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2008-9 News

This item covers the start of the project from the initial vision, identification of a new home for the box through to the awesome task of moving it to its new home.

The task to save the Barnham Signal Box started with Andy Ayling in early 2008. Knowing that the Barnham Signal Box was unique, following a fire which destroyed the only other similar box, he applied for preservation status. This application was unfortunately refused which led Andy to start a petition to ‘Save the Barnham Signal Box’.

It was Andy’s hope that the signal box would be saved in situ’ with all the working parts intact but as time progressed it became clear this was never going to be an option which Network Rail would consider. The petition however aroused the interest of both John Penfold and Tony Dixon who in turn approached Mike Burton, who in his capacity as Secretary to the Aldingbourne Community Sports Centre, (ACSC) was asked to request, from the ACSC, a parcel of land on which to locate the signal box. The ACSC and the ‘Landlord’, Aldingbourne Parish Council, thankfully both agreed and a parcel of land was acquired for a ‘Peppercorn Rent’.

In support of the campaign the Rt. Hon. Nick Herbert, MP, was asked to intervene on behalf of the newly created ‘Save The Barnham Signal Box Campaign’. Nick readily agreed and duly presented the petition, containing over 3500 local signatures, to the Chairman of Network Rail, Ian Coucher. Following this intercession by Nick Herbert and the mounting of considerable pressure in the local press and the media generally the Save Barnham Signal Box group, comprising of Messrs Ayling, Burton, Dixon and Penfold met with Paul Sutherland and Jerry Martin, representatives of Network Rail (NWR) on the 18 September 2008.

Highlighting that a site had already been found for the signal box Network Rail agreed to commit to a feasibility study and costing exercise to saving the box. Mr Martin, of NWR, produced a schedule costing the entire project at £132,000 of which the Save Barnham Signal Box Campaign were entrusted to raise £32,000.

Following a promise of a 60% grant towards the cost of removing the structure from the Barnham station by the Railway Heritage Trust the following months saw a number of fund raising initiatives involving local businesses and charitable funds. Several local businesses were enthusiastic about the project and offered material and/or their services, for use in the construction of the base, either free or at reduced rates. All these costs were deferred against the NWR required amount. A large grant from the Railway Heritage Trust secured the deal and following several false starts, due to weather conditions the building was craned across the main railway lines onto an extended low loader and transported, intact in one piece, to its new home at Olivers Meadow, on the 6 December 2009.

The signal box was successfully lifted from Barnham Station on 6 December 2009 and successfully relocated from Barnham Station to Olivers Meadow in Westergate with the intention that when restored it would become a community building and “home” for the Bognor Regis Model Railway Club.

The weather on the morning caused some delay as well as fears that the move would have to be abandoned. however, at approx 9.00am the weather abated and gave us a 45 minute window to lift the box onto the lorry.

The box then started on its 1.7 mile journey at a snail’s pace of approx 1-2mph.. The reason for the slow pace was that there were 100 overhead telephone cable en-route that had to be lifted by BT to allow the box to pass under. A police escort front and rear kept traffic at bay.

A video of the lift can be found on YouTube: Follow the link

The relocation brings us towards the end of Phase 1 of the project. The box now has to have new access stairs built and fitted as well as being restored/renovated before it can be used.


Posted by admin, 13 Aug 2015
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