THE SIGNAL BOX

PHOTO GALLERY

GNR Somersault signal

Signal boxes of the
GREAT EASTERN RAILWAY

The Great Eastern (and its constituents) resisted the expense of proper signalling for as long as it could, preferring to use the telegraph system to keep its trains apart. Block working was grudgingly installed from the mid-1870s, and amazingly many of the basic one-wire instruments were still in use 100 years later. Interlocked signal boxes began to appear in bulk around the same time, but the term "adequate" was more appropriate than "lavish" and few large signal boxes were built.

The earliest boxes were built to contractors' designs, but the GE soon developed their own architectural style which changed quite frequently over the years. These boxes were still built by contractors, and although the GE specified the basic design, the individual contractor can often be identified by distinctive detail features. A vast range of manufacturer's lever frames would be found within.

Please click on the thumbnail images for more information on each location.

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Histon

The earliest of the Great Eastern's own design of boxes was introduced before 1870 and all had hipped roofs. Those built by McKenzie & Holland had tall "parachute" finials and a distinctive window arrangement whereby the panes were only split by vertical bars.

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FulbournePage includes views of lever frame

The Saxby & Farmer box of the era was not dissimilar to their own designs, with a flush-fitting roof and two-by-two window sashes.

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Great ChesterfordPage includes views of lever framePage includes close-up views if signalling instruments and equipment

In 1876, the Great Eastern made a change to gabled roofs, a feature which was retained throughout all subsequent designs. A large overhang was provided, surmounting a larger glazed area than in previous boxes. A more ornate version of this type was introduced in 1882, an example of which erected in LNER days is illustrated.

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Blotoft SidingPage includes views of lever framePage includes close-up views if signalling instruments and equipmentPage includes close-up views of box diagramPage includes views of signals and other outdoor equipment

Another example of the type introduced in 1876, this one has unusually flush-fitting gable ends which may be a later modification.

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MistleyPage includes views of signals and other outdoor equipment

A variation of the above type appeared in 1882, featuring mock stone blocks and an attractive and unusual window design.

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AttleboroughPage includes views of lever frame

A switch to brick construction in 1883 saw an altogether plainer design appear. Windows were four-panes high in conventional style.

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March West Junction

Attractive features re-appeared in 1885, with mock stone blocks in the gable ends, ornate roof tiles and gables. A new style of window featured many small panes in the top row. Most of these were built by Saxby & Farmer.

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Norwich Thorpe JunctionPage includes views of lever frame

Around the same time, McKenzie & Holland built boxes in the plainer style seen here, with three-by-three window sashes.

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Wroxham

In 1886, the Great Eastern settled on a neat design, to which a large number of boxes were built. These featured a roof with less overhang (a feature already adopted in their 1885 design) and the vast majority were of timber construction. This example can be identified as being of McKenzie & Holland origin by the decorative features superimposed on the bargeboards.

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North Walsham

A smaller example of the 1886 design. Most were built entirely in timber, to a neat and tidy design developed from the above example.

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Horsemoor

Contractors were still allowed to leave their mark, and this 1886-style box has been provided with Dutton's style of covered landing.

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Ipswich Goods JunctionPage includes views of lever frame

A large example of the standard 1886 design with 120 levers, which has received brick cladding as World War II bombing protection.

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Trowse YardPage includes views of signals and other outdoor equipment

This late example of the type was built mainly in brick.

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Trowse Swing BridgePage includes views of lever framePage includes views of signals and other outdoor equipment

Another 1886-style box, controlling the swing bridge outside Norwich station.

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Somerleyton Swing BridgePage includes views of lever framePage includes close-up views if signalling instruments and equipment

This is another brick-built example, probably constructed in this way as it also houses the equipment to drive the adjoining swing bridge.

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Reedham JunctionPage includes close-up views if signalling instruments and equipment

A McKenzie & Holland-built box to the 1886 design with some very interesting signalling equipment within.

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LeytonPage includes views of lever framePage includes close-up views of box diagram

This GE box of the 1886 type was built by Dutton & Co. Their boxes featured the "small above tall" window pane arrangement as featured on their own designs of the period. Several non-standard modifications were made to this box during London Transport ownership.

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SouthminsterPage includes views of lever frame

Between 1889 and 1891, some deviation from the standard design (above) was applied to boxes built during the suburban expansion of the railway into Essex. These boxes featured a much steeper roof and a decorative terra-cotta finial at each end. All had brick bases and were built by McKenzie & Holland.

The Great Eastern became part of the London & North Eastern Railway in 1923.