London & North Western Railway


Opened: 1893

Closed: 1982

Location code: LM36/22

Widnes No.7 signal boxFor being in what is generally considered to be one of the less charming parts of the United Kingdom, Widnes No.7 box was actually full of charm. The box was located on the London & North Western's Manchester to Liverpool (via Warrington) route, and controlled the junction with the branch to St. Helens which actually passed under the line before curving steeply up to reach No.7 box.

Externally, the box represents the standard LNW design of the 1876 to 1904 period although the majority were built with brick bases. This example may be compared with a brick-based equivalent at Chester No4.

Inside Widnes No7 box The true character of the box could only be discovered when you stepped inside. The original 20-lever LNW Tumbler locking frame was still in use - notice the LNW's practice of providing a stirrup-like handle on the front of the lever in place of the catch handle found on most types of lever frame.

Above the levers, on the block shelf, are three LNW block instruments, often referred to as "tombstone" blocks because they are so tall and upright.

Behind the levers are standard LNW signalmen's lockers; these double up as benches although they would be little use as such given their location! One (painted white) has been stood on end to make a cupboard.

Lever badges at Widnes No7 Behind the levers are the descriptions of the functions of each lever. LNW practice was to individually cast the plates, and paint them the same colour as the levers concerned. In the case of points and facing point lock levers, the upper plate describes the function of the lever when normal in the frame, whilst the lower describes the function when the lever is reversed.

The blue plate is for lever 10, which is the facing point lock for no.11 points. To the left of that is a standard British Railways (LM Region) ivorine plate for lever 9.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated