer in use and control of the level crossing in the town is looked after by our route control centre at Three Bridges.

“We did look at the potential for leaving the box in place for public use, and we know it was a much-loved addition to the town, but unfortunately the location was just not suitable. Leaving the box where it is with no other use would have led to vandalism.

“We have agreed to keep some of the equipment from the box in secure storage until the local preservation society can look after it.”

Photo by Wilf Orange.

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