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Chance to signal love of rail heritage

PUBLISHED: 07:30 22 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:03 22 October 2010

The signal box in a back garden in Mattishall.

The signal box in a back garden in Mattishall.

Forget sheds, greenhouses and decking - the latest must-have accessory to stoke jealously among neighbours is a piece of Norfolk's railway heritage. The last-known original signal box from Dereham station is fired up for a one-way trip to suburbia when it is auctioned off next month with a guide price of over £2,000.

Forget sheds, greenhouses and decking - the latest must-have accessory to stoke jealously among neighbours is a piece of Norfolk's railway heritage.

The last-known original signal box from Dereham station is fired up for a one-way trip to suburbia when it is auctioned off next month with a guide price of over £2,000.

Built in 1882 the one-up, one-down timber and glass building has travelled a long way since the golden days of steam when it controlled rail traffic between Dereham and North Elmham - one of four boxes serving the town's station.

The box was bought for an office by an architect in the late 70s and hauled on the back of a lorry to his back garden in Mattishall, near Dereham, where it now enjoys mains electricity, heating and even a broadband internet connection.

Any interested buyers will need some hefty transport to shift the box to its new home as it is being sold separately to the house and garden.

Owners Anton and Shereen Lukoszevieze have fallen in love with the building since they moved into the property five years ago and say its tranquil setting has helped inspire artist Anton to produce work that won him a fellowship at King's College in Cambridge University.

With light streaming in from three sides into the top floor studio and a subterranean dark room below

Cellist Anton was inspired to branch out into photography, film making and abstract painting.

Mrs Lukoszevieze said: "It is a place to go and escape from the house and the general hubbub, it is basically a very large version of the potting shed.

"It is an enormous quiet space with a lot of natural light, it really broadened my husband's artistic horizons.

"The box has been cherished by its past two owners and we will only let it go to a loving home.

"We have become very attached to it and its going to be quite difficult for my husband to give it up.

"It would be absolutely tragic if nobody wanted the signal box or it had to be pulled down."

Barry Woodgett, chairman of the Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust said the group would discuss whether it would make an offer on the building.

"It is the last of the Dereham signal boxes which is extant so it is quite significant in the history of the station," he said.

Tops Auction House is handling the sale of the box and auctioneer Brian Baxter said it had already had a lot of interest but that its price was still a long way off beach huts - which can sell for as much as £140,000.

He said: "It is a rare chance for somebody to have a signal box in their back garden, it makes a bit of a change from the usual shed or greenhouse."

The box will be auctioned off at the Assembly Rooms in Norwich at 11am on Thursday July 20. Three open days will be held at the property at 8 South Green in Mattishall from 11.30am - 12.30pm on Saturday, and July 8 and 15.


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