THE SIGNAL BOX

BRANCH LINES

 

SOUTH WALES
at the turn of the Century

FERRYSIDE

Ferryside signal box
Just a short distance down the line from Kidwelly is Ferryside. The date of construction of the box is not known, but it is believed to be pre-1884.
The lever frame inside Ferryside box
Inside, we find a smart Great Western double-twist frame of 24 levers controlling the layout.
The instrument shelf and track layout diagram
Above the levers are two Great Western 1947-style block instruments, with their associated bells, to control the lines between here and the adjacent boxes.
Behind is the diagram of the layout.
Tappett interlocking at Ferryside
In the locking room, beneath the operating floor, is the interlocking that prevents the signalman setting conflicting routes. It is really a mechanical computer - the metal bars slide up and down according to which levers have been pulled, and notches on them will physically prevent certain other levers from being pulled. The original Double_Twist locking has been replaced by standard tappet locking as recently as 1996.
Wire-adjusting mechanism
I, myself, spent many years wondering exactly how wire adjusters work. Wire adjusters are a means of shortening or extending the length of the wires that run out to the signals, because change in the weather can have a substantial effect on a long run of wire.
On the operating floor of the box, a small wheel or capstan is provided to wind the wire in or out. The rod from this can be seen passing vertically down just left of centre in this view. This operates the large drum wheel through a worm gear (only just visible) which provides the winding mechanism. The wire then passes over a pulley on the lever tail (the near-horizontal bar, which is bolted onto the foot of the lever), then down to ground level where it will pass round another pulley and leave the box.
A non-adjustable wire would be attached direct to the lever tail.
An example of the signalman's adjusting equipment is illustrated at Bronwydd Arms.

Photographs by Roger Bailey

Comments about this article should be addressed to Roger Bailey