Railway signal boxes granted Grade II listed status

Bury St Edmunds Yard, Edmundsbur​y, Suffolk Built in 1888, the Bury St Edmunds Yard signal required four resident signal men to work the levers
Skegness, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire The Skegness signal box in East Lindsey was at the end of the Poacher line which ran from Nottingham
Hebden Bridge, Calderdale​, West Yorks Hebden Bridge signal box was fitted with 36 levers and is one of only a handful of Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway boxes to survive
Totnes signal box The decommissioned signal box in Totnes, Devon, has been converted into a cafe
Downham Market, Kings Lynn and West Norfolk The Downham Market signal box in Norfolk has been well preserved with wood blocks cut to resemble stone
Grain Crossing, Medway, Kent The Grain Crossing signal box in Medway, Kent was responsible for the diverging lines on the approach to the now disused Port Victoria

Related Stories

Twenty-six of the "rarest" signal boxes in England have been granted Grade II listed status by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey said interest in trains and railways was one of the country's "most endearing and enduring national preoccupations".

The joint venture, between English Heritage and Network Rail, is part of a 30-year plan to modernise the railways.

A number of mechanical boxes are being replaced by regional operating centres.

"These are very special buildings, at one time a familiar sight on our railway system," said English Heritage's senior investigator John Minnis.

The preservation of 26 "highly distinctive" signal boxes would provide a "window into how railways were operated in the past," he added.

David Sillito visits a signal box in Norfolk

Hebden Bridge signal box, which was built in 1891, will be preserved as it has a "time warp quality" and has retained its original 1914 signage.

English Heritage said some of the listed buildings could be "rejuvenated" as cafes or museums, such as the 1923 signal box in Totnes, Devon.

In the 1940s there were more than 10,000 signal boxes in the UK. Now fewer than 500 mechanical signal boxes are still in use, according to Network Rail.

The "difficult and expensive" operating buildings limit the "potential of the rail network", it said.

Network Rail said modernisation plans were aimed at improving railway technology so there are fewer delays and higher capacity.

Signal platforms were first introduced in the 1840s, but British engineer John Saxby first created a building housing levers in 1857.

They were designed by private contractors and railway companies, such as Great Western Railway, leading to a huge variety of designs.

The new designations are as follows:


  • Hebden Bridge, Calderdale, West Yorkshire
  • Hensall, Selby, North Yorkshire


  • Bournemouth West Junction, Poole, Dorset
  • Lostwithiel, Restormel, Cornwall
  • Marsh Brook, Shropshire
  • Par, Restormel, Cornwall
  • Totnes, S Hams, Devon


  • Brundall, Broadland, Norfolk
  • Bury St Edmunds Yard, St Edmundsbury, Suffolk
  • Downham Market, Kings Lynn and West Norfolk, Norfolk
  • Skegness, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire
  • Thetford, Breckland, Norfolk
  • Wainfleet, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire
  • Wymondham South Junction, South Norfolk, Norfolk


  • Aylesford, Tonbridge and Malling, Kent
  • Canterbury East, Kent
  • Cuxton, Medway, Kent
  • Eastbourne, East Sussex
  • Grain Crossing, Medway, Kent
  • Littlehampton, West Sussex
  • Liverpool Street, City of London
  • Maidstone West, Maidstone, Kent
  • Rye, Rother, East Sussex
  • Shepherdswell, Dover, Kent
  • Snodland, Tonbridge and Malling, Kent
  • Wateringbury, Maidstone, Kent

Upload your photos or send them to yourpics@bbc.co.uk


More on This Story

Related Stories

From other news sites

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    good its about time more of our heritage was looked after in this way its too easy to destroy things lets save things for a change oh and stuff dr beeching lol

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    26th July 2013 - 21:24
    "This sounds nice but why are so many of the signal boxes situated in the southern half of the country, specifically Kent and Norfolk? Are there no signal boxes 'up North' worth saving?"

    No they're aren't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    Wow BBC, we've got some incredible topics to comment on today: saving redundant industrial buildings; a Gaelic dictionary and what to say if you eventually get to Mars... The Church of England's finances (and it's leader's gaffe), the Court of Appeal extending criminal sentences and 9 year-old brides in Yemen might have been more fun... (and dare I say controversial)

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    Well I'll be… Hensall has been listed (one of only two in the North, which along with Feedback I find a little hard to believe). Luckily Hensall is about five miles from me, so I'll go and look at it with awe on the coming weekend.

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.


    Can we preserve the NHS before that goes?


    I come form Cardiff, the issue with the university hospital is far more important than signal boxes, I pointed that out @190, it was moderated the hell out off, I lost a relative there, who we found out had not been given water for 3 day's after an operation, basically a Welsh Stafford, but its is in Wales so who cares right?

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    This is not a new thing, Boxes have been listed before and then mysteriously burn down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    These buildings they should be made available to museums or groups of enthusiast who could enjoy caring for them in "retirement" and even playing with them. Listing them does not serve that objective. Lovable as they might be, there is no place for a shed with levers to control a modern railway network.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    199. Ketchup
    Can we preserve the NHS before that goes?

    Sure, you could set up a charity to by a 50's hospital and operate it as a museum/hotel. Not a bad idea actually, staff it with actors playing the parts of hospital staff and watch people come to pay for a stay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    @198.firemensaction Good! Now perhaps the govt can redress the mess made back in the 60s when half the network was destroyed by an ICI vandal!!
    There is irony in that within the context of the following:


    Possibly even "A conflict of interest" - perhaps?

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.


    Don't be so greedy! You've got two. There is not one in the Midlands, East or West, deemed worthy, unless you count Skegness, that is. A point I made sarcastically 8 hours ago, that didn't get an Editors Pick. But of course, I agree with you. It all looks a lopsided list to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    The only signal I am getting is that HYS is now moderated far too strictly to the degree that it is straight censorship.

    Signal boxes are being marked down as listed buildings but nothing was said when Beeching wielded his axe.

    Can we preserve the NHS before that goes?

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    Good! Now perhaps the govt can redress the mess made back in the 60s when half the network was destroyed by an ICI vandal!!
    But, once again the South is to get "redress" and the North, (where railways were invented), again gets the short-to-none existent straw!.
    No change then!

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.


    Mate simple those living in the South East of the UK think they are better than the rest, hence "London and the Regions" thing, we sorry to burst your bubble London and the South East but; you are just a Region like the Rest us, it is that your greedy ducks that is why far more signalling boxes are being preserved in Norfolk and Kent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    Glad but way way too late. The amount of railway architecture gone is phenomenal. I hope the listed building status can spread and other areas of the railways can be saved. I still feel annoyed when I think about the original Euston Station, a wonderful building demolished with a blink of an eye.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    If only successive governments, Tory in particular, had realised the TRUE value of railways to society as whole, the perhaps we wouldn't have the transport chaos we have now. At least this is small recognition of the true value that railways provide

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    This sounds nice but why are so many of the signal boxes situated in the southern half of the country, specifically Kent and Norfolk? Are there no signal boxes 'up North' worth saving? Wouldn't it be rather strange to travel most of the country and not see one box, then head into Kent and suddenly be inundated with them? Strange.

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    Nothing North of Yorkshire, yet I'm sure we have a rich heritage in the North (east & west)....and what about Scotland and Wales?

    Oh that's right, they aren't in London

    (Note to self......I must remember that London is the UK, and the UK is London....Everybody else doesn't count. I'm still waiting for the Olympic Effect to hit me)

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    @135.Owain Glyndwr

    Non in Wales then, typical.


    Even as a Welsh person I am embarrassed by your comment...Get with it stop English bashing mate please.



    @135. Owain Glyndwr: Non in Wales then, typical.

    M\aybe that's because this exercise was carried out by English Heritage. You need to have a word with Cadw.


    I agree with you :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    Why all the rush to preserve everything but our national identity?
    I'm an advocate of listing these signal boxes, but I'm concerned that such little is being done to preserve anything else.

  • Comment number 190.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


Page 1 of 11


More Entertainment & Arts stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.