A look at London’s last lower quadrant semaphore signals

IMG_6940Greenford East Signal Box in north-west London is a remarkable survivor. This 1904-vintage Great Western Railway box is the last of its kind in Greater London, and the only place in the capital where the line is controlled by lower quadrant semaphore signals.

Not only this, but if one counts the daily Chiltern Railways “Parliamentary” train to and from London Paddington as a genuine service (see my earlier post: “Ghost train to Paddington”), then these are also the last semaphore signals in the London area controlling passenger services.

IMG_6920The box at Greenford is one of only four in the capital with any remaining mechanical signalling – the other three being on the nearby Dudding Hill freight line (see another of my earlier posts: “Dudding Hill; the line that time forgot”).

Photographing the box and its surviving semaphores is no easy matter. While they can be seen from passing Central Line tube trains, decent vantage points are as limited as the passing rail traffic.

IMG_6938The box itself can be seen behind a gate close to Greenford station, and from the station platforms there is a good view of up junction signals GE41/45.

Chiltern Railways’ 165023 passes Perivale station on 16 January 2018 with the 11.36 London Paddington-High Wycombe service – on time, but with no passengers on board!

But by far the best viewpoint, albeit a somewhat distant one, is from the country end of Perivale station on the Central Line.

IMG_6959.jpgHere, with the use of a zoom lens, it is possible to see both up and down junction signals, controlling access to the triangular junction with the West Ealing branch, along with up starter GE42 and, close to the box, down home GE55.

Pictured left on 16 January 2018 is Chiltern Railways’ 165023 passing signal GE56 on its journey to High Wycombe, while below – and photographed from Perivale station – an unidentified Class 66 waits at signal GE45 opposite Greenford East box for the route towards West Ealing with 6Z48 – 10.00 Calvert-Wembley

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