Great Central Railway


Opened: 1905

Closed: 1984

Location code: E43/35

Hyde Junction signal boxThe Great Central's final design of box was introduced slowly - a few were built during the 1890s but the type was only adopted generally after the turn of the century. It was a development from the type illustrated at Orgreaves Colliery. Many, like that illustrated here, continued with brick bases, but many all-timber examples were built too, such as that at Firbeck Junction "B".

Barge-boards were of a simplified and plainer two-ring design, and the window pane combination arrangements were much more varied.

Hyde Junction was one of fourteen new signalboxes erected in connection with the widening of the Ardwick to Newton Junction section on the approaches to Manchester. What is particularly interesting about these boxes is that they were an early example of power signalling, utilising compressed air.

Inside Hyde Junction boxLever frames in the boxes in this scheme were constructed by the British Pneumatic Signal Company, and comprised miniature slides rather than levers. Coloured handles denoted the function (in the same way levers are coloured); those without handles in this illustration are slides no longer in use. The plates describing the lever functions are horizontally placed in front of the slides. Whilst the power signalling allowed shorter cabins to be built, the depth of the equipment wasn't really allowed for and the signalman did not have a lot of working space.

The slides allowed air to be sent out to points and signals by pipe at a pressure of 40 psi. Air controlled the slides themselves as well, with the point slides automatically completeing their move from the check-lock position after detection was obtained, and signals automatically returning to "on" after the passage of trains. This apparent sel-operation of the slides could be eerie to watch.

The equipment above the slides dates mainly from the provision of colour-light signalling when the line was electrified in the early 1950's. Crude-looking metal-cased block instruments, operated with telephone switches and lamp bulbs, are placed either side of the LMR illuminated diagram.

Air-operated signal at Hyde JunctionWhilst most of the air-operated signals were removed with the 1950's electrification, when colour-lights were introduced owing to the restricted view and clearance, the original signalling remained at locations where non-electrified branches and sidings existed.

One such was Hyde Junction's Down Branch Outer Home, which allowed free acceptance from the Romily Junction direction and protected the platform.

This signal is mounted on a steel lattice post. The air cylinder can be seen just below the arm. The arm itself is an original Great Central lower quadrant.

Some subsequent power schemes utilised air operation, but electrical operation was adopted for new schemes after 1911. An example of one of these boxes can be found at Reception Sidings, Immingham.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated