Midland Railway


Opened: 1893

Closed: 1978

Location code: LM60/10

Bolsover signal boxWith a slag-heap as a backdrop, Bolsover signal box is seen on a distinctly damp and dreary day. When first opened in 1893, the box simply controlled a freight-only passing loop at a wayside station on the single-line branch that ran between Staveley and Pleasley.

Although the function of the branch changed substantially over the years, the layout at Bolsover box changed so little that, remarkably, much of the original equipment remained present right up until closure.

The box itself is typical of the Midland Railway's design which lasted from the 1870s right through to early LMS days. The only obvious change over that period was in the size and design of the window panes - the arrangement seen here, with a larger glazed area along the front of the box than at the ends, was introduced in 1884. A similar box is illustrated at Upper Holloway and a larger-scale version of the same design can be seen at St. Albans South.

The black wooden landing arrangement is provided for the exchange of single-line tablets between the signalman and drivers.

The LMS nameboard on the end of the box proclaims the name of the box to be Bolsover Station, which is incorrect as there was only ever one box at this station and the suffix "Station" was not necessary. The station itself was renamed Bolsover Castle in 1931 (to differentiate it from the identically named station on the former Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast's line, which became Bolsover South) but this did not affect the name of the box.

Inside Bolsover box Unfortunately this is not the best of the photographs, but the interior of the box is too interesting to be missed. At the far end of the box can be seen the Tyers tablet instrument for the single line between here and Markham Colliery Sidings box.

To the left of that are two sets of controls to allow trains to "shut in" at intermediate ground frames in the block section. On arrival at one of these ground frames, the guard would place the tablet into a device to release the ground frame which would allow him to set the points to shunt the train into the intermediate sidings. After resetting the points for the main line, he would then place the tablet into a machine similar to those seen here. This would release the appropriate instrument in the signal box, allowing the signalman to withdraw a tablet from that, which he could then place in his main instrument in order to send Train out of section and accept or send another train through the section. The same method would apply, in reverse, when a train was ready to leave the sidings.

Trains from the Staveley direction were always propelled up the steep bank to the ground frames, usually at excessive speed by the whistling English Electric Type 1 (class 20) locomotives, necessitation some slick tablet delivery by the signalman at Markham Colliery Sidings box.

Lever badges at Bolsover boxOne of the most interesting features of the box was the survival of the original pattern Midland Railway brass lever plates, which can be seen more clearly in this enlargement. On the front of the lever was a tiny brass plate, no wider than the lever itself, with a list of any other levers requiring to be pulled prior to the operation of the lever concerned. The description of the function of the lever was carried on large engraved brass plates on the side of the lever.

Later Midland Railway policy was to mount rectangular brass plates on the plates covering the interlocking behind the levers.

The line closed as a through route in 1959, when the line was terminated at Glapwell Colliery. Glapwell Colliery itself closed in 1974, after which no traffic proceeded beyond the intermediate ground frame serving Markham Colliery. The signalman at Bolsover was in the curious situation of signalling several trains per shift, but not seeing any except the annual weed-killing train for four years! This situation ceased when the line was actually truncated at the ground frame and thus Bolsover box became history.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated