06 March 2012
A new Victorian-style signal box in Corfe Castle that has taken a team of dedicated volunteers more than three years to build – and which will control trains to Wareham – has scooped a coveted national award for quality.
Started in 2008, the brick and wood signal box costing £48,000 on the 'down' platform of the restored station in the shadow of the Medieval castle ruins won the National Railway Heritage Award for Signalling in the City of London.
Photo: Andrew PM Wright
The panel of judges praised the new building – made to look like the original Victorian signal box which stood on the same spot between 1885 and its demolition in 1956 – as 'an achievement of outstanding merit' and said the Swanage Railway had a well-earned reputation for signalling excellence.
Volunteer Corfe Castle signal box project manager and a director of the Swanage Railway Trust, Mike Whitwam, said: "This award is a great accolade for everyone who has worked on the signal box which will control trains to Wareham and communicate with Network Rail's relevant signalling centre. The judges praised the excellence of the workmanship, saying the new signal box was striking, eye-catching and formed a very significant visual addition to the station. They also praised the quality of the refurbishment and restoration work on the lever frame as being exceptional and a huge achievement, adding that all the new work has been undertaken to a very high standard."
The 32-lever 1920s Westinghouse-designed A2 class lever frame in the new signal box at Corfe Castle has come from lever frames that were in two long since demolished signal boxes at Broadstone station, between Poole and Wimborne, and Brockenhurst station in the New Forest. The new Corfe Castle signal box has cost £48,000 to build with funding coming from the Swanage Railway's 200 Club which previously financed the
building of the award-winning signal boxes at Swanage and Harman's Cross stations.
Corfe Castle signal box is the fourth National Railway Heritage Award for Signalling that the volunteer-run Swanage Railway has received. The first was the new signal box at Harman's Cross in 1997, the second the new Swanage signal box in 2002 and the third the restoration of the old 1956 Corfe signal box in 2005. In their report, the panel of judges wrote: "It is evident that a great deal of careful thought and planning, plus a vast amount of hard work, has been put into the scheme. The Swanage Railway, and especially the people involved, can be justifiably proud of what they have achieved. 'Particular care has been taken to match the tiling, weatherboarding and brick plinth of the adjacent old waiting room. Mounting the superbly crafted staircase, one enters the operating floor to meet a scene of Southern splendour. All the components have required a vast amount of restoration, and the result is spectacular. Appropriate linoleum floor covering and a beautifully-grained elm footboard add to the impressive period interior. All around, the standard of paintwork is exemplary"
Photo: Andrew PM Wright
Mike Whitwam and several other Swanage Railway volunteers who worked on the new Corfe Castle signal box were presented with the National Railway Heritage Award for Signalling by the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman David Wootton, in a ceremony at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall in the City of London.
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