New lease of life signalled for rediscovered Bundoran Junction rail junction box
A railway signal cabin that was used as a summer house in an orchard for nearly 60 years is to be restored to its former glory thanks to a windfall of nearly £10,000.
The Downpatrick and County Down Railway (DCDR) will restore the former Bundoran Junction North signal cabin with the help of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund's new small grants programme, Sharing Heritage.
When the box is installed at the heritage railway in Downpatrick, visitors will be able to see the signals in operation during museum open days.
In its working life the cabin used to control the north end of Bundoran Junction in Kilskeery, Co Tyrone, formerly a major junction for the Great Northern Railway (GNR). Trains diverged to travel to Omagh, Enniskillen, Fintona Junction and Bundoran, before the entire line was closed on October 1, 1957.
Railway chief civil engineer David Crone said: "Very little of the railway infrastructure from the west of the province survives so we are delighted to have secured this significant piece of heritage.
"While Bundoran Junction Station survives as a private dwelling, we didn't think any of the small signal cabins still survived until a chance discussion with one of our members and a Fermanagh local on boat in the middle of Lough Erne. He told us that the former Bundoran Junction North cabin had been saved to be used as a garden shed in Ballinamallard."
Mr Crone said they found that the top half of the signal cabin had lain for more than 50 years in a Ballinamallard orchard, but had begun to deteriorate due to age.
"Initial inspection revealed that although the base was rotten, the vast majority of the structure was sound and would be suitable for restoration and a new use."
Paul Mullan, of Heritage Lottery Fund NI, said: "Over our 20 years we have supported a range of projects with the DCDR to enable them to protect our railway heritage and share it with everyone."
The project is keen to obtain any information relating to the former use of the signal box.
It is seeking photographs of signalmen who would have operated it in GNR days .
If you can help, log onto www.downrail.co.uk