North Eastern Railway


Opened: 1914

Closed: ——

Location code: NE9/16

Hammerton signal boxPhotograph copyright © John Whitaker, 1977. >

What is this hut? Well, you may think it is the Gents' Urinal, but it isn't.

This exquisitely designed hut houses the levers working the signalling at Hammerton station. Erected by the North Eastern Railway in 1914, it is one of the last surviving example of the NER's signal huts, once a quite common feature on the lesser lines of their Southern Division.

Hammerton is an intermediate station on the York to Harrogate route - a real oasis of traditional branch line signalling sandwiched between the electronic signalling of York and Leeds.

The lever frame fits snugly in the hut, and the doors can be closed so that it may be secured safely when not in use.

Lwever frame inside the hut at Hammerton< Photograph copyright © John Lilford, 13/1/02

Inside the hut, we see the ten-lever McKenzie & Holland (no16 pattern) frame that signals the simple layout, with the diagram depicted on the British Railways-made diagram above. To the left, the single line from the York direction can be seen, splitting to a double line onwards towards Harrogate.

Lever 1 is the Down Distant, and is still (2002) mechanically operated although in this view it has a lever collar (reminder appliance) on the lever to prevent its use. This is the ring just above the description plate, and is of North Eastern Railway origin.

The yellow painted wheel by the left wall allows adjustment of the length of the signal wire, as the outside temperature can have a significant effect on signals that are a long way from the box.

Some of the signals have shorter handles, indicating that the lever is working a power-operated function - in this case colour light signals.

Lever 7 - the brown lever in mid-position in this view - releases keys that unlock the hand-operated level crossing gates. This provides an indirect form of interlocking between the gates and the signals. The lever is in mid-position as the gates were under repair at the time of the photograph following wind damage.

Signalling instruments at HammertonPhotograph copyright © John Lilford, 13/1/02 >

The signalling instruments are not with the levers, but inside the old booking office.

Prominent in this view is the Tyers Key Token instrument for the single line to Poppleton. The instrument interlocks with the identical twin at Poppleton to ensure that only one Key Token can be withdrawn at a time, which in turn (by being conveyed by the driver) provides the assurance that only one train can be on the single line at a time. Prior to 1972, this section had been double line.

To the left is a BR standard block instrument controlling the double line to Cattal box.

Between these instruments stands a "road works" lamp used for line protection during Engineers' Possessions of the line.

On the left are repeaters to assure the signalman the signal lamps are lit.

With thanks to John Lillford and John Whitaker for providing the photographs for this page.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated