Somersault survivors on NI Railways


When Castlerock Signal Box closed in November 2016 it brought an end to regular use of mechanical signalling on Northern Ireland Railways, but did not completely spell the end of its distinctive somersault signals.

IMG_8082Pay a visit to Portrush, at the end of a short branch line from Coleraine, on the Belfast to Londonderry main line, and you are in for a signalling treat.

Although having long since ceased to see daily use, the signal box remains, together with five of the distinctive wooden-posted somersault signals.

There are questions about the future redevelopment of Portrush station, but for the moment its layout and signalling remain frozen in time, and see occasional use when one of the famous “Portrush Flyer” steam excursions from Belfast visits the seaside resort and the locomotive needs to run around its train.

IMG_7948Arriving on the hourly 12-minute trip from Coleraine, one somersault signal stands at the end of the platform at Dhu Varren station, and another – with shunting arm below – on the curve into the terminus (pictured), with a third standing front of the 1923-vintage box.

All three of these signals are left in the off position, while two further arms, controlling exit from the normally-disused platforms 2 and 3 (pictured below) are set at danger. Both the Water Tower behind these signals and the signal box itself are listed buildings, so they, at least, have a secure future.IMG_7939