Great Eastern Railway


Opened: 1904

Closed: — no —

Location code: E31/24

Somerleyton Swing Bridge signal boxThere were a number of swing bridges across the Norfolk Broads, and four survive in use. One of these is at Somerleyton.

The box itself is a brick-built example of the Great eastern's standard design introduced in 1886, similar to Trowse Yard.

Although containing only a fourteen-lever frame, the box is quite large. This is because the bridge operating gear occupied part of the box.

Note the board that can be used to indicate to shipping how long they will have to wait. Other boards can be slid across to indicate the waiting time.

Inside Somerleyton Swing Bridge boxInside the box, we see the signalman at work, using the traditional "duster" to both keep his hands clean and keep the polished lever handles from rusting. This gentleman told me, during the 1970's, he had taken early retirement from a managerial position with Bird's Eye to see his last working years out here.

The lever frame is of McKenzie & Holland origin, being of their later tappet type which had shorter levers than the types commonly found on the Great Eastern.

Sykes Lock & Block instruments at SomerleytonAt the time of these photographs, Syke's Lock & Block instruments were used to signal trains. It had been Great Eastern policy to install Lock & Block at all swing bridge boxes to afford better protection than their standard two-position blocks were capable of.

These instruments, which interlock between signals as well as with adjacent boxes, are crammed in on the small block shelf and leave little room for anything else. A closing switch is squeezed in at the left-hand end, although this would have seen very little use as this would prevent shipping movements.

The block bells are mounted high up. The left hand one is the coiled piano-wire type, which would give a deep "bong" rather than the more typical "ting".

Bridge bolt mechanismThe bridge is kept in alignment with the rails on the land by means of a bolt.

This is very similar to a facing point Lock in principle, and can be seen here centrally beneath the rails.

Signal connectors through the bridgeThe signals on the far side of the bridge are connected mechanically (unlike at Trowse Swing Bridge) and these are carried across the length of the bridge on rods. They connect at either end using the method illustrated here.

Somerleyton Swing Bridge box survives today, although the Sykes equipment is long gone.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated