Great Northern & Great Eastern
Location code: E60/03
In the early 1880s, the Great Eastern and Great
Northern Railways put aside their bitter rivalry and, perhaps resigned to the
fact that they would have to co-exist, embarked on a massive joint venture to
build a joint railway extending from Cambridge to Doncaster. This was primarily
a freight route, and this predominance survived until the partial closure of
the route in the 1980s.
Blotoft Siding, was a wayside cabin on the section between
Spalding and Sleaford. Boxes to the south of Lincoln were built to the Great
Eastern's first standard design, which had been introduced around 1877. These
boxes usually incorporated a large overhang at each end of the roof - see
Great Chesterford and it is possible that the
roof in this example has been renewed at some time, perhaps after fire
Inside the cabin is found the sixteen-lever frame,
which was built by Stevens & Sons who were awarded the contract for this
particular section of the massive project. By 1978, when these photographs were
taken, the one siding and crossover had been eliminated and their levers
painted white. Apart from a home and distant signal in each direction, the only
other functional levers control the hand-operated level crossing gates and the
pedestrian wicket gates. Since this view, a new crossover has been provided, to
facilitate single-line working during engineering work or emergencies.
Adjacent to the red levers (controlling the home signals) can be
seen two pull-up stirrups which operate detonator placers for emergency use.
Control of these by such stirrups rather than from one of the levers was a
London & North Eastern Railway idea.
Notice the home signal levers do not have a white band painted on
the lever, suggesting that the now ubiquitous "Line Clear One Pull" electrical
interlocking with the signalling instruments had not yet been provided
The instrument shelf contains a smart set of Great Northern
Railway block instruments (illustrated below) but if you look carefully a pair
of new BR block instruments stand behind them awaiting commissioning.
close up view of a pair of Great Northern Railway signalling instruments shows
the design to date back to early telegraph instruments, and it is likely that
the pegging block (on the left) was directly converted from one of these. The
right-hand instrument is the non-pegger, controlled by the box at the other end
of the section, which would have been manufactured in complimentary style to
the pegger. Each has a large brass plate mounted on it identifying the line to
which it applies.
Between them sits the block bell, fully enclosed in GN fashion by
it's wooden case. Above the ringing tapper, a modern ivorine plate identifies
it as working to Helpringham (help ring 'em?) box.
At the time of these photographs, even
the signalman's diagram dated back to the opening of the box in 1882 - note
that it still carried the GN & GE Joint Line heading. Removal of the one
siding and crossover are evident by the patches where the layout has been
Distant signal would not have dated back to the line's opening, but was of the
Great Northern's somersault pattern. This style was introduced after a serious
accident at Abbots Ripton where a signal arm failed to return to danger in
severe wintery conditions. This was overcome by pivoting the arm centrally
rather than at one end, and the casting to provide this pivot may just be seen
in this view.
The main post of the signal is made of concrete, a feature that
allowed the signal to survive for as long as it did.
Signals like this, the diagram and block instruments may be gone,
but the box soldiers on with a paltry service to what it once had. But it is
All photographs copyright ©
John Hinson unless otherwise stated