Great Northern Railway


Opened: 1906

Closed: 1940

Location code: E21/03

The 1096 signal box at Woodside ParkThe London underground railways absorbed a number of main line railway company's branches in the late-1930's - this was mutually convenient because it took pressure off the main line terminals and approaches. Quite a network was planned for what became the Northern Line, and whilst the routes from East Finchley to High Barnet and Mill Hill saw the benefits, others like Finsbury Park to East Finchley and the Alexandra Palace branch were never completed and these lines subsequently faded away completely.

Work on the High Barnet line (including an extension of the Underground from Archway to East Finchley to connect with it) was so far advanced when war broke out in 1939 that it was deemed worthwhile to complete it despite the constraints of war. Full colour-light signalling was provided to the London Passenger Transport Board's style was provided, controlled by miniature lever frames in substantial brick boxes at main junctions along the line, allowing the old signal boxes to be closed.

This was the fate that met Woodside Park in 1939, but remarkably the box was retained and kept in good order to store materials. Although this picture was taken about twenty years ago, the box still stands.

This box opened in 1906, with a 20-lever frame of Dutton manufacture to control the station and goods yard. It replaced the 1872 that was originally named Torrington Park which also, amazingly, survives.

This box represents, architecturally, the Great Northern's standard design which applied from 1907 and compares well with the all-brick example at Bellwater Junction. Note the crudely decorated bargeboards which were abandoned altogether in favour of plain ones on later specimens like Spalding No1. It should be noted, of course, that most of the windows have been concealed and that the steel staircase is a recent replacement.

When I first started my railway employment, one of my supervisors had been a signalman here as a young man. He told me that there was never any telephone communication between the boxes right up to the time they closed; all conversations (work-wise and gossip) having to be made on the single-needle telegraph.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated