London & North Western Railway


Opened: 1884

Closed: —

Location code: LM30/14

Edgeley Junction No1 signal box
Photograph by John Hinson, 1980

Two new boxes were provided at Edgeley Junction (south of Stockport) in 1884 by the London & North Western Railway in connection with substantial enlargements to the layout. Prior to that date, the line through here had been a simple double track with a three-way junction and two siding connections. Almost overnight, the number of running lines between the boxes was increased to eight!

Both boxes were built to the LNW's typical architecture of the period, a design which had been introduced in 1876. The majority of these had panelled brick bases and wooden top portions. Many boxes of this type were built, including some very large examples - see also Chester No4.

Interior of Edgeley Junction No1
Photograph by John Hinson, 1980

The LNW Tumbler-locking frame here originally totalled 90 levers to work the layout, but this view shows it in "shortened" form. During the 1970s, the layout was rationalised and the junction points converted to motor operation and this allowed the frame to be reduced to 54 levers. The arrangement resulted in rather less legwork for the signalmen and allowed a reduction in staffing as prior to this date the box had been manned by two signalmen per shift aswell as the booking boy.

The diagram above the frame shows the layout. Across the centre run the four Fast and Slow lines, along with the Down Goods which by this date by this date was not controlled by No1 and simply passed behind the box. Below these on the plan, the branch to Northenden Junction changes from double to single line; the physical junction where this joins the Fast and low lines is at No2 box. On the opposite side of the main lines, the Buxton line diverges.

All signals here are colour-light - for Edgeley Junction is on the electrified main line between Crewe and Manchester. This, combined with the power operation of points, means that there are no mechanical functions whatsoever and all working levers have shortened handles to reflect this.

Lower floor of Edgeley Junction No1
Photograph by John Hinson, 1980

Many of the larger boxes of this design featured an internal staircase, requiring entry through the locking room. In this view, the "tumbler" locking can be seen in its vertical rack on the right. In exceptionally large boxes, this rack would be of considerable height, often making it necessary to built the box to a taller height than would otherwise have been required.

The grey boxes mounted on the ceiling are electric locks attached to the levers.

The signalman's closet is tucked under the staircase, and some wag has obtained a station sign and fitted it there.

Lever frame and block instruments at Edgeley Junction No1
Photograph by John Hinson, 1980

Despite electrification and modernisation, the Absolute Block system still applies between the boxes in the Stockport area. The main reason this was retained was to obviate the need for a large amount of slotting of signals between boxes that would become necessary to maintain the overlaps demanded by Track Circuit Block. At the time of these photographs, all instruments were of the LNW pattern. The grey box between them is a minor concession to modernisation - loudspeaker communication between here and Cheadle Hulme Junction box (now closed) to assist train regulation.

At this time, the Stockport area was using more special routing bell signals than anywhere else on BR. All three sets of standard special routing codes were in use including, of course, the electric variants. On top of these, 4-4-6 was used for Pullman trains.

A large stack of "lever collars" are placed on spare levers 44 and 45. These are probably the simplest form used by any railway company - a simple steel loop. These are placed on the lever as seen on No46, preventing the stirrup handle from being operated.

Router instrument at Edgeley Junction No1
Photograph by John Hinson, 1980

As if the bell signals weren't enough to identify the destination of trains, a pair of simple train describers of ancient vintage were also provided. They were worked by the signalman at Stockport No1, the next box beyond Edgeley Junction No2. This instrument was built by Tyer & Co, using parts that were really designed for block instruments. Instruments of this type were extensively used by the LNW in complex areas, although the units were normally built to take a single needle.

All of the boxes in this area are on borrowed time - Edgeley Junction No1 is, at the time of writing (2002), still operational but scheduled for abolition in connection with the modernisation of signalling in the Manchester area. The only reason that it survives is because the new signalling has not yet proved itself to be satisfactory. It is doubtful that the new signalling will get anywhere near the 118 years life this box has achieved.

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