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”
Among a number of marvellous locations in Cornwall to savour GWR-style lower quadrant signalling, one of the most attractive must surely be the delightful town of Lostwithiel, standing on the banks of the River Fowey, with its station and signal box situated just over the 16th century Lostwithiel Bridge from the town itself.
Lostwithiel’s 1893 GWR signal box, known as Lostwithiel Crossing, boasts a 63-lever frame and gained a Grade II Listing in 2013 for being one of 26 “highly distinctive” boxes that were selected for listing in a joint project undertaken by English Heritage and Network Rail. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: Lostwithiel”
For its combination of manual signalling, interesting scenery and the regular chance of Class 37-haulage, there can be few places in England more attractive for rail enthusiasts than the Wherry Lines in Norfolk, linking Norwich with the seaside resorts of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.
This 46¼-mile network features a total of nine manual signal boxes, two of which also operate swing bridges, a weekend-only request stop (Buckenham), and Berney Arms, one of the remotest and quietest stations (albeit without any signalling) in the whole of England. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: Oulton Broad North”