Among a number of marvellous locations in Cornwall to savour GWR-style lower quadrant signalling, one of the most attractive must surely be the delightful town of Lostwithiel, standing on the banks of the River Fowey, with its station and signal box situated just over the 16th century Lostwithiel Bridge from the town itself.
Lostwithiel’s 1893 GWR signal box, known as Lostwithiel Crossing, boasts a 63-lever frame and gained a Grade II Listing in 2013 for being one of 26 “highly distinctive” boxes that were selected for listing in a joint project undertaken by English Heritage and Network Rail.
As at Liskeard, the box stands at the eastern end of the down platform, from where it controls an adjacent level crossing as well as goods loops beyond, while in the down direction it controls access to the Fowey Branch, which lost its passenger service in January 1965, but remains open for china clay traffic to the unloading point at Carne Point, near Fowey.
Approaching on a westbound train, the first signal you will pass is down home LL58, with LL40 controlling exit from the down goods loop. In the up direction, there are a trio of semaphores to look out for, with section signal LL8 quickly followed by LL6 being an advanced starter with a second arm giving access to the up goods loop. Looking east once you are on the platform, you will see up starter LL5 at the platform end opposite the signal box.
For a vantage point looking down onto the two goods loops it is worth taking an easy five-minute walk east from the station then up Mill Street to the main A390 trunk road, from whose bridge over the line there is a view of the line as it curves right towards the station.
Looking west from the down platform and just beyond an impressively tall palm tree stands down starter LL57, with a junction arm for the Fowey branch. Another interesting feature to note here is an early enamel “9 Car” sign in chocolate and cream, dating from the earliest days of BR (Western Region) diesel multiple unit operation in Cornwall.
Beyond the platform ends, up home signal LL3 stands at a point where the line curves to the left and makes for an attractive photo-spot. Beyond this point, and sadly out of view, except from a passing train, are an up outer home signal (LL2) and a signal controlling exit from the Fowey branch (LL4).
Taking a walk along the western side of the river to the the southern edge of the town, you can follow a path under the railway at the Fowey branch junction and see LL4, but being below the level of the line, and with numerous trees and bushes alongside the line, there does not seem to be any decent vantage point to photograph one of the Class 66-hauled china clay trains.
Pictured below on 27 June 2018 is GWR 150266 arriving at Lostwithiel with the 13.29 Gunnislake-Penzance service and passing 66031 in the down goods loop with a train of empty china clay wagons from Carne Point bound for Goonbarrow Junction
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