An old Midland Railway level crossing box has received a new lease of life after being installed at Shottle station on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway in Derbyshire.
The box at Oddingley crossing in Worcestershire was built in 1906. Being a level crossing box, it was at ground level, so that the level crossing keeper had easy access.
Decommissioned in 2016, when the crossing it served was automated, it was moved to Derbyshire to become a signal box on the Ecclesbourne Valley line, which runs from Duffield on the Midland main line to Wirksworth.
However, as the box was to be used as a signal box at Shottle station on the on the EVR, it needed to be at a high level. Volunteers under Mick Thomas therefore prepared concrete foundations and the necessary steelwork. Finally, on 12 June 2020, a road-rail crane from TXM Plant lifted it into position.
Lifting old signal boxes is always precarious. A number have been recovered from the main line railway by various heritage organisations over the years. The wood dries out over the decades they have been in service and their large windows make their structures relatively weak. Often, temporary framing has to be installed to give them rigidity.
However, the lift, while a little nerve-wracking for the spectators, went without a hitch. The box looks a little strange on its steel legs, but the plans are to clad it in wooden planks, as was done on a number of Midland Railway boxes of the period.
All that is needed now is the installation and commissioning of the station signalling and linking it to the new box. The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway’s owner and operator WyvernRail is looking for suitable volunteers, perhaps from graduate engineer and modern apprentice training schemes, to help with that next phase.