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.

Military Manoeuvres – AD 34

Ever since I found out that the railway scenes in the 1966 film The Great St. Trinian’s Train Robbery were filmed at the Longmoor Military Railway in Hampshire I’ve had an interest in the sometimes secretive world of the railway systems used by our armed forces.

Happily these days, an interest in such matters isn’t likely to get you shot (at least here in the UK) and a considerable amount of information has now been published about such systems. In addition, a lot of former military railway equipment has passed into the hands of preservationists all over the country.

Locomotive AD 34 is one such piece of equipment, now preserved at the Golden Valley Light Railway in Derbyshire.

HE 4wDH AD 34 (works no.7009 of 1971)-20180207Hunslet 4wDH AD 34
Golden Valley Light Railway, February 2018

Built by the Hunslet Engine Co Ltd (HE) in 1971 (as works no.7009), AD 34 was one of five such locomotives supplied new to the Ministry of Defence, Royal Ordnance Factory Eastriggs in Dumfriesshire (now Dumfries & Galloway) to move munitions around the site on a vast 2ft gauge railway system.

Fitted with a 28hp Perkins diesel engine and a hydraulic transmission, AD 34 has a top speed of 4mph (would you want to go any faster with a trainload of munitions in tow?)

By 1996 all five locos had been transferred to the Department of the Environment Lydd Gun Ranges in Kent where they were used to haul maintenance and personnel trains on the extensive rail network there.

The other four locomotives also survive in preservation; AD 35 (works no.7010) can be seen at the Statfold Barn Railway in Staffordshire (see image below) while AD 36 (works no.7011), AD 37 (works no.7012) and AD 38 (works no.7013) can all be found at the Old Kiln Light Railway in Surrey.

HE 4wDH 35 (works no.7010 of 1971, reb.1988 by HAB, works no.6941)-20110917Hunslet 4wDH AD 35
Statfold Barn Railway, September 2011