North London Railway


Opened: 1891

Closed: ——

Location code: LM113/09

Western Junction signal boxWestern Junction box was located on one corner of the triangular junction formed where the North London Railway's lines from Broad Street, Kentish Town and Poplar converged. This box was the only location between Broad Street and Kentish Town Junction (these days known as Camden Road Junction) that was always worked by one box and not by separate boxes as were most locations prior to about 1909.

The box is of the North London's own design, introduced from 1890 to replace the hipped roof designs such as Dalston Junction which was just around the corner. The large locking-room windows are actually detachable, and could be easily removed to facilitate changes of equipment.

The walls are, unusually, timbered both inside and out, giving improved insulation although there were disadvantages. A rat once got itself between the two skins, and proceeded to die there. As a relief signalman I was called out to reopen the box one day, but was not told that the previous signalman had closed the box because the stench of the dying rat was intolerable. Eventually the rat-man arrived, and declared that he could do nothing about it without dismantling the box! He did, however, leave some Rodent Deodorant which did something to control the smell for the week or so it took for the animal to fully decompose.

Inside Western Junction box Stepping inside the box, we find Relief Signalman Hinson at work, offering the Up Motor to Broad Street No.2 which is already approaching on the No.2 Up line. All running signals were three (or less) aspect colour-lights by this date and the levers over in the frame are 10 (No.2 Up Canonbury IB Home) and 9 (No.2 Up Home). When the train is accepted, lever 8 (Up Dalston Junction IB Home) will be cleared, by which time it will be possible to replace lever 10 and send Train out of section to Camden Road Junction. With such a range of Intermediate Block signals, both in rear and in advance, the straightforward methods described in the Block System pages is hardly comparable!

The frame was manufactured by the North London Railway at Bow Works, with stirrup handles as found on London & North Western Railway frames, such as at Widnes No.7. The LNW exercised parental control over the North London, and many signalling features were built in similar style.

The block instruments are the standard British Railways "lego" contraptions, which were installed along the length of the NL in the late fifties to replace the Pryce & Ferreira instruments that had been in use.

Expansion and rationalisation have caused the layout at this box to change dramatically in recent years. Whilst the line to Broad Street has closed, the Poplar line (bottom left on the diagram) has been electrified and now has a frequent passenger service interspaced amongst the dwindling freight traffic, and a new (but little used) curve has been laid in to connect with the Liverpool Street line at Hackney.

All of that layout was controlled from the frame for a while, but in 1987 a small panel replaced the frame and the box adopted the name, from its former next-door neighbour, of Dalston Junction.

Click here for a track layout plan for Western Junction at 1973.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated