Interlude at Inverkeilor

Among ten remaining outposts of mechanical signalling along the scenic East Coast Main Line in Scotland, one fine spot that I had not previously managed to visit is Inverkeilor, a quiet village just off the A92 trunk road mid-way between Arbroath and Montrose.

While retaining its 1881-vintage North British Railway signal box, Inverkeilor lost its station almost a century ago (22 September 1930) so getting there, as I did on 8 June 2021, requires a ten-minute £2.50 journey from Arbroath on the hourly Stagecoach X7 bus.

LNER 800109 approaches Inverkeilor with 1W02 from Leeds (07.08) to Aberdeen

Once in the village it is only a short walk down Station Road to a fine vantage point for seeing the signal box and its four semaphores, with a view looking south past the site of the former station, and the signal box standing on the right hand (west) side of the line.

43136/032 pass Inverkeilor with 1A59 from Glasgow QS (10.41) to Aberdeen

Finest of the four semaphore arms controlled by Inverkeilor Signal Box’s 22-lever frame is down home signal IK12, a tall lattice post to the south of the box, with the other two most visible from Station Road being down section signal IK11, closest to the bridge, and up home IK6. 

Almost out of sight from this bridge is up section signal IK7, which can be seen from the A92 as the road crosses the line through an under-bridge south of the village and signal box, though taking a pleasant 10-minute walk from Station Road I failed to find any vantage point to photograph the signal close up. 

170412 passes Inverkeilor with 1T20 from Aberdeen (11.45) to Glasgow QS

Day-time passenger traffic passing Inverkeilor currently comprises Scotrail Inter7City 2+4 HST units working between Aberdeen, Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh Waverley, with the odd appearance of Class 170/158 units, along with LNER Azuma Class 80x units on Aberdeen-London King’s Cross services and a single Class 221-worked XC service from Aberdeen to Plymouth. 

43003/169 approach IK11 with 1A71 from Edinburgh W. (11.32) to Aberdeen

Freight action along this stretch of the ECML is very limited, but one working which I had previously seen at Carnoustie, and which seems pretty regular, is a Class 70-hauled trainload of cement tankers from Oxwellmains Lafarge (near Dunbar) to Craiginches at Aberdeen. 

Return to Arbroath

Alas, though, it was cancelled on the day of my visit to Inverkeilor, so in the hope of photographing some of the limited freight movement in the area I returned to Arbroath, where I took the opportunity to photograph again the magnificent Arbroath North Signal Box and some of its semaphores.

43151/152 depart Arbroath with 1B32 from Aberdeen (13.13) to Edinburgh W.

Most noteworthy amongst these are two lattice posts, with AH16 being the up starter at the south end of platform 1 (photo above), while down section signal AH45 stands north of a road bridge near the signal box, alongside the tall up home signal AH15 which has a mini shunting arm (AH19) on a bracket below.

43127/125 pass AH45 with 1A63 from Glasgow Queen Street (12.39) to Aberdeen

The best vantage point for seeing these semaphores is a footbridge to the north of the road bridge, from where it was also possible to see up outer home AH14 on my only previous visit but, like signal BA6 at Blair Atholl – featured in my previous blog – it has now been lost to lineside vegetation.

It was a case of second time lucky for freight action when DRS 66429 appeared on schedule at 15.10 with an intermodal train including a number of Tesco containers on a working from Grangemouth to Aberdeen Craiginches.

43179/015 pass AH15 with 1B35 from Aberdeen (13.56) to Edinburgh Waverley

One final photo that made a fine contrast of old and new was arrival of LNER Azuma 800109, which I had photographed earlier at Inverkeilor, passing beneath the listed signal box with my return train to Edinburgh Waverley – 1E25 from Aberdeen (14.52) to London King’s Cross.

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