THE SIGNAL BOX

PHOTO GALLERY

North Eastern Railway

LEYBURN

Opened: 1876

Closed: 1983

Location code: NE33/14


Leyburn signal boxLeyburn is a fine example of an early Southern Division box on the North Eastern Railway. The other divisions followed their own policies on signalling and had their own box designs - see Haydon Bridge (Northern Division) and Norton South (Darlington Division) for their equivalent architecture.

This style of box was built from the introduction of interlocking in the early 1870's through to 1903. Many at smaller locations were built at or near ground level, resulting in the lower-floor locking room having to be sunk into the ground to allow even stooped access. Many (especially the later examples), were built to more traditional dimensions - one such example is illustrated at Burton Lane.

Many of these early, small boxes had simple signalling worked from a seven or eight lever frame when new, but as principles advanced these were replaced by larger frames which sometimes necessitated enlargement of the box.

Leyburn, once Leyburn East, was one of two boxes that controlled the long passing loop at this station on the Wensleydale branch from Northallerton. In 1941, the West box closed, and that end of the loop became controlled by this box with motor operation of points and track circuits from a new 25-lever McKenzie & Holland No16 pattern frame. You can see the space on the signal box nameboard where the word "East" once was.


Up Starting signal at LeyburnMany boxes on the Wensleydale line retained lower quadrant signals right through to the 1980's. Here we see the Leyburn Up Starter controlling departures from the crossing loop towards Northallerton. It was located so far back from the point where the lines funnelled down to single track because at one time it also protextected the exit from a siding, the location of which can be clearly seen from the plain area of ballast in front of the camera.

The signal is of lattice-post construction, surmounted by the usual finial. Finials were a left-over from the wooden post era, when they were provided to keep the rain off the top of the main part of the post to discourage rot. They developed into ornate designs, a trademark or identity for each particular railway company or contractor.

The arm, which is of wood, perpetuates signalling principles of the 1870's. It is actually pivoted inside the post structure, like the example at Burton Lane. The spectacle itself, however, works on the outside of the post as with any other typical signal.

Traditional signalling remained in use on the Wensleydale branch long after the passenger service had ceased. However, by the 1980's the traffic had dwindled to less than one train per week and the cost of manning so many boxes was matched against the cost of rationalisation - and you can guess which won!

Leyburn box therefore closed on 11th December, 1983.



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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated