Listing verified as genuine
Posted on 22nd November 2015 / 1194
Industry Type : Transport
Public or Private Site? : Public Access
Condition : Restored

You’re looking at the first signal box in the UK to be listed!

She was erected by the London and South-Western Railway in 1874 and is one of their type 1 designs.

 

This cute little signal box had a very important role and the signalman was very much in charge of the safety and running of the railway line.

 

Although the passenger service came to an end in 1965, the line was still used for freight – mainly milk deliveries and ball clay from the Meeth quarries.

Unfortunately in 1982, the freight traffic declined and the line was closed. Suddenly the box was threatened with demolition, but the heroic villagers of Instow said “no” and started the Instow Box Emergency Restoration Fund.

 

Brilliantly in 1978 the little signal box was granted listed status, grade II, by the then English Heritage, the first of its kind in the UK, so the task of preservation was secured.

 

When Devon County Council bought the line to make the brilliant Tarka Trail, they inherited the signal box and were keen to see it well-preserved. But as time went on and money ran out, the task of fund raising once again falls to the villagers.

The keys were eventually handed over, as it were, to the Bideford Railway Heritage Centre (BRHC), based at the Torrington Station on the same line. The merger created the Bideford & Instow Railway Group. In 2006 the Group was reconstituted as the Bideford Railway Heritage Centre Community Interest Company.

 

A knowledgeable guardian of the signal box, Rob, says,

“Instow signal box was built in 1873 by the London and South Western Railway. Following withdrawal of passenger services in 1965 it remained in operation until 1979 as part of the freight only line. The signal box was saved by Instow Box Emergency Repair Fund who were successful in it becoming the very first railway signal box in the UK to be Grade II listed. After closure of the railway in 1982 it was purchased with the track-bed by Devon County Council for conversion to the Tarka Trail. In 2003 it was awarded a National Railway Heritage Award. It is now leased by Bideford Railway Heritage Centre CIC and is opened to the public by volunteers.”

The interior of the box still contains the original lever frame and fittings, which have been reconnected to one of the reinstalled signals. It also has the cast iron large wheel that operated the level crossing gates. Inside the signal box is also the wood burner to keep the signalman warm and a token machine which kept tight control over the trains permitted down the line at any time. The décor of the box is just as it was when the line closed to traffic and really is a lovely railway time-capsule.

 

In 2003 the Instow Signal box received the 2003 Carillion Rail Award at the National Railway Heritage Award ceremony – that’s how good it is!

 

To visit the box, park up at Instow, or cycle to it along the Tarka Trail. Parking at Fremington Quay or Puffing Billy (Torrington Station) are the best places to start from, if cycling. On Sundays, although not guaranteed, the signal box is often open and manned by a knowledgeable volunteer!

 

Instow, Bideford, North Devon, EX39 4HX.

Instow Signal Box

You’re looking at the first signal box in the UK to be listed!

She was erected by the London and South-Western Railway in 1874 and is one of their type 1 designs.

 

This cute little signal box had a very important role and the signalman was very much in charge of the safety and running of the railway line.

 

Although the passenger service came to an end in 1965, the line was still used for freight – mainly milk deliveries and ball clay from the Meeth quarries.

Unfortunately in 1982, the freight traffic declined and the line was closed. Suddenly the box was threatened with demolition, but the heroic villagers of Instow said “no” and started the Instow Box Emergency Restoration Fund.

 

Brilliantly in 1978 the little signal box was granted listed status, grade II, by the then English Heritage, the first of its kind in the UK, so the task of preservation was secured.

 

When Devon County Council bought the line to make the brilliant Tarka Trail, they inherited the signal box and were keen to see it well-preserved. But as time went on and money ran out, the task of fund raising once again falls to the villagers.

The keys were eventually handed over, as it were, to the Bideford Railway Heritage Centre (BRHC), based at the Torrington Station on the same line. The merger created the Bideford & Instow Railway Group. In 2006 the Group was reconstituted as the Bideford Railway Heritage Centre Community Interest Company.

 

A knowledgeable guardian of the signal box, Rob, says,

“Instow signal box was built in 1873 by the London and South Western Railway. Following withdrawal of passenger services in 1965 it remained in operation until 1979 as part of the freight only line. The signal box was saved by Instow Box Emergency Repair Fund who were successful in it becoming the very first railway signal box in the UK to be Grade II listed. After closure of the railway in 1982 it was purchased with the track-bed by Devon County Council for conversion to the Tarka Trail. In 2003 it was awarded a National Railway Heritage Award. It is now leased by Bideford Railway Heritage Centre CIC and is opened to the public by volunteers.”

The interior of the box still contains the original lever frame and fittings, which have been reconnected to one of the reinstalled signals. It also has the cast iron large wheel that operated the level crossing gates. Inside the signal box is also the wood burner to keep the signalman warm and a token machine which kept tight control over the trains permitted down the line at any time. The décor of the box is just as it was when the line closed to traffic and really is a lovely railway time-capsule.

 

In 2003 the Instow Signal box received the 2003 Carillion Rail Award at the National Railway Heritage Award ceremony – that’s how good it is!

 

To visit the box, park up at Instow, or cycle to it along the Tarka Trail. Parking at Fremington Quay or Puffing Billy (Torrington Station) are the best places to start from, if cycling. On Sundays, although not guaranteed, the signal box is often open and manned by a knowledgeable volunteer!

 

Instow, Bideford, North Devon, EX39 4HX.

Instow Signal Box
Industry Type : Transport
Public or Private Site? : Public Access
Condition : Restored
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