New lease of life for country’s oldest railway station sign

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Restored running In Board at West Runton

A Norfolk railway station sign which is believed to be the oldest of its kind in the country has been restored to its former glory, thanks to a project between train operator Greater Anglia, the Bittern Line Community Rail Partnership and Essex based company Dura Composites.

The sign at West Runton railway station in Norfolk has been refurbished, just in time for its 100th birthday.

It was produced locally in Melton Constable, Norfolk, and was installed on 21 December 1921.

It is believed to be the only board of its kind on the UK railway network. There is one more sign at Gedney in Lincolnshire, however the station closed closed in the 1950s.

During WW2 the original letters on the sign were all removed to prevent any invasion forces determining their positions. Over the years, the letters have been replaced several times, however they were made with timber and weathered quickly.

In the early 1990s the board underwent restoration by leading expert Nigel Digby using wooden lettering. However, 30 years on and following several replacement letters being provided, it was hoped to find a more permanent solution that could better withstand the coastal climate.

Now the sign has been given a new lease of life after Essex-based Dura Composites created and installed the new letters free of charge.

Dura Composites Fabrication Team members Jack Partridge (left) and Dave Parkin (right) at West Runton

Chris Hawkins, Asset Inspection Quality Controller at Greater Anglia, said: "We are very grateful to Dura for their help in restoring this running board and preserving this important piece of railway history.

"Their in-house grapic designer has a degree in graphic communication and typography and was able to identify the closest modern day match to the original font so the letters could be replicated.

"We’re so pleased with the finished result and hope it will be appreciated by those who use the station and people living in the local area."

Martin Halliday, Development Officer for Community Rail Norfolk, added: "We were delighted to work with Greater Anglia and Dura Composites to restore this unique piece of railway infrastructure. "The sign is a familiar landmark for many thousands of rail users and is undoubtedly one of the most iconic original station running in boards still to be seen on the UK rail network.

"We are hugely grateful to everyone involved in the project."

Stuart Burns, Managing Director for Dura Composites, said: "We were very pleased to be asked to help on such an important project. Through initial discussions we felt that our composite technology would work well in this new application. However, following the selection of appropriate font and precision CNC works we were delighted to see such a brilliant result following the enthusiastic on-site work from our experienced team members."

The running In board before the work took place