Signalling the end of an era in Polegate

Polegate Signal Box
Polegate Signal Box

A historic signal box which has been used on the line through Polegate since the 1800s directed its last train last week as it closed for good at the weekend.

Polegate Signal Box is being closed as part of a countrywide modernisation scheme.

Network Rail is moving all signalling around the country to 14 hubs.

The Express got behind a campaign by the Save our Signal Box group after fears it could be demolished.

The signal box was saved and Network Rail agreed to hand it over to the the Polegate Signal Box Preservation Society to be made into a small railway museum.

Mayor of Polegate and society chairman Michael Clewett said Network Rail agreed to meet him on Friday(February 13) at Polegate Town Hall to agree terms.

There was some concern about the transferal of the box to the community. Cllr Clewett said he had contacted Network Rail about the takeover but had no response.

He said: “The nightmare scenario is that we will wake up one morning to find a demolition crew there.”

The Express contacted Network Rail on the group’s behalf and Cllr Clewett said the organisation agreed to meet him.

He said: “This little building is the jewel in the crown of Polegate High Street, and I speak as an architect who has specialised throughout my career in listed and historic buildings. It is vital it is kept for the community and our proposal as a small railway museum dedicated to the original Brighton and South Coast Railway meet all Network Rail’s criteria for handing it over to us for this purpose.

“I come from a railway family dating back to the very first days of the railways in the 1830s. I am also Mayor here and consider it one of my duties to ensure the box is kept.

“They [Network Rail] have been in touch with me, confirmed I can have it, and I am to meet them in Polegate Town Hall on Friday to agree terms.”

A Network Rail spokeswoman said: “This weekend we’re carrying out planned work on the line between Lewes and Hastings as part of a major investment project to upgrade signalling in East Sussex. Once complete, this essential upgrade will provide a better, more reliable service for passengers.

“As part of this upgrade, we need to close the signal box at Polegate. We are aware that the local community has expressed interest in assuming ongoing responsibility for the box, which our property team are working on. For security reasons, while these discussions continue, the signal box will be padlocked and fitted with protective metal grills.”