Beginning of the end for Banbury’s historic signal box

Mayor Gordon Ross, Dave Penney, Michael Waine and John Salmon NNL-160822-155521001
Mayor Gordon Ross, Dave Penney, Michael Waine and John Salmon NNL-160822-155521001

Banbury’s Signal Box North was officially opened to the public on August 13, marking the beginning of the end for the ill-fated structure.

The ribbon cutting event was attended by Banbury town mayor Gordon Ross, managing director of Chiltern Railways, Dave Penney , chairman of Oxfordshire County Council, Michael Waine, John Salmon and Mark Bennett of Network Rail, Nathan Bignell, Rob Kinchin-Smith and Stephen Kerridge of Project Crossover and Greg Scott of Chiltern Rail.

So far more than 2,000 people have signed up for the 60-minute tour of the 115-year old signal box, who will be treated to an educational look at rail line safety, the workings of the box and be able to pull the levers and ring some bells.

Naomi’s Cafe in Bridge Street, Banbury, has also reserved the signal box for two special cream tea tours on September 4 and September 11.

The tours cost just £4.95 and can be booked by visiting the Facebook page www.facebook.com/NaomisCafeBar and are filling up fast.

The public tours have been organised as a compromise after the community group Save Banbury Signal Box North failed in attempts to raise the capital to purchase and run the box from owners National Rail.

Originally scheduled for demolition in early August the ten-week stay of execution was reached to allow the box a deserved farewell and as a fitting tribute to the box, its heritage and the passionate measures that many in the community took in order to secure the Victorian structure’s future.

The southern box has already been demolished as part of a £76 million upgrade to relocate the signalling duties to a digital hub in Rugby.

The 1R71 2237 London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street was the last train to be signalled by the boxes.

To book your free tour before its demolition on Saturday October 8, visit https://banburynorth.youcanbook.me or www.facebook.com/groups/BanburyNorthSignalBox.