GNR Somersault signal

Signal boxes of the

Early signalling on the Midland Railway had been basic; although the company invented an interlocked lever frame in the late 1860s which was such a successful design that it, with technical improvements over the years, continued to be manufactured through to the 1960s.

Block working was established around the company's large network from 1869, resulting in a large number of boxes being erected at that time. Most of these had been replaced within thirty years as the standards of signalling were upgraded, requiring larger lever frames, but they set standards of architecture that lasted through the remaining 54 years of the company's existence. Almost all were built entirely in timber, allowing speedy erection from pre-fabricated parts - many of which would be re-used if a box had a short life. Many of these boxes survive in use today.

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Whittington Road Crossing

The first boxes of the Midland Railway appeared around 1870. Distinctive features, which were retained throughout the existence of the company, were a hipped roof and particularly the window sections with chamfers in the framework at the top. Early boxes normally featured two finials on the tips of the roof, but this example is exactly square in plan and thus only needs one. Vertical timbering was provided from operating floor level upwards and, although this example has no lower floor to demonstrate this, weatherboarding below.

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A similar-sized box of the same type, but slightly elevated above ground level.

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Upper HollowayPage includes views of lever framePage includes views of signals and other outdoor equipment

From 1884, the windows in the front wall were extended downwards to allow the signalman a better view of the pointwork immediately in front of his signal box. Many boxes of this type were built during during the period through to 1901.

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BolsoverPage includes views of lever framePage includes close-up views of lever badges

A box of the same design, but built to a lower height than typical.

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St Albans SouthPage includes views of lever frame

Taller boxes were built, too, in this case to command a better view of the four-track main line controlled by the box. This example was extended during the 1950's to accommodate a larger lever frame which, in the event, was never fitted.

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West HampsteadPage includes views of lever framePage includes close-up views if signalling instruments and equipmentPage includes close-up views of box diagramPage includes views of signals and other outdoor equipment

The window arrangement changed again from 1900 to include taller windows in the end walls as well as at the front. On the larger boxes, the bottom four panes of each window section were combined to become one large pice of plate glass.

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Upper Portland Sidings

Smaller boxes of the 1900 pattern retained the small panes of glass. This may indicate the reuse of parts from dismantled cabins as the Midland Railway liked to recycle.

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NapsburyPage includes views of lever framePage includes views of signals and other outdoor equipment

Another 1900-pattern box with the small-size panes. After 1906, lapped boarding was used in place of weatherboarding. Boxes of this type were built through to 1928, although finials were not provided after 1917.

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Ilkley Junction

From 1908, another change of glazing design reduced the number of panes in each window section to two, although again this arrangement was only applied in larger boxes. The chamfered top corners were still retained. This example oversails from a narrow base owing to the limited space available. This design was discontinued in 1915, but returned in 1917 without finials on the roof.

The Midland railway became part of the London, Midland & Scottish in 1923.