Rare Yorkshire signal boxes are given listed status

Keith Collins in front of Hensall signal box.
Keith Collins in front of Hensall signal box.
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Some of Yorkshire’s signal boxes are more likely to be protected for future generations after they were awarded listed status.

The landmarks at Hebden Bridge and Hensall are among 26 of England’s rarest and best-preserved railway signal boxes to have been given Grade II-listed status.

The list, announced by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, includes signal boxes dating from late-Victorian times.

It comes as Network Rail decommissions many mechanical signal boxes to consolidate signalling into 12 regional centres.

John Minnis, senior investigator at English Heritage, said: “These are very special buildings, at one time a familiar sight on our railway system. Today’s 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.”

In the 1940s, there were as many as 10,000 signal boxes but today fewer than 500 are in use by Network Rail (NR), which has joined English Heritage in seeking out the best examples of historic boxes. Built in 1891, Hebden Bridge signal box is one of only a handful of Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway boxes to survive in anything like original condition. The signal box at Hensall was built in 1875 by signalling contractors E S Yardley & Co, also for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.

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, and so I am very pleased indeed to be able to list these lovely examples of the type.”