NETWORK Rail is appealing to residents to help find a home for Petersfield signal box as it wants use the land it sits on to rebuild the railway crossing.

The box was built in the 1880s and is still used today. Along the way it has been Grade II listed, meaning it can’t just be demolished.

Now Network Rail is appealing to Petersfield residents to help find a future for it – which could include taking it down and re-erecting it elsewhere.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “It is well-loved by the people of the town and those who work in it and maintain it.

“But we are about to replace the signalling on this part of the Portsmouth line, including rebuilding the level crossing.

“New modern and reliable signalling will be operated from a state-of-the-art centre at Basingstoke that has a planned completion of 2023.

“As Petersfield signal box is Grade II listed we need permission to do anything to it, so we are working with the local authority on how we can move forward.

“Unfortunately it would not be possible to give any public access to it in future, as access is via the railway itself.

“We would be delighted to work with the people of Petersfield to find a solution to what to do with it, as its location puts it – and us – in a difficult position.”

The box is a rare example of one with equipment developed by the London and South Western Railway, and so became Grade II listed.

In 1948 there were more than 10,000 signal boxes, but they have been gradually closed and replaced by remotely-operated electric systems, and now there are only about 700 left.

Some listed signal boxes have been moved intact to heritage railways such as the Watercress Line in Alresford, and The Railway Heritage Trust gives grants for their maintenance.

Residents with workable ideas, or heritage groups with serious proposals, should in the first instance email Network Rail at [email protected]