THE SIGNAL BOX

BRANCH LINES

BELL JOKES

or the improper use of the Block Instruments!

by Bob Wright

Those of you who know about Block Bell Codes and their relevance to train working will, I hope, see the humour (well mine anyway) in the following parody. For those of you who don't see the humour in the relationship between the description and the code, go get the Regulations for Train Signalling out and take a look. You will see the relevance. For those of you who don't see the humour or the relevance to Train Signalling, well . . .

Otherwise, here follows an extract from, basically, the October 1960 BR Western Region Signalling Regulations Book (pages 3 to 6) - with the following amendments which the General Manager at the time chose not to publish for some reason or another . . .


USE OF BLOCK INDICATORS AND BELLS

These must be used exclusively for the purposes shown herein and must not under any circumstances be used for conversing. They must only be used by the Signalman or other person specially appointed for the duty.

The movements on the block indicators must be made carefully, and the beats on the bells must be made slowly and distinctly, the pauses between the sets of beats being clearly marked.

To be used only where authorised and definitely not without the approval of the District Operating Superintendent or Senior Operating Officer of the Household. Children under the age of 30 are strictly prohibited from operating the Block Bells.

These bell signals are supplementary to, but not in the order of, the Regulations to which they otherwise would refer and Signalmen must make up their own minds, with reference to the circumstances prevailing, when they should be properly used. Note: The use of a split infinitive in the preceding sentence is intentional and is included herein with the express permission of the Railway Clearing House.

BELL SIGNALS

Description Bell Code
Front door bell 1
Rent collector A number of beats in rapid succession
Dad coming through front door, or Mother-in-law getting off bus (see also 1-2-1) 2
Is Line Clear for:—
The Queen's favourite to win the 2:30 at Doncaster
4-4-4
Dad's new car 4
The Mayor's new car 4-1-3
A double deck trolley bus 4-2
A single deck trolley bus 3-1-2
An empty trolley bus - double or single deck 2-2-1-2
Mum's car 3-1
Dad's garden wheelbarrow 1-3
A Lawnmower - diesel powered 3-1-3
A supermarket trolley - without squeaking wheels 1-3-1
An 18 wheeler Supermarket truck 3-2-5
Mum pushing an empty pram 2-2-1
A supermarket delivery truck with current MOT 3-1-1
A grocers delivery bicycle with front brake inoperative 5
Horse drawn baker's delivery cart with horse shod on only three hooves 1-2-2
Mum's car with brake deficiency 3-2
Oldest son's old (new) car just failed MOT 1-4
A milk float at end of days delivery (no longer used) 4-1
A milk float at start of days delivery 3
The Local Council tree-lopping vehicle 1-2
Dad stopping at Pub on way home from work 2-2-3
Double Decker Bus going under low bridge 2-1-2
A Bicycle (or Tandem if applicable) 2-3
A car towing a caravan or another car 1-1-3
Two people passing on a narrow stairway 2-6-1
Mother-in-law on the stairway 2-6-2
Grandmother on the stairway 2-6-3
Making sure Dad has clear run to bathroom after returning from Pub 1-2-6
Dad deciding he wants to go back to Pub re above 1-6-2
Other Bell Codes including Emergency Signals:—
Mother pushing a Pram
2-2
Mother pushing Pram with toddler by her side 2-3-1
Going to the Pub 3-3-2
Not going to the Pub 8
Deciding not to go out on a cold night 3-2-3
Mother-in-law coming to visit 3-5-5
Mother-in-law offering to baby-sit during visit 3-3-5
Mother telling kids that Dad has had a bad day at the office or, Mother-in-law at bottom of road 1-2-1
Dad home from work 2-1-3
Dad too long down the Pub 6-2
Car out of Petrol, lost car keys or Dad incapable of returning home from Pub 3-3-4
Reversing car out of driveway or Dad walking home from Pub with difficulty 2-3-3
Wrong telephone number 5-3
Policeman calling in to check on car ownership after stopping you for broken rear light 9
Policeman shouting to colleague in car re above 4-5
Driving in wrong direction down a one-way street 2-5-5
Being chased by Police 4-5-5
Opening garage door 5-5-5
Closing garage door 7-5-5
Closing electrically operated Garage door 5-5-7
Dad losing temper at favourite football team own goal 16
Daughter moving her car from Dad's place in the driveway 1-5-5
Cat (or Dog) taking up space in front of the fireplace, or Mother-in-law in bathroom 6
Cat (or Dog) moved from in front of fireplace, or Mother-in-law out of bathroom 2-1
Bad eyesight 8-2
Closing the driveway gates, or Electric Token Block - Keys out from pocket 5-2
Replacing telephone in cradle 3-5
Checking water, battery and tyre pressures on car 7
Kids left behind at last motorway stop 5-5
Front door porch light out 2-8
The Speaking clock 8-5-5
Putting car in neighbours driveway 2-4
Parking car on street 3-3
Cheeky neighbour using your driveway to turn car, or Electric Token Block - Keys back in pocket 2-5
Dial 999 (actually correct useage!) 1-1-6
Telephone sales rep calling right at mealtime 1-1
Permissive Working - Daughter can stay out late now Dad's away on a business trip 2-4-2
Permissive Working - Daughter can have boyfriend over or go as far as front gate but cannot go out dancing 4-3

By Order of the Superintendent of the Wine. St. Pancreas, May 1998.

With apologies to all Regions of the former British Railways (whose Bell Codes the above were and what they really intended them to mean). Also, some of the above might vary by Region and none of the codes for the "Is Line Clear" descriptions bear any resemblance to those of the former Southern Region, as they liked to be different and apparently got away with it!

If anybody out there in Semaphore or TCB country has any additions to the above, let me know and we'll get Inspector Hinson to include them in next week's K2.

Comments about this article should be addressed to Bob Wright