35mm · Film photography · Photography

The end of an era

Today marked the end of the road (or should that be rails?) for the Beighton Station signal box. It’s demolition has been planned for some months now and, despite campaigns to save it, it was demolished this morning.

My wife and I walked down yesterday afternoon so I could make a few photos while it was still intact, although surrounded by wire fencing. A conversation with one of the contractors on site revealed that the demolition was planned for today at 8am. So, my alarm set for seven, I rose this morning, fed the cat, and drove down to see the event take place.

I needn’t have gotten out of bed so early as not much was happening. There were a lot of contractors on site – a dozen or more at least, and the method of the box’s destruction – a large CAT excavator with a claw attachment – could be seen parked a little way down the railway tracks. The tracks have been closed to rail traffic for the duration of the activity, and the level crossing is only open to foot traffic. As well as the workmen, there were a few locals there to witness the demolition, at least two of whom I discovered had worked in the signal box in the past. There was a bit of excitement when a large metal skip was delivered to take the remains away, but still nothing much was taking place. The box still had the Beighton Station sign affixed which needed to be removed as it has apparently been promised to the local lifestyle centre as a souvenir.

It was quite cold at the location, especially while standing still, so I decided to take advantage of the slow progress and pop back home to grab a quck breakfast before returning. This is where things went off-plan…

Getting back to the car, I turned the key in the ingnition and… nothing. Despite the car having started perfectly an hour or so before, the battery was now almost completely dead. The radio would come on, but the engine wouldn’t turn over at all. My choices were not to either go back to the demolition and sort the car out afterwards, or call the breakdown service to get it back on the road again. As today was Mother’s Day here in the UK and we were planning to go out for something to eat at luchtime – don’t get excited, the lockdown restrictions meant that the day would be celebrated by my wife, our sons, and I treating ourselves to a drive-thru burger while sat in the car. These plans meant that I needed to get the car sorted out as soon as possible. The breakdown company stated that it would be 2-3 hours and that I would get a call twenty minutes before the recovery vehicle arrived. My plans of seeing the demolition of the signal box slipping away, I decided to walk home, get some breakfast and wait for the call.

The walk home took about 10-15 mins and then, liteally a minute after getting there, I received a text saying the breakdown recovery vehicle would be with me in 10 minutes! Not having time to get any breakfast, and thankful that we have two cars, I asked my wife to drive me back down to where the other car was parked. The recovery vehicle arrived at exactly the same time we did, and I crossed the road to speak to the driver. After popping the bonnet, he ran some tests on the car battery which revealed itself to have a faulty cell, necessitating a replacement. The options were to get one fitted there and then, or to be towed to a garage or branch of Halfords to get the work done. Given the paucity of time available to me I decided to let the recovery service replace and fit a new battery as this would get me back on the road straight away.

Soon I was back home and munching a hasty breakfast of granola before heading back to the signal box to see if work had begun (or, knowing my luck, that I had missed the whole thing). When I got there I was pretty much right on time though. While I’d missed the removal of the Beighton Station sign – which I’d hoped to record with a photo – the excavator was only just about to start its work.

I spent the next half-hour making photos of the gradual demolition. There were more people around by this time, many of them making photos or recording video, and I made a couple of dozen images of the scene until the building was down to its lower brick section. My time running short, and the roll of film at an end, I decided to head back home.

I have a busy week ahead, so doubt I’ll get to develop the film until next weekend, but I’ll be sure to post a series of pictures depicting the day’s events once I have the negatives scanned. In the meantime, here’s a picture of the box I made back in November 2016.

Beighton Station box
A witness to many years
I bid you farewell

Signal Box G2P-2

Olympus 35RC & Dixons branded 200asa film (expired June 2004). Grain2Pixel conversion.

Taken in November 2016

3 thoughts on “The end of an era

  1. Looking forward to seeing the pictures you got. It’s really too bad it couldn’t be saved in place as a historical landmark. But I suppose there were numerous ones of these dotted round the countryside? Was this one not deemed unusual or historically significant enough for some reason? I’ll have to go back and read the other posts you wrote for the signal box, in fact those posts appear below your post, as digests. Boy, what a brouhaha of a morning you had!

    FWIW, I like “bonnet” far better than the U.S. America “hood”, infinitely more charming 🙂 What exactly is a large metal skip, though?

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    1. It’s sad that it’s gone, but it was more of a local landmark than a site of specific significance. There are many signal-boxes around the country – some in active use, some serving as fall-backs, and some preserved as part of heritage railways. The active ones are owned by Network Rail, so they’re not going to spend money preserving them if they have no commercial function any more unfortunately.

      A “skip” is a large metal container for getting rid of waste. They are usually delivered to site via a skip-lorry, left in place until they’re full, and then removed agin by a lorry. They come in various sizes for domestic or commercial use. You can see some in this post here:

      https://steelcitysnapper.wordpress.com/2021/01/15/more-skips-more-reflections-bonus-pylon/

      The one used for the signal box was much larger – like an open-topped shipping container.

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