An island of semaphores in North Wales

Completion of a project to re-signal 50 miles of the North Wales Main Line in Spring 2018 means that anyone travelling along the coast by rail towards Holyhead will now wait until reaching the Isle of Anglesey before encountering any semaphore signalling.

Once on the island, though, there are four fascinating outposts of mechanical signalling along the final 19 miles of the route, including one of our oldest working signal boxes and one of only two working semaphore distant signals to survive in Wales.

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Semaphores on the Windermere branch

Along with the splendid Furness and Cumbrian Coast Lines, one other Lake District location to retain semaphore signalling is Burneside, the second of three intermediate stations on the ten-mile branch line from Oxenholme to Windermere.

While the single-track branch has no passing loops and operates on a “one engine in steam” basis, Burneside Higher Level Crossing, south-east of Burneside station, is protected by a pair of home signals controlled from a small frame across the road from the crossing keeper’s Portacabin accommodation. 

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Back to Barrow

Travelling by train to Millom on the Cumbrian Coast for the visit to Foxfield featured in my previous post gave me an excuse to spend a couple of hours on Tuesday, 4 May 2021 reacquainting myself with the fine collection of semaphores at Barrow-in-Furness. 

While new rolling stock in the shape of the CAF Class 195 units have appeared on services towards Lancaster and Manchester, the signalling infrastructure at Barrow remains happily unchanged and stuck in a delightful time warp. 

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Fantastic Foxfield

Time seems to stand still in signalling terms along the delightful Cumbrian Coast Line, a route that is our finest remaining outpost of semaphore signalling, but change is taking place at Foxfield, a location featured in my December 2020 post on working distant signals around Millom.

Paying a return visit to seek out a couple of photographic locations that I was unable to get to in December, I learn that the two Foxfield distant signals are being motorised, ending the heroic pulls signallers have had to make from the station’s 1879-vintage wooden signal box.

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Semaphore swansong in South Wales

Time is fast running out for the last two outposts of mechanical signalling on the South Wales Main Line, with planned re-signalling of 35 route miles from Swansea to Whitland by September 2023 spelling an end to the semaphores at Ferryside and at Pembrey & Burry Port. 

Paying a return visit to Pembrey on 30 April 2021, my aim was to find locations both east and west of the station from which to photograph the five remaining semaphores controlled by the former Pembrey East Signal Box.

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