As regular readers of this blog will know, the museum is currently restoring the external fabric of Borough Market Junction Signal Box. The work is being funded through the generous support of the Friends of the National Railway Museum, especially the Southern Branch.
Restoring an object like Borough Market is a privilege and a challenge. The privilege is in working with such a wonderful object and the challenge is to gain an accurate understanding of the object’s story. Lets start with a simple question: when was it built?
According to the archives (that came from BR Southern region in 1976) it was built???? It does not say. In fact, the more you look, the more you find the information is just not there. Most written sources start the story in 1926, with the installation of colour light signalling; but I knew this box was a South Eastern Railway design and I knew the junction was much older.
Why? Because there has been a Borough Market Junction since 1866, when Cannon Street Station opened; indeed, there was a crash there in 1869, triggered by a youth ‘slouching’ on the leaver frame. However, the 1875 Ordinance Survey Map reveals this Borough Market was in a different location to our Borough Market. Whoom!!!
Luckily, I was able to phone a friend; in the form of the Signalling Record Society. The Signalling Record Society is a specialist group who study historic railway signalling and as it happened one of there members had been conducting research in a recently acquired archive. Hidden within these papers was the written proof of our objects creation date.
So when was the Borough Market Junction we are we dealing with built? Well it seems this is the second Signal Box to bear the name and it opened in 1895.