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Piece of rail heritage is a box of delights...
10:00am Wednesday 24th October 2012 in Romsey
A SLICE of Romsey’s railway heritage has celebrated two milestones.
An open day was a double celebration because it marked both the anniversary of Romsey Signal Box’s closure in 1982 and its reopening in 1992.
Test Valley’s mayor – a keen supporter and one of the original signal box project committee members – was there to see how much things has changed since the structure was saved from demolition 30 years ago.
Mrs Dorothy Baverstock got involved with the project through the Friends of Romsey Signal Box in 1987 when she was community deputy head at Romsey School and on Saturday the borough mayor joined others involved in saving and restoring the box for celebrations to mark the work achieved.
Romsey’s mayor, Mark Cooper, joined the borough’s first citizen at the celebrations on the Signal Box site at the rear of the former Romsey Infants School off Winchester Road. Dick Hewett, from the project, said Mrs Baverstock was “especially delighted” to see the progress made by the Friends of Romsey Signal Box.
“The vision that Dorothy and her colleagues had in 1987 had indeed come to fruition and 25 years on, the signal box has been fully restored to operational order, and the surrounding site transformed with track, working signalling equipment, other artefacts, and a comprehensive visitor centre,” said Mr Hewett.
He explained that when the box closed on October 18, 1982 it was saved thanks to interest from the then head of Romsey Infants School, Audrey Gebbie, and Romsey and District Buildings Preservation Trust, which stepped in and saved the structure and bought a piece of land between the railway line and the school in 1987 to house the rebuilt box.
Mr Hewett added: “Since then, the Friends of Romsey Signal Box have worked tirelessly to restore the inside of the signal box to working order, connecting several levers to a point and signals outside. The box was re-opened for the public to visit on October 18 1992, exactly 10 years after closure.”
A cake in the shape of the signal box, baked by Little Bee Bakery of Rownhams, was cut by the Chairman of the Buildings Preservation Trust, Dr Peter Shooligan-Jordan.
The box which is opened to the public on the first Sunday of each month, apart from January, has attracted 8,200 visitors since it was opened to the public.
Romsey’s mayor said he hoped visitor numbers would increase and he described the structure as a “little gem”.