Downham Market’s railway heritage is preserved for future generations

Signal box at Downham station, which has just been given listed building statu
Signal box at Downham station, which has just been given listed building statu
Have your say

A stunning Victorian signal box in Downham has been safeguarded for future generations.

The town’s signal box is one of the five rare examples across the region to have been granted Grade II listed status last week.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has awarded listed status to 26 signal boxes across the country as part of a joint project between Network Rail and English Heritage to secure the nation’s railway signalling heritage.

Downham’s signal box was built in 1881 for the Great Eastern Railway Company but will soon be decommissioned as part of a 30-year modernisation project.

It has been granted the status as it is well preserved and still contains its original Saxby and Farmer rocker frame.

Town mayor David Sharman said this is great news for the town.

He said: “I am very pleased. It is important to preserve the town’s heritage.

“It has always been maintained during the years and I think it has been altered over the years.”

Downham station, which was built in 1846 for the Great Eastern Railway, is also a Grade II listed building.

The timber signal box was constructed after the Ely to Lynn line was interlocked.

It still has a timber staircase on the north side and boasts notched bargeboards and window sashes.

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.”

English Heritage’s senior investigator John Minnis said: “These are very special buildings, at one time a familiar sight on our railway system. The listings will ensure that many of these highly distinctive designs which were full of character are protected for years to come, providing a window into how railways were operated in the past.”

Jerry Swift, of Network Rail, said it was great news.

He said: “Identifying the most significant signal boxes so that they are safeguarded for future generations is something we are all committed to.

“It is important that they have a life after the national railway network has finished with them.”