TV star opens historic former main line signalbox

By Geoff Courtney

AMBERLEY Museum has marked the launch of its 40th season with the official openings by television and radio personality Nicholas Owen of a landmark former main line signalbox and a standard gauge locomotive shed.

Nicholas, a railway enthusiast who supports the West Sussex visitor attraction, performed the dual opening on March 25. The signalbox was built by Saxby & Farmer in about 1868 and after eight years at another location was moved to Billingshurst on the London Victoria to Bognor Regis line, where it remained in operation for 138 years.

In the frame: Railway enthusiast and TV broadcaster Nicholas Owen operates the restored former Billingshurst signalbox after he had opened the new attraction at Amberley Museum on March 25. PETE EDGELER

It was closed in 2014, by which time it had attracted the attention of railway enthusiasts, particularly those with an interest in signalling, due to it being the country’s oldest operational box and the last surviving working representative of its design.

To the delight of those aficionados, a new home was found for the 19 lever Grade II listed box just 11 miles down the line at Amberley, where it was erected near the museum’s working 2ft gauge line and restored by volunteers.

After Nicholas had formally opened the museum in front of a large crowd, Amberley marketing and communications manager Rebecca Main said: “The box was built for the LBSCR and is a welcome addition to our railway collection, and complements our former Hove station ticket office.”

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