Policy for conservation of heritage railway signal boxes in Great Britain

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Modern computerised railway control methods are making traditional railway signal boxes obsolete and most signal boxes owned by Network Rail in Great Britain will close by 2026. Many of these signal boxes have a listing as buildings of architectural or historical significance. Listed buildings should ideally remain in their original location and this particularly applies to signal boxes, where the railway environment is an intrinsic aspect of the listing. However, there is pressure to relocate redundant listed and heritage signal boxes. Primary research methodology is by focusing upon key exemplars to determine the actual situation against theoretical conservation policy and practice. Findings are that while relocation affects the building’s conservation integrity, presentation of relocated signal boxes in a heritage railway environment provides for interpretation of railway history. The conclusions identify that there are contradictory requirements and pressures in conserving heritage signal boxes. These pressures materially affect the conservation process and there is a need to redefine accepted conservation theory to cope with the realties of signal box preservation. This will necessitate engagement by all interested parties and a systematic identification of all affected signal boxes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-59
JournalThe Historic Environment: Policy and Practice
Issue number1
Early online date25 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


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