Dramatic scenery and numerous viaducts make Cornwall something of a dream for railway photography, with the added attraction of most local services now being formed of the ex-HST 2+4 “Castle” sets and semaphore signalling at five main-line stations within the Royal Duchy.
First up of this quintet is Liskeard, 264½ miles from Paddington (via Bristol) and home to a rare centre-pivot semaphore as well as being a junction for the scenic Looe Valley branch line, whose platform (3) stands as right-angles to the main line and is adorned with 1960s-style chocolate and cream signage.
Having spent time at Liskeard station in the past, I was keen to seek out the first of the six semaphore signals here, the down outer home (LD35) which westbound trains will pass on approaching the station before rounding a sharp left-hand curve that takes them onto Liskeard Viaduct and into the station.
Finding an attractive and remote rural location where there is a variety of freight and passenger traffic, a signal box controlling semaphore signals and heritage diesel action might sound too good to be true.
But that was what I was able to savour on Thursday (22 October 2020) at Earles Sidings, near the village of Hope in the Peak District, and a junction on the Hope Valley Line for a 1½-mile branch line to the country’s largest cement works.
Paying what will surely be my last visit to the wonderful Wherry Lines before the end of Class 37 operations, my quest this time (Friday, 26 July) was not just to savour more loco haulage, but also to find another of the network’s working distant signals.
Bearing the memorable number A1, this is the up distant at Acle, sole passing loop on the 12¾ miles of route from Brundall to Great Yarmouth, and one of seven semaphores controlled by the station’s diminutive 1883-vintage 20-lever Great Eastern Railway signal box, which stands at the western end of the down platform. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: Acle”
Not a place notable for its signalling interest, but a pleasantly rural spot that is worth a visit for the variety and frequency of traction passing through this very quiet station, four miles south of Banbury.
For a chance to savour Britain’s finest collection of lower quadrant semaphore signals, and a number of other unique historic features, it is well worth spending a few hours on and around Worcester’s two stations, Shrub Hill and Foregate Street.
The triangular layout north of these two stations is controlled by signal boxes at Shrub Hill and Tunnel Junction at the far tip of this triangle, while signals west of Foregate Street and its up platform 1 starter are controlled by a third box, Henwick, standing out of sight on the opposite side of the River Severn. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: Worcester”
Having spent much of last year touring the length and breadth of Great Britain in search of surviving semaphore signals to feature in my forthcoming book, I can confidently say that the finest stretch of mechanical signalling in Britain is the 94½ mile stretch of Cumbrian Coast from Arnside, north of Lancaster, along the Furness Line to Barrow-in-Furness, and then on up the Cumbrian Coast Line to Wigton, south-west of Carlisle.
This fascinating and scenic route, boasts no less than 17 signal boxes and two gate boxes controlling semaphore signals, most of which are at stations, and so easily accessible to the rail-borne traveller. Getting around is relatively straightforward (strikes permitting, of course) with Northern Rail services along the routes being roughly hourly from Carlisle to Barrow, with a slightly higher frequency between Barrow and Lancaster. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: Grange-over-Sands”
For variety of passenger and freight traction, there can be few places in the South of England to match Westbury, a small and unremarkable Wiltshire town best known for its White Horse, carved into the chalk hillside overlooking the town.
Westbury stands 109 miles from London Paddington and is a major junction on the Berks & Hants route via Newbury to the South West, being the point where it crosses the busy Bristol to Portsmouth line, while other services run from here to Swindon via Melksham.
Add the regular stone traffic originating at the nearby Merehead and Whatley quarries, and you are in for pretty much non-stop action on an average weekday, with the three hours I spent there on Friday (17 August) producing no less than five different classes of passenger unit and three different classes of freight loco. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: Westbury”
Re-signalling along the North Wales coast earlier in the year (see my posts on Rhyl, Abergele and Prestatyn) means mechanical signalling in the area is now confined to Anglesey on the main line and to three locations on the delightful Conwy Valley Line from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Llandudno.
On the branch proper, the remaining signal box at North Llanrwst controls four semaphore signals and the only passing loop on this line, while at the northern end of the route there is an interesting outpost of mechanical signalling between Deganwy and the seaside terminus at Llandudno, 1¾ miles to the north.
Llandudno Station Signal Box is an impressive structure dating from 1891 that, like so many others, has been ruined by the replacement of its traditional glazing with uPVC windows. It controls movement in and out of the three platforms, and the notable feature here is the gantry at the exit from platforms 1 & 2, with shunting arms alongside each of the starting signals, and another alongside the platform 3 starting signal. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: Llandudno & Deganwy”
Re-signalling of the Wherry Lines from Norwich to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft continues apace – with “bagged lollipops” having already appeared at a number of locations, so after previous looks at Reedham and Oulton Broad North, it is time to pay a visit to the third mechanically-signalled junction on this fascinating network.
Brundall station stands 5¾ miles east of Norwich and is the point where a single line to Great Yarmouth via Acle diverges from the double track route to Lowestoft. It is served by hourly trains on the Acle line and by some, though not all, of the Lowestoft services. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: Brundall”
Cornwall remains a delightful and photogenic outpost of mechanical signalling, so after my earlier features on Par/St Blazey and Lostwithiel, it is time to pay a visit to Britain’s most south-westerly railway junction, St Erth, which lies 56 miles on from the Royal Duchy’s first semaphore signals at Liskeard, and 299½ miles from Paddington.
St. Erth must rank as one of the county’s most unspoiled locations, with semaphore signalling being the perfect complement to the charming GWR junction station, complete with independently-run station buffet and a place where even the original footbridge was saved from replacement by a new structure after a fervent local campaign. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: St. Erth”