Furness Railway


Opened: 1897

Closed: 1983

Location code: LM109/05

Vickers Gun Range SidingsOpened on 2nd December 1897, this neat little cabin was originally named Monk Moors, and controlled a single siding connection into Eskmeals Gun Range. In 1907 another siding was added on the opposite side of the line, necessitating an enlargement of the ten-lever frame by one lever. It took up the new name of Vickers Gun Range Sidings in October 1932. The box was only ever opened "as required", being manned by a porter-signalman from the nearby Eskmeals halt.

The box does not appear to conform to any particular design found elsewhere.

During the 1960s, the box was reduced in status to be worked as a ground frame worked by the guard of any train calling at the siding. He would collect the key to the box from the signalman at Bootle. After using the siding, the guard would drop it off at Drigg, from where it would be returned to Bootle by any convenient means.

Traffic to the siding ceased during the 1970's and the cabin was abolished on 24th April, 1983.

Interior of Vickers Gun Range Sidings boxThe most extraordinary feature of this box was the lever frame. Manufactured by Ransomes & Rapier during the period 1871 to 1881, this frame was clearly second-hand when installed here in 1897. Popularly known as "horse-rake" frames, these were moderately common on the Great Northern Railway but rare elsewhere. Whether others existed on the Furness Railway in early signal installations is not known.

The frames were manufactured in units of five, separated by castings similar to the end pieces. Slots in these allowed locking bars to slide horizontally (actuated by specific lever operation) to lock levers as appropriate. There was a price to pay for this simple design, for it was difficult for the signalman to operate the levers without dirtying his clothing.

Behind the lever handles is the painted lever description board, and above can be seen the instrument shelf, which was of course empty after the cabin had been demoted to ground frame status.

This historical lever frame is now in the care of the York Railway Museum. The box structure was dismantled in 1992 and removed for preservation, but has not been seen since.

Click here to view a page from the Train Register Book for 28.5.32
This was the second of only three Train Register Books used during the entire life of the box.

Additional notes by David Ingham

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated