British Railways (Eastern Region)


Opened: 1957

Closed: 2014

Location code: E60/05

Sleaford South signal boxSleaford was the last of very few locations in the country that had four signal boxes, named North, South, East and West - and all still exist. What is even more extraordinary is that it is feasible for a train journey to take you past all four boxes without reversal!

Sleaford East and West were located at either end of Sleaford station on the former Great Northern line between Grantham and Boston, The North and South were on the former Great Northern & Great Eastern Joint line from Spalding to Lincoln. A train on that route, if stopping at Sleaford, traverses a curve from South to East, then after calling at the station curves sharply back over a link from West to North.

The original 1882 Sleaford South box was renewed in 1957 with this brick-built structure which is typical of Eastern region boxes built between 1955 and 1959 although all varied in detail. The box contains a 25-lever Railway Signal Co. frame of the Great North of Ireland type, as at Seymour Junction. Another box built to this design can be seen at Oxmarsh Crossing.

To this day, the back of the box bears scars of a freight train derailment, where a trainload of Branston Pickle (and other products) cheesed of the signalman by spreading itself across the junction in October 1965. The situation occurred when 4M47, a fast freight from Whitemoor yard at March to Manchester derailed at 3.15 in the morning, about half a mile south of the box. On reaching the junction points about 15 of the train's 30 wagons went adrift. This must have been quite a frightening experience to the signalman on duty.

The signalman would appear to have an ample supply of coal for his stove. Latterly, the box was heated by electricity. The box closed in 2014.

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Additional notes by Derek Burley and Robin Clifton

All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated