Volunteers are on track with signal box works

For decades it stood on the side of the railway tracks in Shropshire. The signal box was a landmark for motorists driving into the village of Weston Rhyn.

The signal box at Corwen Station, which was originally at Weston Rhyn
The signal box at Corwen Station, which was originally at Weston Rhyn

Now it stands proudly at a new station being built at Corwen in North Wales.

The station will be the terminus of the Llangollen Heritage Railway which already runs between the two towns but until now has had to end at a halt just outside Corwen.

Despite the financial troubles of the railway's public limited company, volunteers of the railway trust as still busy getting the station ready for its eventual opening when the coronavirus and the finances allow.

Lockdown has meant volunteers have only just returned to the site having been granted special permission to continue essential work on the line.

Volunteer Pete Robson at work in the signal box at Corwen station.

A small band of 14 volunteers, with an average age of 67, are using their various skills and working in all weather conditions as they have for many years.

The creation of a completely new station platform, mostly by volunteers and financed by fundraising, has been a remarkable achievement.

It has meant the moving of 3,000 tonnes of material from the old Ruthin branch in a four week exercise to fill the gap in the embankment on which the platform stands.

That was financed by a 'tenner a tonne' fundraiser.

The empty platform at Corwen station

The Weston Rhyn signal box had been at the Llangollen Station for many years, always destined to travel to Corwen.

It's movement, on a low lowder to Corwen, was in itself a major feat.

Now it is being slowly restored on site. Skilled volunteers put new panes of glass in, matching the glass that would have been in the signal box originally. And, when the outside is all complete volunteers will start to put all the levers and other pieces inside.

Other purchases were easier to take to Corwen.

Trust chairman, Pete Edwards, said: "The columns originally came from the London station of Blackfriars, once part of the South Eastern & Chatham Railway, formerly the London Chatham & Dover Railway prior to amalgamation.

"They were acquired from the preservation site at Pontypool & Blaenavon. The eight in situ are the best of a total of 14 after restoration. "

The public opening of the Corwen station is now in limbo. While the trust, which has control of the station, is very much still solvent and looking forward to seeing heritage trains pull into the station when lockdown allows, the operating arm of the railway is in the hands of the administrators.

The future of the incredibly popular steam and diesel railway line lies, like the track itself, in limbo.

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