Race against time to save historic north signal box from demolition

Banbury Railway Station. Signal box. NNL-150302-162950009
Banbury Railway Station. Signal box. NNL-150302-162950009

An eclectic mix of local railway enthusiasts are trying to prevent Network Rail destroying one of the railway’s most iconic signal boxes.

Banbury Signal Box North is a community group set up to oppose the scheduled demolition of the signal box in either late July or early August.

Chairman of Banbury Civic Society Rob Kinchin-Smith, along with consultant rail project manager Mark Cockerill, has outlined an ambitious plan to preserve the north box by raising funds to lease it from Network Rail and transform it into a centre for children to learn more about the railways and the dangers of railway trespass.

Built in 1901 and still retaining most of its original parts, Signal Box North is a beloved, red-brick Banbury landmark and as such is the focus of the group’s efforts. The south box too is due to be demolished. Both boxes, owned by Network Rail, will be removed to make way for £76 million upgrades relocating the area’s signalling system to a new digital hub in Rugby.

Such leasing arrangements normally exist outside of the remit of Network Rail but it has shown some interest in the scheme and has offered to discuss it with the group. Before moving forward, however, Network Rail has requested that proof of funding for the walkway, maintenance plans and a structural assessment of the box are in place.

The group are confident that if they can show a commitment to investment then Network Rail will delay the demolition .

Mr Kinchin-Smith said; “What we need is a sugar daddy who hasn’t got to release the money but is good for it. We will need trustees but they don’t have to be trustees in perpetuity, they just need to support us now.”

The group is short of time and have until May 7 to meet Network Rail’s demands. Any businesses interested are urged to visit the group’s Facebook page or contact Mr Kinchin-Smith at kinchin-smithr@rpsgroup.com or 07818 091862.