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St Albans South Signal Box
A Midland Railway Signal Box Preserved on it’s Original Site
St Albans South Signal Box has been declared to be a historic monument and is a listed
building including the interior contents. The Preservation Trust was set up in 2002
to restore it and open it to the public.
1877 - Original St Albans South signal box built with 16 levers to serve the double
1892 - The line through St Albans was quadrupled. A new larger Midland Railway type
2A timber signal box was prefabricated at Derby and assembled on site to replace
the original one. The second set of lines were originally built for goods traffic.
1903 - The goods lines were upgraded for use by passenger trains.
1906 - A 44 lever frame with "tumbler" interlocking replaced the original one, but
the increased size of interlocking tray (behind the levers) caused it to fit up close
against the back wall, giving rise to maintenance problems.
1950s - To relieve the maintenence problem, a scheme was drawn up for replacement
by a 55-lever tappet interlocking frame. The new frame was delivered but never installed.
After sitting outside in a wagon for a while, it was removed for installation at
Kentish Town Sidings instead.
1979 - St Albans South signal box was closed by British Rail although it remained
in use, housing the station announcer, until 1980. The box was declared to be a historic
monument and became a listed building before closure, including the lever frame and
associated items. After closure, British Rail made several, unsuccessful, efforts
to have the building removed to an alternative site.
2002 - St Albans Signal Box Preservation Trust began talks with St Albans environment
department, local MP and councillors and Railtrack to agree a scheme to restore and
preserve the building.
2003 - A feasibility study was carried out funded by an Architectural Heritage Fund
grant and the Railway Heritage Trust offered a grant towards the costs of repair
and restoration works.
2005 - The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant towards the cost of restoring the
signal box, Planning Approval and Listed Building/ Conservation area consent were
granted and fencing was installed.
2006 - The lease was signed and work commenced but force 8 gales destroyed the toilet
block in December.
2007 - Restoration of the building continued, by the end of the year the work was
2008 - External work was completed early in the year, by September, internal restoration
was sufficiently progressed to hold two heritage open days.
2009 - Internal restoration was completed and regular public opening started at Easter.
On 12 Sept the signal box was Formally Opened by Jim Cornell, Executive Director
of The Railway Heritage Trust. In October, the signal box won a Civic Society award
which was presented by the Mayor.
2010 - A demonstration of colour light signals was set up in the garden. The signals
were donated by Network Rail and although only around 30 years old, these signals,
fitted with filament bulbs, are now historic, as new signalling installations use
LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology. At the annual National Heritage Railway Awards
the Preservation Trust was given the prestigious Invensys Rail Signalling Award (Structures)
for the restoration of the box.
2011 - External colour light signal demonstration is wired up and working.
Attractions and Facilities
Continuous signalling demonstrations running on the operating floor.
Railway videos and slideshow of the restoration running downstairs.
Garden and external colour light signal demonstration.
Light refreshments available.
April-September: 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month
October-March: 2nd Sunday of the month
Open from 2:00 to 5:00pm.
Refer to the official website (see link below) for full details.
London & Brighton
St Albans South
Luton & Bedford
The map below shows the location of St Albans South Signal Box. Use the zoom and
pan tools to explore the map.
By train - St Albans South Signal Box is close to St Albans (SAC) station on the
midland main line and is served by First Capital Connect trains from stations between
Bedford and Brighton.
By car - The signal box is surrounded by St Albans station car park off Ridgmont
Road. Follow the signs to the station or use the map and location information above.
By bus - St Albans station is served by Arriva and Uno Bus services, use the links
below for times and service details.
They've done a lovely job restoring the old signal box next to St Albans City Station
in the last few years, and it's well worth a visit - not just for rail enthusiasts
but for the whole family.
It's not just a window into how the trains were operated in years gone by, it's also
packed with large amounts of social history and memorabilia, but above all it's staffed
by friendly, knowledgeable volunteers who rescued the building and turned it into
a fantastic piece of local heritage. Plan ahead as it's only open about twice a month.