by Danny Goodrum

Chippenham Junction signal box
Photograph by David Stenning

Chippenham Jct is at the eastern end of what was once a triangular junction near Newmarket. It now works with Kennett (or Bury St Edmunds Yard when Kennett is closed), Dullingham and Cambridge power box and uses three different block systems - Absolute, Track Circuit and Tokenless. The Tokenless block was installed to Dullingham replacing Key Token working after the destruction of Newmarket box by a freak whirlwind that hit the town in the seventies, lifting the box off its footings and rolling the signalman's Reliant Robin over onto its roof.

When this photo was taken, Chippenham Junction still had no electricity supply to the box which explains the large number of gas bottles in the compound and the adjoining battery shed. The box must have been very cramped in its early days as the frame takes up most of the front of the box, the back having been extended to give room to swing a proverbial cat.

Chippenham Jct is a lonely place. It is reached from the main road via a tree lined drive and across the Al Bahathri racing gallops, yet no more than 400 yds to the north lies the main A14 with traffic to and from the East Coast Ports thundering by.

Chippenham has recently been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, now being mains connected and partially refurbished.

Interior of Chippenham Junction
Photograph by David Stenning

A bit of a dark view of the frame but it shows just how little room there was to spare before the box was enlarged.

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson