Farewell Ferryside

Less than a year remains before Ferryside Signal Box and its handful of lower quadrant semaphore signals are consigned to history, as a major West Wales resignalling project known as Port Talbot West Re-signalling Phase 2 (PTW2) nears completion.

But all is not lost for the wonderful Grade II-listed Great Western Railway box at picturesque Ferryside, and a preservation group is gaining financial and political support, as I discovered when meeting the man leading efforts to secure its future while paying a return visit on 3 November 2022.

153303/910 approach Ferryside with 2E09 from Pembroke Dock (09.09) to Swansea

Local resident David Martin chairs the Ferryside Signal Box Preservation Trust and tells me that three years after his group was established terms for a handover of the box have been agreed in principle with Network Rail and its efforts have secured widespread local support. 

175114 pauses at Ferryside with 1V32 from Crewe (05.58) to Carmarthen

For those who missed my July 2021 feature, Ferryside is a request stop that is eight miles south of Carmarthen and a delightfully picturesque spot on the estuary of the River Towy (Afon Tywi), with views across the estuary of the village of Llansteffan and the ruins of the 12th Century Llansteffan Castle.

Its signal box dates from the 1880s and stands at the southern end of the down platform (2) gaining its Grade II listing in 2014 for being the best surviving example of a GWR Type 3 box in the United Kingdom.

From south to north its five semaphores comprise down home signal FS21, which has sadly lost its finial since my last visit, and an up home signal FS3 immediately in front of the station footbridge, opposite the signal box. North of the station are down starter FS20 and section signal FS19, along with up outer home FS2, as seen below.

175114 passes signal FS20 with 1V32 from Crewe (05.58) to Carmarthen

Weekday passenger services passing Ferryside largely comprise 2 and 3-car Class 175 units working between Milford Haven/Carmarthen and Manchester Piccadilly, along with Class 153 units working singly or in pairs on services to and from Pembroke Dock and Fishguard Harbour. 

175114 departs with 1W60 from Carmarthen (11.00) to Manchester Piccadilly

Under Network Rail’s PTW2 project, control of the route from Swansea West Loop (215m 14ch) to Whitland (250m 0ch) will initially pass to the Port Talbot Signalling Centre, leading to the closure of four signal boxes – Pembrey, Kidwelly, Ferryside and Carmarthen Junction.

175010 passes FS20 with 1V33 from Manchester Picc. (06.30) to Milford Haven

There seems some doubt locally about exactly when the project will be completed and the preservation group is only reckoning on a take-over of the box in 2024, but extensive preparatory work is already under way, suggesting that the planned commissioning date for new signalling of autumn 2023 is likely to be met. 

153910/303 approach FS19 with 2E22 from Swansea (11.41) to Pembroke Dock

Ferryside Signal Box Preservation Trust would like to hear from anyone interested in supporting the project, and particularly those with any historic photos or artefacts relating to Ferryside. The group also has a range of specially commissioned Christmas cards, which are being sold to raise funds for its efforts, and it can be contacted by email: sos@ferryside.wales

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