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VIDEO: Billingshurst signal box to take pride of place in Amberley Museum

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The signal box at Billingshurst will close tomorrow (Friday March 14) ahead of its move to its new home at Amberley Museum.

The Grade II listed structure is thought to be one of the country’s oldest working signal boxes dating back to 1876 and the system used inside it is just as old.

But tomorrow they, as well as signal boxes in Pulborough and Amberley, will be consigned to history under modernisation plans which Network Rail say will improve the safety and efficiency of the crossing.

Signalman Paul Charman said: “The lines are going to be controlled from Three Bridges (in Crawley).

“We make sure the trains get departed in a safe manner. The system to work it dates back to the 1870s. The ‘modern’ system came in 1910-1920.”

He started working at Billingshurst in 2001. He said: “I remember being terrified when I was being left on my own for the first time. You’ve got nine miles of track in total and seven level crossings as well as the station.

“It’s been great to work here. We use a system that was used 140 years ago.

“We have 35,000 trains a year on the lines and it very rarely goes wrong. It’s still ultra-reliable to this day.”

A brand new signal control centre has been built at Three Bridges, and more and more signalling schemes will be moving there as time moves on.

Billingshurst crossing will be automatic, and will be triggered by the approach of trains. An obstacle detection system will sweep the crossing with lasers to detect that it is clear before allowing trains to pass.

At the end of the month the signal box will be moved to Amberley Museum.

Curator Claire Seymour said: “It fits in with our collection policy of collecting items from the London and Brighton Line. We have got the Hove ticket office, which came to us four or five years ago.

“As you come into our second station you will see the signal box, then the ticket box and then the station.

“Billingshurst signal box is such a beautiful bit of kit. It will finish off the station area.”

Once moved she added it would take a minimum of three months to get it restored.

 

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