COMMUNITY action won through last year with the successful rescue of the historic St Albans South Signal Box, which had fallen into a sorry state of disrepair. Built in 1892 for the Midland Railway Company, the historic wooden structure contains a rare 1906 Midland Railway tumbler interlocking lever frame with 44 levers.
The box closed in 1979 and lay forgotten until 2002 when a group of St Albans residents decided that the Grade II Listed signal box should be saved. Restoration began in 2008 and the grand opening of the signal box took place during Heritage Open Days last year. In October 2009, The St Albans Signal Box Preservation Trust were rewarded for all their hard work by a Civic Society award.
As a registered charity, the trust has been awarded grants that have enabled it to lease the signal box from Network Rail and carry out the restoration.
Since its establishment, the group has received funds from the Railway Heritage Trust, Architectural Heritage Fund, Lafarge Aggregates Limited, the Esmèe Fairbarn Foundation and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The money has gone towards constructing a fence around the area and making the garden into a pleasant attraction, with hedges, trees, a lawn and benches.
The building has been structurally restored, painted and rewired. The 'locking' room on the ground floor has been turned into a museum and new toilet facilities have been installed. Much work has already gone into the surrounding land turning it into a signalman’s garden, and Midland Railway lamp posts and an Victorian cast iron ground signal have been kindly donated.
The box is now open to the public on two Sundays a month during the summer. Videos and a slideshow of the restoration will be running downstairs, and continuous signalling demonstrations take place on the operating floor. Entrance is free.
Open: Sunday, August 8 and 22, from 2pm to 5pm. Heritage Open Days September 11 and 12 from 10am to 4pm Sunday, September 26, from 2pm to 5pm.
Details: St Albans South Signal Box, Ridgmont Road, St Albans. email: firstname.lastname@example.org