THE SIGNAL BOX

BRANCH LINES

SOHAM

A TRIBUTE TO DAVE STENNING
by Danny Goodrum

Soham box
Photograph by David Stenning

A shot of Soham box which was located on what remained of the Down platform.

Interior of Soham box
Photograph by David Stenning

Soham became famous for the wagon that exploded during the second world war that caused huge destruction but, having survived that, little had changed into the eighties. Here, the single-line branch from Ely Dock Junction spread to a double line, continuing southwards to Chippenham Junction on its way towards Bury St Edmunds.

The box on the old Down platform was a peaceful place to be, early shift in the eighties produced about six trains. However the other two shifts were busier with freight trains to and from Ipswich, Felixstowe and Parkeston Quay.

Interior of Soham box
Photograph by David Stenning

Before the frame was shortened, the levers for the distants were positioned inside the frame - one pulled Home-Starter-Distant working in from the ends. This arrangement was common on the old NER territory of the LNER, but rare elsewhere. It could lead the careless reliefman into putting the Starter back in front of a train.

Inside Soham box
Photograph by David Stenning

Soham frame was reduced when the layout was rationalised. Long lead switches of the type later used for the 125 m.p.h. Junction at Colton on the East Coast Mainline were trialled at Soham and are still there today.

The box has been well travelled since its retirement having been to both Whipsnade Zoo and the Colne Valley Railway but is now now residing in a farmyard in Prickwillow, about 5 miles away from where it started, ironically watching over the Ely to Norwich line.

Inside Soham box
Photograph by David Stenning


Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson