GNR Somersault signal

Signal boxes of the

The London, Brighton & South Coast Railway had primitive interlocking between signals at some junctions by 1844, but it wasn't until 1856 that interlocking with the points was added, a feature invented by a young John Saxby who was merely a carpenter for the company at that time. Saxby's first fully interlocked lever frame appeared in 1860, just after the first such installation appeared on the North London Railway. A deal to also supply the London & North Western Railway led him (and another employee, John Farmer) to set their own company in 1862 which was to become what was probably the most successful of all the signalling contractors.

The LB&SC clearly respected this move, for they patronised Saxby & Farmer for almost all of their signalling work until 1880, during which period the entire railway was properly signalled, with block working introduced from an early date. Later, the LB&SC developed its own architecture for signal boxes, but used a mixture of home-produced and contractor-built frames, although the latter were to the LB&SC's specification.

A few very early boxes survive, but a reasonable quantity survive dating from 1876 onwards - allowing for the massive amounts of resignalling that have taken place in recent years.

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

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The earliest signal boxes on the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway were provided by Saxby & Farmer to their 1857 design. The LBSC remained loyal to this contractor until they reached self-sufficiency in 1894.

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MitchamPage includes views of lever framePage includes close-up views if signalling instruments and equipmentPage includes views of signals and other outdoor equipment

A variation of the Saxby & Farmer 1868 design was used, featuring an overhang to the roof with small bracket supports beneath the eaves.

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Epsom Downs

A larger example of the 1868 model, featuring deeper windows at the front. This box was opened as late as 1879, when the design shown below would have been expected.

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A new design of box appeared in 1872, possibly erected by Saxby & Farmer but not in keeping with their designs of the time. This type was used for some new boxes built through to 1879.

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DraytonPage includes views of lever frame

A large number of cabins were built by Saxby & Farmer to their attractive 1876 design. These featured an overhanging hipped roof and curved corners to the "top light" windows and in the top corners of the main sections. Most had brick bases.

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Longhedge JunctionPage includes views of lever framePage includes close-up views if signalling instruments and equipment

Boxes of the Saxby & Farmer 1876 design continued to be erected on the LBSC long after the design had been superseded. The last was erected in 1898.

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Bedhampton Crossing

From 1879, some of the boxes built on the LBSC were erected by the company themselves. Based loosely on earlier Saxby & Farmer designs, they had the added delights if an ornate ventilator and, on early examples, a decorative valance.

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PlumptonPage includes views of lever framePage includes close-up views if signalling instruments and equipmentPage includes close-up views of box diagram

From 1888, boxes of the above type appeared without the fancy valance-work.

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Another small change to this design occurred in 1894, when the small brackets beneath the roof-line were dispensed with. The box illustrated here also has a tidier ventilator and the structure is in the less common all-timber form.

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Horsted Keynes South

Between 1880 and 1883, a batch of boxes to a unique design were built to harmonise with the station buildings on certain new branch lines. As these lines were subjected to closure many years ago, the only survivor for the camera is on a preserved steam railway.

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Star Lane

A radical departure from earlier practice took place in 1898, when the LB&SC finally broke its dependence on Saxby & Farmer and at the same time introduced a modern gabled-roof design. The early examples had windows of three panes in height and whilst most had brick bases, this example is built entirely in timber.

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BoshamPage includes views of lever frame

Only a year after the introduction of the above design, a minor change was introduced with two-pane-high glazing which was more in keeping with earlier Saxby & Farmer and derivative styles. Most boxes of this type had a panelled brick base and wooden upper storey.

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EarlswoodPage includes views of lever framePage includes close-up views of lever badgesPage includes close-up views of box diagram

A larger box of the same type, fitted with a new pattern of frame introduced in 1905.

The London, Brighton & South Coast Railway became part of the Southern Railway with the grouping of 1923.