North Staffordshire Railway


Opened: 1872

Closed: 1989

Location code: LM84/03

Leek Brook Junction signal boxIn its lifetime of over 110 years, this box changed names twice. When first opened in 1872, it was Cheddleton Junction, but it later became Leek Brook South Junction. In 1935 it became Leek Brook Junction, following the abolition of the East and North Junction boxes that had worked a triangular junction.

Leek Brook Junction was on the direct line from Uttoxter to North Rode, avoiding Stoke-on-Trent. However, it survived the closure of that route, becoming a remote location at the end of what was originally just a branch line turning off here towards Stoke.

The box is built to McKenzie & Holland's first design, used prior to 1875, which had hipped roofs. The North Staffordshire Railway used McK&H exclusively for almost all signalling work, although an in-house design of box was introduced in 1875. An example of the latter can be seen at Stallington, whilst McK&H's own post 1875 design can be seen at Hartlebury Station.

Inside Leek Brook Junction box The interior view of the box shows the 40 lever McKenzie & Holland No.6 pattern frame which was installed in 1916 when certain alterations to the layout were made. Considering that the main line had closed by this date, a surprising number of levers were still in use in the seventies.

The block shelf is devoid of instruments - just a row of telephones from remote signals on the top, and some point and signal repeaters along the front.

Unlike many boxes, this box does not sport a highly polished floor - the wet weather gear at the end is a reminder that signalman at boxes controlling single lines have to make many a trip outside to deliver and collect the single line staff so perhaps a polished floor would be quickly messed up.

Notice the false ceiling which is not commonly found. Boxes that do have them often yield a veritable treasure trove of old train registers and notices when their lofts are explored.

Signal at Leek Brook Junction The Down Branch to Down Bradnop Starting signal (controlled by lever 20) is a standard British Railways (London Midland Region) structure, although the tall main post seems to contrast with the short doll for the signal mounted on the gantry. This signal reads to the Down Branch towards Caldon Quarry; to the left of it was at one time another doll carrying the Down Branch to Down Main Starting, which would have been positioned higher than the other arm. This has been replaced by the disc at the foot of the post (lever 24) because the formation of the main line had become sidings by this time. Lever 20 was the hardest pull in the box. The wire emerged from the front of the cabin, ran down just beyond the junction, doubled back through a detector slide, retraced itself back and then went under the box to emerge from the back and go straight to the signal.

The weight bars have, unusually, been mounted high up the post necessitating an additional ladder - this is normally only done where the signal is mounted on a platform or where space between lines is very limited.

The diamond sign indicates the presence of a track circuit, avoiding the need for a driver to immediately apply Rule 55 and visit the signal box to remind the signalman of the presence of his train.

The last train at Leek Brook Junction ran on the 8th February 1989, and the box was "mothballed" for possible future use. It was officially abolished on 21st August 1993. The line to Caldon Low subsequently re-opened in April 1994 without signalling at this location.

Additional notes by Nick Allsop and David Ingham

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated