South Yorkshire Joint Line


Opened: 1929

Closed: 1983

Location code: E62/21

Firbeck Junction "B" signal boxThe South Yorkshire Joint Line was owned a consortium of the Great Central, Great Northern, Lancashire & Yorkshire, Midland and North Eastern Railways, running from Anston (just off the Great Central's main East-West route between Retford and Sheffield) up to Doncaster. It's purpose was to serve the numerous collieries in the area, although it was unusual for rival railway companies to service them with a joint effort.

Although a joint line, the signalling appears to have been provided solely by the Great Central, using their standard boxes, frames and signals.

When, in 1929, a triangular junction was laid in at Firbeck to serve a new branch to Harworth Colliery, standard GC signal boxes were provided despite the Grouping having taken place six years earlier. Only two boxes were provided to work the triangular junction. Firbeck Junction "A" was on the "main" line (which was basically single with a passing loop) with Firbeck Junction "B" on the branch where the two spurs met. The naming of the boxes was, though, not at all in accordance with GC practice, and must reflect the influence of the other companies.

"B" box, the one depicted here was a standard GC box of their final design, right down to the distinctive GC water butt. Now there's an interesting one for the rivet counters.

An example of this type of box, but with a brick base, is described at Hyde Junction.

Interior of Firbeck Junction "B" Internally, everything gives the appearance of being original to the opening of the box, except perhaps the fitted carpet!

The frame is to the GC's standard pattern, with the unusual front-mounted catch handles that are unique to the type. In keeping with the immaculate state of the box, the lever handles are exceptionally brightly burnished. The levers bear a complete set of original GC tee-shaped badges painted in matching colours to the levers, with the numbers and pulling sequence hand painted upon them.

To the left of the frame is the Tyer's Key-Token instrument for working the single line to Harworth Colliery. There is no equipment on the block shelf apart from two track circuit indicators, with (of course) brightly polished brass cases. With the light quantity of traffic (all freight) on the two short sections of double line to "A" box, no block instruments were provided, but the sections were fully track-circuited.

The first signalwomen were employed on the railways during World War Two whilst the men were at war. Unusually, the one employed at this one-shift box had been permitted to remain in the railway's employ after the war (signalwomen were generally not seen again until the early seventies) and had just reached retirement when this photograph was taken in 1977. The immaculate state of the box shows the pride she took in her work.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated