Group hopes to turn Lincoln signal box into floating Brayford heritage centre

Project partners are gathering support and hoping to turn the redundant Holmes Yard signal box on Brayford Wharf East in Lincoln into a floating heritage centre.

Peter Harrold, Chairman of the Mary Gordon Trust, is bringing together local history groups and people interested in the story of the Brayford Wharf, and campaigning to owners Network Rail to consider the plans for the listed building.

The Mary Gordon Trust is a registered charity set up in 1999 to restore the Mary Gordon, a historic pleasure boat formerly based in Lincoln.

On researching the history of the boat, Peter has collected a large number of historic photographs and documents relating to the Brayford.

The idea behind the centre is that the documents and photographs would form the basis of the collection.

Much of Peter’s collection depicts trading barges and associated buildings which once surrounded the pool in its heyday as a commercial port – the site now occupied by the University of Lincoln.

One of a number of photographs in Peter's collection, dating back to the 1900s.

One of a number of photographs in Peter’s collection, dating back to the 1900s.

A Civic Barge pictured on the Brayford in 1911.

A Civic Barge pictured on the Brayford in 1911.

The trust has formed a close relationship with Les Reid, a former bargee now in his 70’s who lives in Newark. He created a heritage barge the ‘Leicester Trader’ moored in Newark which depicts the working life of the Trent barges.

David Bradford, owner of the ‘Farmar’ a historic motor yacht used in the Second World War, is also said to be keen to be involved.

Peter Harrold says the plans for the signal box, which is a listed building, would see it moved it a few yards on to the waterside on a concrete ‘pad’.

Designs for the new Heritage centre on the Brayford.

Designs for the new Heritage centre on the Brayford: Stem Architects

He explained: “The lower half could be used to house the heritage project, and perhaps include a small café – permission has been given for a window on the north side overlooking Brayford.

“I understand Network Rail are keen to finding alternative use for this iconic building, but despite numerous e mails and phone calls we have had no response.

“This would be another piece in the jigsaw of Lincoln’s history, complimenting the newly re-furbished castle, The Collection and the Museum of Lincolnshire Life. It will fill a gap in the story of Lincolnshire’s waterways; a way of life now almost forgotten.

“Hopefully other groups with interests in waterways, railways and local history will join us in this project.”

The signal box would be lifted from it's current location next to the railway and given new windows. Image: Stem Architects

The signal box would be lifted from it’s current location next to the railway and given new windows. Image: Stem Architects

Peter is encouraging anyone wishing to support the project or willing to donate Brayford history photographs and artefacts to contact him on peterharrold@adamsfs.org.uk.

Karl McCartney, the Conservatives’ Parliamentary Candidate at the General Election, has also offered to support to the group. Karl said: “I think this is a very worthwhile project which will bring visitors to the Brayford area and tell the fascinating story of Lincoln’s Waterways and their varied history, which were reasons for Lincoln’s commercial and industrial growth in the 19th and 18th centuries.

“Of course, the natural Brayford pool and the proximity to the hill on which our great Cathedral sits were also reasons for the Romans settling here too.”