Tottenham & Hampstead Junction Railway


Opened: 1893

Closed: 1985

Location code: LM114/18

Upper Holloway Signal BoxUpper Holloway was a quaint-looking signalbox that would seem to suit a country location rather than the middle of Holloway, North London. The neat looking Midland Railway signal box, of similar design to Bolsover, was located on the Tottenham and Hampstead line (or Totenham & Hamstead if you believed the rotary train describer that graced the box at Gospel Oak into the seventies) which was a joint concern between the Midland and Great Eastern Railways. The Tilbury boat trains from St Pancras used this line, as did much cross-London freight, and the box could be exceptionally busy right up to the 1980's.

Inside Upper Holloway boxInside the box was a Midland Railway frame, originally of just 16 levers, although extended at the left-hand end with a further three (lettered C, B and A) when loops were added in 1916.

There were only two track-circuits here, indicated on the block shelf, so there was no need for an illuminated diagram. Behind the paper drawing was a diagram for the nearby Highgate Road Junction box dated 1898.

The levers bear a mixture of original brass and British Railways bakelite replacement badges. The altered badges mainly refer to the provision of a separate Facing Point Lock (the reversed blue lever) on the loop points; the track layout itself changed little over the years. Like most Midland locations, the facing points and lock would have originally been "economically" worked from one lever.

BR standard blocks (as seen) replaced the original Midland Railway instruments around 1973, but the luxury of Line Clear Releases on the starting signals is though to have not been provided until c1978/9.

Tumbler interlocking at Upper HollowayHere, the black steel casing has been removed from the frame to reveal the tumbler locking. This was a design peculiar to the Midland Railway.

The left-hand view shows the two "tumblers" either side of each lever (although only one is necessary for distant signals) which rotate as the lever is pulled to drive the locking bars (behind) along the length of the frame to lock other levers that would set conflicting moves. The tumblers were actually operated by the catch handle rather than the lever itself, and the reason that the catch-handles were so small on Midland frames was to prevent a signalman from having sufficient leverage to force the locking. As frames aged and became worn, this became ever easier to do, especially on larger frames, and in British Railways days brass catch-handles were adopted which allowed them to bend or snap if forced.

Tumbler interlocking at Upper HollowayThe right-hand view looks along the back of the frame, showing the range of locking bars. Larger frames needed a locking area twice this size to accommodate the necessary locking - compare with that at West Hampstead. On the end of the frame (in the foreground) are two contact boxes, to energise the electric locks on certain levers. Space physically limited how many contact boxes could be fitted in this fashion, whereas the later tappet frames had the locks along the back of the frame and an unlimited number could be provided. Electric releases on other levers are activated by plungers on the block shelf.

Dusk at Upper Holloway. Upper Holloway's Down Home and Up Starter were mounted on an immense steel structure bracketed out from the embankment. This replaced, in British Railways days, a more humble wooden affair erected by the Midland Railway.

Junction Road Junction has cleared the splitting distant for the Kentish Town branch for a Temple Mills to Acton "Maltese" freight (so called owing to the maltese cross symbol indicating fitted-head freight trains in the Working Timetable) which will find its destination by way of Carlton Road Junction, Cricklewood Junction and Acton Wells Junction.

The line sees little freight traffic these days owing to lengthened block sections and weight restrictions on part of the line, but one mechanical box still survives at Harringay Park Junction. However, a small rationalisation scheme eliminated Junction Road Junction and this box in 1985, and the area is now controlled from a panel in a rather basic-looking cabin on the opposite side of the line.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated