Kilrea signal box restored to former glory

A signal box, orginally from Kilrea Railway station is to be put on show at Garvagh Museum.

The railway box is believed to be the last surviving signal box from the Derry Central line.

Kilrea station was the halfway point on the Derry Central line, which was opened on February 18, 1800. The original plan was to bypass Kilrea, but Lady Garvagh invested 1,000 in shares to the line, as she felt it would benefit her tenants.

The railway closed to passengers on Black Saturday of 1950.

However, trains took people to the Twelfth in 1951, 1954, 1955 and 1957. The trains were also used during the Royal Visit in 1953. Goods trains went from Kilrea to Magherafelt until 1959, and the station remained open until 1965.

Station Master, Gerald Ewart said that after the lines had been lifted, the cabin was used as a ‘warm and cosy place for the men to have their tea’ and for cutting staff’s hair in the cabin.

The restored signal box will be on show in the garden beside Garvagh Museum.

This is not the only piece of local history set for the museum. A painting of a member of the Canning family is to be donated to the museum. The museum is located within the walled gardens of Garvagh House where the Cannings lived.

Garvagh museum contains around 2000 exhibits which span from 3000BC to the first part of the 20th century.

Among the exhibits are period rooms which show rural living in the early part of the 20th century.

Garvagh Museum is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 2 to 5pm until the end of August.

Groups can be admitted at other times by arrangement.

STORY: Margaret Gilmore