London & North Western Railway


Opened: 1904

Closed: 1984

Location code: LM25/15

Chester No4 signal boxThe London & North Western built many large and imposing signalboxes, several of which could be found at Chester.

This one is Chester No4, situated at the west end of the station where the lines diverged for the Holyhead or Birkenhead directions. In this view, the Birkenhead lines can be seen curving away in the background, although most of the complex trackwork that was once here has been removed. The next box, Chester No5, can just be seen as a "blob" in the picture next to the left-hand end of the box.

Closer view of Chester No4 signal boxLooking more closely at the box (on a sunnier day!) we find a large-sized version of the most common signal box design on the LNW, a gabled-roof version of the type illustrated at Monks Siding. This design was introduced in 1876, but this example was one of the last of this type, erected in 1904.

The end windows of the box are taller - some of the later examples of this type were provided with these where deemed necessary to provide a better view. This size of window was adopted as standard after 1904 on all boxes.

Whilst most boxes on the LNW were built with brick bases, all-timber examples did exist - one can be seen at Widnes No7.

Chester No4 was provided with a 176-lever LNWR tappet interlocking frame, although by the date of these photographs (1982) only a handful remained in use.

Signal gantry at ChesterThis steel signal gantry with wooden signal dolls controlled the entrance to the station, and once carried a further eight arms mounted on other dolls. The main signal arms have been renewed as LMS/BR upper quadrants, but the miniature arms below were late survivors of LNWR origin

Nearly all of these signal arms were jointly controlled by Chester No4 and Chester No3A - not clearing until both signalmen had operated their respective levers. This arrangement is called "slotting".

A close up view of signal arms at Chester No4.A detail view of the surviving arms allows a closer view of the calling-on arms, which carry the BR colour scheme of a white horizontal band edged in red.

Calling-on signals are used to indicate to drivers that their train is being signalled onto a line already occupied by a train. At Chester, this could be to allow two trains to occupy one platform (perhaps to couple up) or to admit an engine onto a train to couple.

Chester No4 box closed in May 1984 and the area is now controlled from a Chester power box.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated