Bromfield and its semaphores


Many of our oldest surviving signal boxes are on the Marches Line south of Shrewsbury and, after featuring Leominster and Woofferton Junction last year (both 1875), it is time to pay a return visit to an even older box at Bromfield, which dates from 1873 and stands next to Ludlow Racecourse.

Bromfield station closed as long ago as 1958, but the signal box lives on, with a total of five semaphore signals controlled from its 29-lever frame and the box signalling a section of route between the boxes at Onibury to the north and Woofferton Junction to the south.

The box itself has had its historic appearance rather destroyed by replacement windows, but this remains a pleasant spot at which to see trains passing its mechanical signals, which can be seen both from the level crossing adjacent to the box as well as a road parallel to the line heading north and then a field alongside the line.

DB 66129 passes signal BD28 with steel empties from Dee Marsh to Margam

The five semaphores controlled by Bromfield’s Signal Box comprise up (northbound) home (BD4) and section signals (BD5), while in the down or southbound direction outer home signal BD28 stands some distance north of the box and home signal BD27 is on a bracket close to the box, while section signal BD24 stands alongside the racecourse grandstand.

175007 passes the signal box with 1V92 from Holyhead (06.25) to Maesteg

Passenger services passing the box are Transport for Wales (TfW) Class 150/3/8/175 workings between West Wales (Milford Haven/Carmarthen) and Manchester Piccadilly, as well as services between Maesteg or Cardiff and Holyhead, where there is the occasional appearance of a Class 67/Mk IV/DVT formation.

153909/361 pass down home BD27 with an empty stock move from Shrewsbury (5Z09) to Cardiff

Freight traffic has all but disappeared from the once intensively-used Marches route, but one regular working that I have photographed numerous times at other locations along the route is the daily service from Dee Marsh to Margam, scheduled to pass Bromfield on its southbound run at 11.26.

67014 approaches Bromfield with 1W93 from Cardiff Central (11.22) to Holyhead

My luck was in during a morning at Bromfield on 6 May 2022 when DB 66129 in maroon livery appeared on time with the Margam train, which I was able to photograph from the field alongside the line north of the signal box as it passed down outer home signal BD28.

175107 passes signal BD5 with 1W54 from Milford Haven (07.02) to Manchester Piccadilly

Apart from good views of the three signals north of the signal box and level crossing, to be had from the road alongside the line and they a field, there is a good view of the two semaphores south of the signal box from the east side of the level crossing.

158827 approaches BD5 with 1W92 from Cardiff Central (09.22) to Holyhead

From here you can see southbound (down) trains passing section signal BD24 behind the racecourse grandstand and up trains approaching home signal BD4 as seen below where 175004 approaches BD4 with the delayed 1W56 from Carmarthen (09.00) to Manchester Piccadilly.

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