THEIR numbers may have dwindled since a heyday in the 1940s, but they remain a testament to the golden age of the railways.
Signal boxes were built in highly visible spots at stations or level crossings to a wide variety of designs, sometimes with beautiful detailing and embellishment far beyond what was needed for their practical function.
English Heritage announced yesterday that 14 of the North of England’s rarest and best preserved signal boxes dating from the 1870s have been given Grade II listed status by the Government. The listings are the final phase of a two-year project to safeguard the nation’s railway heritage, and come as Network Rail decommissions many mechanical signal boxes to centralise operations into 12 regional centres. The region has seen four boxes listed at Marston Moor and Hammerton, both near York, as well as Settle Station in North Yorkshire and Nunthorpe, near Redcar and Cleveland.
Heritage Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Our interest in everything to do with trains and railways – and the ‘golden age’ of steam in particular - is one of our most endearing and enduring national preoccupations. Signal boxes are a big part of this, and so I am very pleased indeed to be able to list these lovely examples.”