Signal box petition handed over to local MP

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert was at Barnham Station on Friday afternoon (12 December) to receive a petition to save the historic signal box.

The petition was handed over by Andy Ayling and Mike Burton of the Campaign to Save Barnham Signal Box.  Campaigners have collected more than 2,300 signatures from local residents and railway enthusiasts.

The campaign is hoping to raise enough money to pay for the dismantling and relocation of the signal box to land at Aldingbourne Community Sports Centre in Westergate, where it will be used as an educational facility for local schoolchildren and home to the Bognor Regis Model Railway Club.

Campaigners need to raise £32,400 to pay for the dismantling and removal costs that will be levied by Network Rail.  The Railway Heritage Trust has pledged 60 per cent of the rebuilding costs, leaving campaigners to raise the remaining 40 per cent, which may take the form of labour and materials.

The signal box is a wooden structure at the end of platform two at Barnham Station and dates back to 1911.  It is believed to be the last remaining Edwardian example of its kind.  It has guided train movements for almost a century but has been decommissioned as part of a £25 million scheme to update the rail network around Barnham.

The signal box is due to be removed from Barnham Station in March 2009.

Andy Ayling commented: "It's been a long and difficult road to get to this point and there have been many highs and lows.  I originally started the campaign back in May 2007 when I tried to get the building listed, unfortunately to no avail.  I have kept going because, if we don't succeed in raising the £32,400, the signal box will be demolished.  We are still in talks with Network Rail and we are trying to get the asking price reduced.  I am very grateful to Nick for his help with this campaign."

Nick Herbert commented: "I was very pleased to receive the petition.  The signal box is part of our railway heritage, and I hope that it can be preserved.  I am full of admiration for the local campaigners who have worked so hard to collect signatures for their petition.  They've demonstrated that local people want to save this beautiful and historic building.  I really hope that the campaign succeeds, and I'll do what I can to help."

Mr Herbert added that he had written to the Chief Executive of Network Rail, enclosing the petition and asking him to review the charge for moving the box so that local campaigners faced a realistic sum to raise.

Ends

 

Notes for Editors

1. The photograph shows Nick Herbert (left) receiving the petition from Mike Burton of the Campaign to Save Barnham Signal Box.

2. For further details on the campaign, please contact Andy Ayling on 01243 553506 or 07901 598084 (e-mail: savebarnhambox@virgin.net).

Ed Barker