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Princes Risborough North Signal Box

It will take a while longer before our renovation works at Princes Risborough North Signal Box can make it look as good as this computer generated image. You could volunteer to help us! See our Membership & Volunteering page for details.

The Signal Box also has its own new website – www.risboroughbox.org.uk – where you can read in more depth about its history: from it being built, through its operational days, past the dark days of dereliction to its re-emergence as a working signal box on the Chinnor & Princes Risborough heritage railway. The website has some fascinating photographs from yesteryear as well as more details about our plans for the future.

Visitors to our railway who have taken the train to or from Princes Risborough Platform 4 will have seen the signal box standing proudly just north of the station, as it has for nearly 120 years. In its heyday it controlled the five railway tracks that radiated from Risborough – Watlington, Thame & Oxford, Birmingham, Aylesbury, and of course London. Since the new Integrated Electronic Control Centre at Marylebone took over signalling the Chiltern main line in 1991, our partially restored signal box now has the more humble task of safely controlling our heritage railway on its journey towards Chinnor.

The signal box has been fortunate to survive. Had it not been for local supporters successfully petitioning to have it listed a Grade II building, and the efforts of the volunteers at the C&PRRA in stopping the rot and decay, it is likely all traces would be long gone by now. Princes Risborough South Signal Box met that fate - it is now the station car park!

The aim from the outset was not only to restore the building to its former glory and get the signalling equipment working again, but also to open it to visitors as an example of our railway heritage, complete with ‘hands-on’ levers and instruments simulating how a signalman of the period would have controlled the lines. The signal box already controls the points and small disc signals that allow our engines to run round their train, ready to take it back to Chinnor.

If you’ve taken a train ride with us recently, you may have noticed several gleaming white signal posts have sprouted up at the side of the track at the Risborough end of the line. The most recent is the imposing branch signal just to the rear of the signal box. If you look closely at the photo, you can just make out another new signal post at the end of platform 4 in the distance. They will be needed as soon as we re-lay the second track - our ‘Independent Line’ - towards Thame Junction but in the meantime none of them can have the bright red signal arms attached.

The renovations inside the signal box are continuing and real progress has been made in the last few years with a large part of the main structural tasks complete. We are still repairing the rotten windows around the top part of the box, so you may see the occasional boarding go up whilst we take them out to work on them. The ongoing building work and its operational status mean we are normally unable to open the signal box to visitors or passengers, but we do hold a few rare Open Days during the year when we invite the public to come and see the progress we’ve made. We advertise forthcoming events on the Chinnor Railway and Risborough Box websites so please check back regularly.

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