Quick search:

Full search

Banbury signal boxes

It was announced in 2015 that the last two signal boxes at Banbury (there used to be five altogether) are to be taken out so here are pictures taken from the 1980s and onwards, beginning with the previous one to be eliminated at Banbury Junction, followed by Banbury North and Banbury South, which are scheduled for removal later this year (2016). Steam-era picture can be found separately (see links below). I should add that when the interior pictures were taken some thirty-five years ago, it was common for signalmen to invite visitors to their cabins. That is no longer the case, indeed it is now an offence punishable by dismissal.

All pictures are my personal Copyright, no reproduction without prior agreement.

Banbury Junction

This signal box once stood at the north end of the sidings and marshalling yard where the Banbury Branch came in from the former GC Section. It wasn't just large, it became the largest junction box on the Western Region. But the Banbury Branch closed in the 1960s and the yards were gradually reduced, and eventually removed altogether.

In these pictures from 1979 and the early '80s remnants of the yards were still in place near Banbury North but here only the running lines remained and sidings that were later used to store hard core for construction of the M40. Today that is occupied by Lafarge Aggregates. And the Up Goods Loop has been extended as far as where the junction used to be.

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

A misty winter's day c1978 sees a Class 47 with a northbound express at Banbury Junction. In the distance the inner home signal (all that remains of a more complex signal) is "off". In the Up direction, the inner home is off for a southbound train, but not the distant. The junction signal to the left was for what remained of the yards and the Up goods loop. To right are the sidings later taken over by Lafarge Aggregates. Comparison with steam era pictures may come as quite a shock!

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

A general view looking towards Banbury in November 1979. The signalling had been simplified leaving a conventional, single-post inner home in the middle distance.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

A closer view of the inner signals looking south with both arms off for the Up main line. A Class 25 is approaching with two 4-wheel wagons. 11/1979.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

Seen from across the tracks, with a simplified name board stating simply "Banbury Junction". 11/1979.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

Seen against a wintry sun, the classic arrangement of steps into the signal box. This set was painted black with a white handrail and extra support had been added. The attractive brickwork, often taken for granted shows nicely.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

It's 10.09am on a Saturday in November 1979 as Aubrey Radbourn pulls a home signal off at the north end of the lever frame.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

Now at the south end, Aubrey releases a home signal as a Class 47 speeds by. It looks like an empty MGR coal train heading north. November 1979.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

Finally, with a low wintry sun streaming in through the windows, it's time to complete the log. 11/1979.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

Close-up of an identifying plate going back to the Big Four period, showing DOWN MAIN AND L.N.E.R. DETONATORS OFF | ON, which being on a white (spare) lever, I cannot explain! I need to get hold of Aubrey: he lived next door until recently and is now across town.11/1979.

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

A parting view of Banbury Junction and the Up signals as the sun begins to set. 11/1979.

Banbury North

I never gained access to this signal box so no interior views, I'm afraid, but several exterior ones with trains passing.

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

A general view from 2011 shows a smart and well-maintained signal box, similar to the one at Banbury Junction but a couple of feet lower to help sight under the road overbridge. At the time, the steps had been painted chocolate brown with black top for the handrails. 28-3-11.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

A closer view of the steps and the vintage GWR cast iron plate on the door; all very nice to see, only spoiled by the yellow edges.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

An enlargement showing the original GWR notice on the door in perfect condition. :)

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

The rear of the cabin tended to be shaded by trees but the scene is clear on a slightly misty day. Note how the steps were repainted from dark to light brown. The track, reading from left to right, is:

- exit from No 1 Platform and Down Goods Loop
- the running lines
- Up Goods Loop
- Up siding.

Further over, a housing estate was built over the site of the marshalling yards proper. 2-5-12.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

An end view of the signal box with a Glasgow-Southampton cruise liner charter passing, headed by 37608+37601. Barely visible on the rear was 47810. Wedesday 2nd May 2012.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

A few days later the sun shines on the "Hampshire Hotchpotch" as it passes by. This charter ran Crewe-Eastleigh-Southampton Western Dock and back and was headed by 20312+20398 with 37409 Lord Hinton on the rear. Saturday 5th May 2012.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

Another charter, two years later, headed by D1035 Western Champion looks superb with its matching BR-period livery chocolate and cream coaches. Once again, the signalman has slid open a window and is leaning out to get a good view. 9-2-14.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

It's just gone 7am and the morning sun is slanting across the tracks and onto the signal box, now with hanging baskets on the steps, as it prepares for the most complex working of the day.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

A Mainline Silver set - the last one with slam door coaches and still in BR blue & grey livery - was stored overnight on the west side of the station in the Cattle Market Sidings to be used for the 07.44 Banbury-Marylebone. Here it is being drawn out of the Up Goods Loop and across the running lines to the Down Goods Loop. At the near end was recently received DVLT 82306, still in Arriva blue livery. In the distance is 67020 still in maroon livery. 21-5-14

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

After a quarter of an hour in the Down Goods Loop, the train is drawing into No1 platform for the 07.44 departure. The platform was made bi-directional to allow this manoeuvre but will become a thing of the past when the carriage sidings and shed are built at the south side of the station, where the engine shed used to be. 21-5-14.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

A final view taken from the north end of the station shows the wonderful lower quadrant signal and Banbury North signal box just beyond the overbridge. At the time, it was still painted in traditional white. The change to grey was, to my eye, detrimental. The picture was taken in 1984 at dusk on Boxing Day when the station was closed and the lights turned off. 26-12-84.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Banbury South to follow....

Banbury South

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

A panoramic vew of Banbury South from the station platform in 1984 shows the semaphore signals still in use, and the clock showing 7.5pm in the evening. From the left the signals are:

- Up Goods Loop
- bay platform 4
- main line platform 3

Swinging into the station is 50006 Neptune with a rush-hour train from Paddington that terminated in Platform 2. The loco ran round the carriages - unusually all still Mk.1 - transferred them to Platform 1, then returned to Oxford with a stop at King's Sutton along the way. August 1984.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

The same place on a foggy night with the Up starters and the clock, which is showing 11.25pm, and the signal box well lit up. The external lamps were put on because of the fog. January 1983.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

And looking towards the station. The green hue was provided by fluorescent lighting on the station, later changed to sodium lights with an orange cast. On the left, the goods shed was still standing, to be demolished the following year and a new building for Network Rail built in its place. 1/1983.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

Revised caption - In the old days when signalmen would invite you inside the box (nowadays it's a dismissable offence), I took some pictures inside Banbury South at dusk. This one is looking north with a young Pete Saunders posing for the picture. The station is clearly visible through the end windows with a DMU in the bay platform. c1980. Peter was the last man on duty when this signal box closed at 00.20 on 30th July 2016. Now to make some prints for him off these two pictures, a sad tale of neglect, I have to confess, for I was young and having written his name down, managed to lose it. :(

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

The view looking south with the main line curving into the distance.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

Another view at night but some thirty years later. How much has changed? Well, the signal box is still there and so are the lower quadrant semaphores for the Up Goods Loop and the bay platform, but the Up main line is now protected by a colour light signal. To the right is one of two low semaphores that were installed to make platforms 1 and 2 bi-directional. 66522 is waiting in the Up Goods Loop. 14th March 2011.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

The two new semaphores are seen in this view from the station car park. Martin Crane, who worked at Banbury North for 14 years and was the last signalman there when it closed at 02.00 on 30th July, 2016, advises that, ahem, they did not come from the Severn Valley Railway (I have learned a little about the credibility of some local chaps)! They were brand new from Collis Engineering (he thinks) as part of the turn-back facility required by the Reading rebuilding and resignalling scheme possessions the other year. The spectacle plates were not traditional castings but fabricated from steel plate, while the finials were cast in solid aluminium. Say what you like about Network Rail, this is a really heartening story of people caring: they could have erected any old signals to hand but went to the trouble of making GWR-style replicas to marry with the local surroundings. For me it makes the loss of the semaphores more poignant, knowing that the spirit was maintained for so long. Then again, I could be talking a load of dewy-eyed twaddle...

66082 is heading north with coal empties from Didcot power station. 27th April 2011. This long-standing traffic ceased two years later when the power station closed on 22nd March 2013. So many things that we take for granted but are here today, gone tomorrow. Banbury, for so long a beautiful kind of time capsule is looking rather modern these days.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

Add finally for now, a view from the other side of the tracks with the "Hampshire Hotchpotch" charter headed by 20312+20398 drawing away from its stop to pick up passengers. 5th May 2012.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Banbury station pictures are here.

Banbury yards and freight pictures are here.

Banbury express passenger pictures are here.

Banbury loco shed pictures are here.

Banbury light engines are here.

Ardley-Greaves Siding limestone traffic pictures are here.

Banbury Merton Street station is here.

Latest News

Ally Pally show 2014

London Festival of Railway Modelling

Ally Pally demo 2014

A post-match report, so to speak...

Read more ...

LNER Passenger Trains and Formations

The book took 12 years for me and Clive to complete and, though I say so myself, Ian Allan have made a beautiful job of it (see full description and sample pages). Vol.2 about the Secondary Services should follow in a year or so's time.

Copyright © S.W.Banks 2014    Privacy Policy    Terms & Conditions    Design by PageUp