When Network Rail was completing a £67 million project to re-double two sections of the Cotswold Line between Oxford and Worcester in 2011 there was not enough left in the kitty to re-signal the two re-doubled stretches of line – four miles from Charlbury to Ascott-under-Wychwood and 16 miles of line from Moreton-in-Marsh to Evesham.
So in a remarkably British piece of cost saving, semaphore signals were only replaced at Ascott-under-Wychwood and Evesham, while those at Moreton-in-Marsh were not only reprieved, along with the 1883-vintage GWR signal box, but a new semaphore was added at the south end of the down platform, in order to allow terminating trains from London to return without the need to cross to the up line and reverse back into platform two.
Moreton-in-Marsh is a charming and busy country station, with station signs having translations into Chinese and Japanese characters to reflect its role as a major Cotswolds tourist destination.
The small signal box, just to the south of the station on the up (southbound) side of the line, controls seven semaphore arms – a down starter (MM5), down home and outer home signals, an up starter (MM37), the new up starter on the down side (MM27) an advanced up starter and a smaller arm controlling exit from a siding on the west side of the line.
Photographing the station scene is very easy, with a bridge on London Road carrying the A44 trunk road just south of the station having a low parapet and giving a fine view of the station, signal box and two up starters in one direction – with the down starter also visible at the far end of platform one.
Looking south down the straight stretch of line towards a new footbridge and the long-closed Adlestrop station (of Edward Thomas’ celebrated poem fame), the remaining signals can be seen.