Network Rail is set to offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for railway enthusiasts and architecture fans to tour the recently decommissioned Birmingham New Street power signal box.
Following 56 years of service, the landmark closed down last December as the responsibility for the UK’s busiest non-London station’s train movements was passed over to the West Midlands Signalling Centre.
With demand expected to be high, the 60 available tickets will be allocated randomly after a two-week ballot process, which is set to close on Friday the 17th of March. If successful, the lucky people will be contacted and subsequently treated to one of five 45-minute tours on Friday the 31st of March.
On the tour, railway staff with over 70 years of accumulative experience of working with the signal box will guide people around three of the building’s five floors. Visitors will learn about how the signal box worked, the basics of signalling and how the building will be utilised and appreciated in the future.
Network Rail’s Central Route Director, Denise Wetton, said: “We were overwhelmed by the response when we announced that the Birmingham power signal box would be closing, so it felt like the right thing to do to open up the doors and show off this local landmark which played a crucial role for six decades at the heart of Britain's railway network.
“I hope that people will enjoy this rare look behind the scenes and that it inspires people not only to learn about the important part this building and the people who worked in it played in the railway’s past – but also discover more about how we're improving the railway for the future, too.”
The historic building was given Grade II listed status in 1995, commemorating its “dramatic and exceptional architectural quality” and “strongly sculptural form,” with the site also receiving plaudits for being one of Birmingham’s best surviving examples of Brutalist architecture.
Once the tours have taken place, Network Rail says the building will get ready for the next stage of its life as a training centre for the next generation of railway signallers.
To enter the tour ballot, click here.