Seeing Hitachi Class 80x IET units passing semaphore signals has become an everyday sight on GWR services in Cornwall, but there is only one place in England where LNER Azuma trains are regularly signalled by semaphores.
While there are numerous locations on the Highland and East Coast Main Lines north of the border to see Azumas and semaphores, the only location to witness such a combination in England is at remote Swinderby, mid-way between Newark and Lincoln.
SIGNIFICANT CHANGES have taken place on the charming Harrogate Line since my last visit two years ago (blog 8 September 2019) but for now, at least, most of the remarkable mechanical signalling interest remains along the 17½ miles of route between Harrogate and Poppleton, on the northern outskirts of York.
Over the course of the delightful 35-minute trip from York you will pass no less than 11 locations that feature some semaphore signalling, comprising six signal boxes – Poppleton, Hammerton, Cattal, Knaresborough, Starbeck and Harrogate – along with five gate boxes at Hessay, Marston Moor, Wilstrop, Whixley and Belmont.
When I described the handful of mechanical signals at Deal as “Kent’s last semaphores” in a feature last month, a reader helpfully pointed out that there were actually two others in the county, at Grain on the freight-only branch from Hoo Junction to Thamesport.
Discovering not only that their days were numbered, but also that the diminutive Grain Crossing Signal Box is a unique design that enjoys a Grade II Listing for its rarity, meant that it was high time to pay a first ever visit to the remarkable Isle of Grain.
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