Signal Box Safari – North Staffordshire Survey

A few weeks ago I paid a (socially distanced) visit to a friend in Tutbury, Staffordshire, and en route I crossed the Derby-Stoke railway line here…

Tutbury Crossing-20200630Tutbury Crossing
June 2020

Tutbury Crossing signal box was built for the North Staffordshire Railway (NSR) c.1872 by McKenzie & Holland (McK&H). The type 1 structure was fitted with a McK&H 1886 patent 5″ frame (now reduced to nine levers) in 1897.

Tutbury Crossing signal box-20200630Tutbury Crossing signal box
June 2020

Having some free time I decided to explore a little further down the line and a quick study of Google Maps revealed two more signal boxes nearby, the first being…

Scropton Crossing signal box-20200630Scropton Crossing signal box
June 2020

Scropton Crossing signal box is a NSR type 2 structure dating from the 1880s and is fitted with a 22-lever McK&H 1873 patent 5″ frame.

This also caught my eye at Scropton…

Marker post, Scropton Crossing-20200630Marker post, Scropton Crossing
June 2020

I’m not certain but this may be an old level crossing gate post. ‘N.S.R. Co.’ clearly refers to the North Staffordshire Railway, what appears to be ‘1884’ could refer to the build date of the box itself and ‘L.M.S. 1923’ must refer to the year in which the NSR became part of the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS).

Finally I called at Sudbury…

Sudbury signal box-20200630Sudbury signal box
June 2020

A North Staffordshire Railway (NSR) type 1 structure dating from 1885 the box is fitted with a McK&H 1873 patent 5″ 25-lever frame. There’s more than a hint of McKenzie & Holland (McK&H) design here though and the box closely resembles Great Northern Railway (GNR) structures of the same period.

One other signal box remains in the area, at the former Egginton Junction, but I understand it’s almost impossible to view unless from a passing train.

Signal Box Safari – South Tynedale Railway

To me, no structure screams ‘RAILWAY!’ more than a signal box…

Old station buildings get converted to houses, goods and locomotive sheds are often unrecognisable in their new roles as factories or warehouses but a signal box rarely ends up looking like anything other than… well… a signal box.

I try to photograph them wherever they crop up, there are still many to be found on the national network and heritage lines occasionally build new ones. The South Tynedale Railway (STR) is one such line.

The STR extended their 2ft gauge line to a new northern terminus at Slaggyford in 2017 and needed a signal box to control the station’s signals and level crossing but the original North Eastern Railway (NER) box had been demolished in the 1960s.

… So the STR built a very convincing replica of the original NER type N2 structure that contains a 28-lever frame obtained from Battersby signal box (which closed in August 1989) on the Esk Valley Line that runs from Middlesbrough to Whitby.

Slaggyford Signal Box-20181026Slaggyford Signal Box
South Tynedale Railway, October 2018

Alston, at the southern end of the STR, boasts a 1915-vintage signal box, but not one original to the location…

Alston Signal Box-20181026Alston Signal Box
South Tynedale Railway, October 2018

Alston signal box is a North Eastern Railway (NER) type S5 structure that originally stood at Ainderby on what is now the Wensleydale Railway in North Yorkshire.

Rebuilt at Alston in 1991 (on a new brick base) the box contains a 21-lever McKenzie & Holland frame, part of which came from Leeming Bar (also on the Wensleydale Railway).

The South Tynedale Railway has also had to suspend operations due to the Covid-19 situation and are currently appealing for donations to help support the railway until such time as they can run trains again.