North Eastern Railway


Opened: 1878

Closed: 1989

Location code: NE11/30

General view of Burton Lane boxBurton Lane box was situated on the outskirts of York, on the main line to Scarborough. Here, a branch turned off to serve the Foss Islands branch and, most importantly, Rowntree's chocolate factory.

We see the box here on a murky day, viewed from the road that replaced the level crossing long ago. The crossing is, though, still detectable by the fence at the foot of the box stairs.

Burton Lane signal boxThe box itself is of the Southern Division of the North Eastern's earliest standard design, which was used through to 1903. Many early examples were very squat -see Leyburn. Nearly all were of all brick construction, with large corner pillars that limited the signalman's view when compared with other divisions' and companies' practices. Weaverthorpe demonstrates an intriguing variation of this type.

From an early date, the Southern Division chose McKenzie & Holland as their main lever frame supplier from the 1880's, and this policy permeated into the other divisions, continuing right through into the British Railways era as the North Eastern Region.

The original frame at this box comprised 22 levers, but this was renewed in June 1908 with a 32-lever McKenzie & Holland example which remained in use up to the closure of the box on 30th April 1989.

A most splendid signal from a past era guarded departures from the Foss Islands branch. In the 1870's, signal arm indications were horizontal (as shown here) for "stop" or not visible at all for "clear". This was achieved by creating a slot in the signal post into which the arm would disappear.

Although this signal has long been converted to act like other conventional signals, the area the arm would lower into can be clearly seen as the post widens out at that point.

In those early days the spectacle plate would have only had one glass, too, displaying red for "stop" and white for clear.

If you would like to see how the signal used to work, move the mouse near the signal arm, and if you are lucky, you'll see the 130 year old signalman pull off.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated