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Signals and signal boxes

A collection of pictures taken during the 1950-80s.

Pictures around Banbury are in a separate section, see link at the bottom.

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


Old slide reprocessed and recaptioned

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The end of a balmy summer's day as the signalman relaxes in the cabin at Blea Moor on 19th August 1983. This time I did take the man's name and address, but alas it got lost. Now, some 35 years later, he's been identified as relief signalman Roy Sedgwick, and he's still with us! Many thanks, Tom Trusler. At last I can make amends: I've made a better job of the scan of the original slide and shall be able to send it off.

It's at times like this that I remember Jack Cowperthwaite who lived locally, here in Banbury. He was born and bred in the Dales and had started his railway career in that terrible winter of 1947, at Ribblehead, where he was put up in a caravan in the station yard. He was off duty at Blea Moor when the "Thames Clyde" was derailed in April 1952 right in front of the signal box, and the gaffer phoned him and said, "Get up there and help all you can, and make sure he finished his shift. If he leaves (through shock), we'll never see him again". It was a traumatic event but with Jack by his side, the man recovered well and stayed on the railway.

Click on the image for an enlargement

1 - Signals on the GCR London Extension

As far as I know, all these pictures were taken at the southern end of the Extension towards Marylebone and I can identify few of the locations. If anybody can help, please get in touch (via Contact/feedback link on the menus)!

GCR sig 6

Nearly all are original ex-GCR lower quadrant signals, the first ones on wooden posts; a simple Home one to start with. The height is modest and it's in first class condition on a fine sunny day. Photo: Author's collection.

GCR sig 7

Clearly taken near the above signal and of a similar height but a splitting type. Both were at Quainton Road. Some of the Romney Huts in the background survive, now housing the museum (thanks, Andy Emmerson)! Photo: Author's collection.

, GCR sig 8

Another simple Home signal, but very low for visibility under an overbridge. Equally unusually, the base has not been painted black. Milepost 36 would have been just north of Stoke Mandeville. Photo: Author's collection.

GCR sig 5

This Home signal has been fitted to a concrete post, though whether of GCR origin or a later LNER installation I cannot say. Is that a milepost nearby, No 35 with three upward arrows? On the GCR line that would have been a mile south of Stoke Mandeville. Photo: Author's collection.

GCR sig 4

This scene was at Wembley Hill, just over 6 miles north of Marylebone on the GW&GC Joint line and contains three different fixtures:

- nearest the camera is an ex-GCR lower quadrant gantry. It looks like one of the posts carries a low-level repeater.
- to the right stand similar Home and Distant arms but on a concrete post.
- in between there appears to be a replacement signal, based on an LNER lattice post and Upper Quadrant arms. Photo: Author's collection.

GCR sign 3

The same signal gantry, from the other side. Platforms for Wembley Hill station lurk in the mist. Photo: Author's collection.

GCR sig 1

More complex triple-post ex-GCR lower quadrant signals at an unknown location. Photo: Author's collection.

GCR sig 2

The same signals from the opposite direction, with the whole of the ex-GCR water tower in view. Photo: Author's collection.


2 - Signals and signal boxes in general

All these are in chronological order.

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Wortley South was an ex-GNR/LNER design near Copley Hill, Leeds, by Wortley South Jc., at the SW corner of the triangle that surrounded the engine shed and carriage sidings. The tracks behind are from King's Cross and Wakefield to Leeds Central. Immediately in front is the entrance to the loco depot, used by locos coming on shed after reversing round the triangle. Seen in 1964. How free we were in those days to wander around!

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Another view of the signal box, with the signalmen's coal bunker

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At Stourton, "Britannia" No 70021 Morning Starcomes off the running lines towards the engine shed, passing a WD 2-8-0 waiting with coal empties in the lay-bye. All the signals here were still ex-Midland Railway, the nearer ones modernised with Upper Quadrant arms. In the distance, two are still carrying Lower Quadrant arms.

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Alan Pegler's Flying Scotsman passes under the ex-Midland Railway signal gantry at Stourton. The original Lower Quadrant arms had been modernised by Upper Quadrants. Wakefield Rd. signal box (shown below) was behind me.

Visible in the distance in both pictures is another, low signal box, not unlike Wakefield Road shown below. Feedback from Keith Long who worked at Engine Shed Junction (at Holbeck) is:

"We always called that box "Stourton Down", but I think its proper name was Stourton Down Sidings. It didn't have anything to do with the main line, only controlling the points and signals in these sidings. The signals on the gantry were:

No 16 (off) Down Main Home signal, and underneath it, Hunslet South Jct Down Outer Distant
No 33 Down No 1 Goods Home
No 22 Down No 2 Goods Home
No 34 Engine Road Home

The last named was used by locos coming off trains for Stourton or Holbeck engine sheds".

The Ian Allan special was "The Darlington Marquess Railtour". The main part consisted of 8 carriages from King's Cross behind the Pacific, and a smaller portion from Leeds, behind 3442 The Great Marquess. They were joined at Harrogate for the final leg to Darlington. Coming back, division was at York.

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Wakefield Rd. signal box was a Midland Railway design near Stourton, a mile or so south of Leeds City on the line to Derby and St.Pancras. The main signals controlled the line into Leeds, while the shunting arms covered sidings which I believe are still used today. 1976.

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Wakefield Rd

The same signals at Stourton, looking south. On the other side of the main line was a carriage and wagon repair shop. The track coming off to the right once led to Stourton engine shed (55B)

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Ex-GCR Barnsley Junction signal box seen from the ground. As can be seen, it was an enormous signal box and the point at which several collieries delivered coal to be marshalled and hauled over Woodhead. 23rd June 1981.

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Barnsley Jc, an interior view. To my lasting regret and shame, I never made a note of the signalman's name. 23rd June 1981.

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Elsecar Jc was at Wath Marshalling Yards and fitted with electro-mechanical short sliding levers instead of the old fashioned lever frame. Once again, I failed to get the signalman's name. All this was swept away later in the the year when the Manchester-Sheffiedl-Wath system was closed. 23rd June 1981.

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New addition - Strensall is on the line between York and Malton and this is the signal and level crossing keeper's box in the early 1970s.

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New addition - A view from the other side of the signal and level crossing keeper's box in the early 1970s.

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Knapton signal and crossing keeper's box, midway between Malton and Scarborough. With the original gates. Ex-NER. June1981

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Knapton signal and crossing keeper's box, midway between Malton and Scarborough, an end view. Ex-NER. June1981.

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Kirkham Abbey, midway between York and Malton, the ex-NER signal and crossing keeper's box. June1981

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This ex-NER slotted post, lower-quadrant signal near Haxby on the York-Scarborough line was one of the last to survive and is seen here in June 1981 with a DMU to Scarborough passing by.

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Ex-NER slotted post signal near Haxby - a close up.

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Ex-NER slotted post signal near Haxby - the height, needed for greater visibility in this location, fair took the breath away. In this position, the arm and spectacles appear to be one-piece, but compare with the next picture.

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Ex-NER slotted post signal near Haxby - with the arm "off". The arm and spectacles are separate and when the arm falls, levers make the spectacles go up.

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{modal images/historical/signals_and_signal_boxes/sig_blea_moor_31404_1983_8_19_2000_1000_72.jpg|title=31404 at Blea Moor|width=2000|height=1000} Blea Moor{/modal}

A scene from the 1980s when the future of the Settle & Carlisle line was in doubt and there were only four daily services over the line. 31404 has emerged from the tunnel with the 16.35pm Carlise-Leeds and is about to pass Blea Moor signal box. 19th August 1983.

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A view of Blea Moor signal box and the last remaining cottage. 19th August 1983.

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The end of a balmy summer's day as the signalman relaxes in the cabin at Blea Moor on 19th August 1983. This time I did take the man's name and address, but alas it got lost. Now, some 35 years later, he's been identified as relief signalman Roy Sedgwick, and he's still with us! Many thanks, Tom Trusler. At last I can make amends: I've made a better job of the scan of the original slide and shall be able to send it off.

It's at times like this that I remember Jack Cowperthwaite who lived locally, here in Banbury. He was born and bred in the Dales and had started his railway career in that terrible winter of 1947, at Ribblehead, where he was put up in a caravan in the station yard. He was off duty at Blea Moor when the "Thames Clyde" was derailed in April 1952 right in front of the signal box, and the gaffer phoned him and said, "Get up there and help all you can, and make sure he finished his shift. If he leaves (through shock), we'll never see him again". It was a traumatic event but with Jack by his side, the man recovered well and stayed on the railway.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Signal boxes and signalling at Banbury are here.

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