CAMPAIGNERS in Banbury face a nervous wait to find out if they will be able to save a historic signal box from demolition.

Earlier this year Network Rail announced plans to tear down two signal boxes on the track near Banbury station as part of £76m upgrades to the network.

But a group was set up on Facebook calling for the north box to be saved, as campaigners said it should instead be turned into an education centre for railway enthusiasts.

Following meetings with the operator, the group has been told to raise £60,000 to convert the box themselves, or it will be demolished in August.

The box, which was built in 1901, is scheduled to be taken down when the area's signalling system is upgraded and is moved from the town to the West Midlands.

The group has been told it needs to raise the money this week, although the final figure – which includes capital and running costs, plus legal fees and insurance – may be negotiated.

So far about £10,000 has been raised through donations by local people and businesses.

Banbury Civic Society chairman Rob Kinchin-Smith, who has been helping to lead the campaign, said: "We have been promoting the campaign on Just Giving and sending out leaflets to local businesses.

"There has been quite a generous response on our page and people have been donating up to £500 for it.

"We understand it is a big ask to provide this money in a week.

"We realise as well most companies have a fixed budget and as it's near the start of the year they have not decided what to spend the money on."

The campaign group is also in the process of applying for charitable status, which will make it easier for them to raise money.

Mr Kinchin-Smith said: "Having spoken to companies I know they can see the benefit of the project in terms of the sponsorship and having their name associated with the educational side."

Under the plans proposed by the group, the north box would be leased by Network Rail to the charitable trust.

The box would be turned into an education centre to allow railway enthusiasts to learn more about the history of the box and modern railway safety.

About 500 people have joined the Facebook page, which was set up at the beginning of February.

Nathan Bignell, 22, who helped create the group, said it would be a disaster if the box was "demolished and left in a skip".

It is likely the south box will need to be demolished when the track is realigned later this year.

To join the Facebook page search for "Banbury North Signal Box" on the website.

It is believed further discussions will be had at a meeting on Friday between Network Rail and the steering group of Project Crossover.