December 12 2013 Latest news:
by STEVE DOWNES
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
For many decades, it stood at the entrance to Sheringham town centre, playing a key role in keeping cars and trains apart as they crossed Station Road.
But for the last 40 years, the 106-year-old signal box has been no more than a museum piece, removed from the action and standing 100 metres from its former home.
Yesterday, the exile ended, as a signal manoeuvre moved it back where it belongs - and turned back the clock at North Norfolk Railway.
The box, built in 1906, will once more overlook the level crossing, which was reinstated in 2010 after a long campaign - enabling North Norfolk Railway to join up with the Bittern Line and run trains all over the country.
And the evocative story might have another chapter. For volunteers are hoping to one day restore the signal equipment to make it a working box again.
The move, which happened in persistent rain, saw a crane on the back of a lorry lower a cradle to wrap around the box to carry it to the spot that it occupied for decades until the early 1970s.
Colin Borg from NNR said: “In its new position it is a terrific advertisement for the railway. You can’t miss it when you drive into Sheringham.”
The move is designed to enhance the authenticity of the popular tourist attraction by making it more as it was in its heyday.
But it has also been done with an eye on the future. For it clears the way for an ambitious scheme to reconstruct station buildings at platform two.
The buildings, which would be mirror images of the current buildings at platform one, were demolished when British Rail moved out of the station and the nearby car park was built.
Mr Borg said: “Rebuilding the station in its original style is no light undertaking, but it’s on our radar. Moving the signal box is part of that broader plan. It would give us the space to have bigger and better facilities.”
Before 1906, there was one signal box at Sheringham, which had to handle more and more train traffic during the steam rail heyday.
In 1906, two more were installed - one to the east and one to the west.