Despite having been scheduled for replacement during 2016, Yeovil Pen Mill signal box remains an isolated outpost of semaphore signalling in the south of England, where the nearest surviving manual signals are those at Liskeard in Cornwall and at Marchwood on the freight-only Fawley branch near Southampton.
Pen Mill is a delightful station, standing on the eastern side of the town alongside the Pittards leather goods factory, with relatively easy opportunities to photograph signalling at either ends of the station and two excellent pubs close by (the Great Western and the Pen Mill Hotel) to pass the time between trains.
The semaphores were partially renewed in 2009, leaving a curious situation today where there is a trio of recently-installed upper quadrant signal brackets for trains heading south towards Weymouth or Yeovil Junction and a trio of traditional GWR/Western Region single arm lower quadrant signals in the up (northbound) direction, of which the only one in view is the up starter (YPM4), 100 yards beyond the signal box at the north end of the station.
Pen Mill has a curious layout with three platform faces, although when trains use the up line, flanked by platforms 1 and 2, only the train doors on platform 1 are normally opened. Platform 3 is the eastern side of the island platform and is normally used by Weymouth-bound services and by the irregular South West Trains services from Waterloo to Yeovil Junction that have travelled via Westbury and Castle Cary.
Regular GWR services on the Bristol-Weymouth route are normally formed of Class 150 and 153 units, but the station also sees SWT Class 159 units and on summer Saturdays an HST set is used to provide additional seating on one of the Weymouth services.
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