Great Eastern Railway


Opened: 1904

Closed: ——

Location code: E31/19

Reedham JunctionReedham Junction was a gem of a box if there ever was one. It still survives today, but much of the fascinating equipment inside the box is long gone.

The lines east from Norwich towards Yarmouth or Lowestoft diverge at Brundall, but it is also possible to continue along the Lowestoft line and cut across to Yarmouth from Reedham Junction. The Down Starting signal for the two routes is seen to the left of this general view. Alongside the signal can be seen a tablet dispensing device, to avoid the signalman having to stand there while the train passes. On the adjoining (Up) line, corresponding catching equipment can be seen.

The box itself is of standard Great Eastern post-1885 design, like Wroxham, and contains a 60 lever frame of McKenzie & Holland manufacture. At the foot of the stairs is a modern signalman's privy.

GE two-position block and Sykes instruments In the Norwich direction, block working was by Great Eastern one-wire, two-position block which was was still the commonest block instrument to be found on GE territory in the early seventies - there was even some to be found on the main line between Colchester and Manningtree! These blocks were slightly more sophisticated than those used on other lines by virtue of the brass flaps that folded round in front of the bell plungers that helped prevent the signalman ringing the wrong one and giving an incorrect indication. This particular instrument has the added luxury of Welwyn control on the Line Clear, the rotary release is mounted to the left. The upper needle stands at "Up Line Clear", indicating that a train has been accepted by Cantley. The lower needle shows "Down Train on Line" but this also doubles as the equivalent of Line Blocked on a three-position instrument, and the position of the flaps confirms that there is no train in the section.

Towards Lowestoft, the section is signalled with Sykes Lock and Block instruments. The next box is Reedham Swing Bridge, and the GE always provided Lock and Block at swing bridges to reduce the chances of a train falling into one of the Norfolk Broads. The two instruments seen here are for the Down Line. The left hand one controls the piece of line up to the Advanced Starting signal, and reads 4 FREE (or LOCKED) TO ADVANCE. The right hand instruments controls the block section (being released by Reedham Swing Bridge) and reads DOWN LINE 6 LOCKED (or FREE) TO REEDHAM BRIDGE. Mounted above it is the block indicator. Sykes instruments mechanically locked the levers, and therefore had to be mounted above the levers that they locked; the corresponding instruments for the Up Line were therefore to be found at the opposite end of the block shelf.

Tablet instrument at Reedham Junction The branch to Breydon Junction (just outside Yarmouth) was worked by even more interesting methods. It was a single line, but at one time had an intermediate block post at Berney Arms which divided the section during times of peak summer traffic. Berney Arms had no passing loop so the only benefit was with closely following trains - which is of course the way summer traffic tends to operate.

Tablet operation was between Reedham Junction and Breydon Junction without involving Berney Arms at all, but to allow more than one train between the boxes a rare Tyer Permissive Tablet instrument was provided. It was therefore possible to withdraw several tablets from the machine at once.

Tyers one-wire, three-position block instrumentThe Permissive Tablet instrument was a satisfactory means of preventing collisions between trains travelling in opposite directions, but a means was needed to prevent collisions between trains travelling in the same direction. Block instruments were provided for this purpose at Reedham Junction, Berney Arms and Breydon Junction, and these were of the Tyer's one-wire, three-position type which were rare on the Great Eastern.

Whether or not Berney Arms box was switched in, it was necessary to signal each train on two instruments - the tablet and the block.

Reedham Junction box still stands, but I doubt any of these interesting instruments survive.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated