Wensleydale Railway has announced that it is re-building a Victorian signal box in Constable Burton, near Leyburn, North Yorkshire. The project began in late 2022, and despite challenging weather conditions during the winter of 2023 and the early part of 2024, work is progressing well.

The signal box was originally located at Hertford East Station, but it had to be removed when the station platform was extended to accommodate Greater Anglia’s new 10-carriage commuter trains. Network Rail donated the signal box to Wensleydale Railway and the Railway Heritage Trust have provided grant funding, which now totals £90,000 towards the restoration costs. The timber-framed signal box was dismantled piece by piece in November 2021 and every item was carefully catalogued, removed and packed on flat bed lorries and then transported to North Yorkshire.

Following the preparation and construction of a new foundation base, the signal box timbers have been cleaned, repaired, treated and painted over several months. The main timber structure has been assembled and work is progressing on the external timber walls and completing the roof and chimney, using the original materials. The reconstruction works is being done by a team of dedicated volunteers, where appropriate using traditional techniques that reflect the signal box’s heritage.

Once fully fitted out with its lever frame, the signal box will control the passing loop at Constable Burton. Passengers travelling to and from Leyburn will be able to see the current state of construction and follow progress in the coming months from the passing trains.

David Walker, Director and Trustee of the Wensleydale Railway said: “This is a very large timber structure and will be the largest signal box to be fully dismantled on the national network and re-assembled on a heritage railway.” He added: “Most Victorian signal boxes were demolished but this one was spared as it is a Grade II Listed Building. It is one of the last Great Eastern type 7’s and dates from the 1880’s.”

Nick Keegan, Fundraising and Marketing Manager at Wensleydale Railway said: This project is another example of the high-quality work undertaken by our railway’s charitable organisation, the Wensleydale Railway Association (Trust). Having lovingly restored Scruton and Leeming Bar stations with funding support including from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Railway Heritage Trust, this project once again demonstrates the Trust’s dedication to preserving railway heritage for future generations to enjoy.”

He added: “As an interesting aside to the signal box and its history, one of our Trustees has identified that the short railway station video clip used by ITV3 between their tv programmes is of Hertford East Station!”