British Railways (North Eastern Region)


Opened: 1956

Closed: ——

Location code: NE31/24

Low Gates signal boxWithin the town of Northallerton, just a short distance off the East Coast Main Line, can be found Low Gates box. It opened in 1956, replacing an older box on the opposite side of the line. It controlled a few sidings and a wheel-operated level crossing

Just four years later, its importance increased significantly. When Northallerton East box (once known as Northallerton Low Junction) closed on 6th March 1960 Low Gates took over control of the junction.

This design of box replaced the range of styles used by the LNER up to 1944 (see Barton Hill) and had many common features with cabins constructed in the Eastern Region (see Sleaford South). Apart from the reversion to a gabled roof, the newer box at Balne has many common features, too.

Inside Low Gates boxInside the box, a 21 lever McKenzie & Holland frame controlled the layout. With the 1960 expansion, a switch panel was provided above the levers in place of the block shelf. All main running signals were colour-light and controlled from the switches on the panel, as were the more distant points. The levers worked the local points, shunt signals and the level crossing.

Working was by track-circuit block to Long Lane and to Northallerton, using bells built into the console (note the round grilles) with the bell tappers above.

Above the console is the statuary signalman's diagram, which is quite large in size through the size of the area controlled. The upper route at the junction connects with the main line at Northallerton High Junction, whilst the lower one (the Longlands Loop) bypasses the station and at one time gave access to the Leeds line without conflicting with important main line traffic.

These photographs were taken around 1977 and many changes have occurred since then.

  • By 1979, the lever frame had been shortened to seventeen levers.
  • Two additional switches were added to protect Romanby Road and Boroughbridge Road level crossings when their cabins were closed and they became controlled using CCTV from Low Gates.
  • With removal of redundant siding connections and motorisation of the crossover nearest the box, all functions were moved to the switch console and all levers in the frame became spare.
  • a new panel, built by BR at York replaced the existing equipment, believed to have taken place 15th April 1990
  • an additional panel, manufatcured by TEW, was brought into use 23rd November 1997 when Long Lane and Picton boxes were abolished.

Although there is little to prevent the signalling here being controlled remotely, for the time being the box lives on. Externally it has received new windows and a new roof - if you think its 1956-look is inelegant, you should see it now!

A diagram of the layout of Low Gates at c1989 can be viewed.

I am very grateful for the contributors to the Forum discussion about Low Gates for providing so much of the above information as I had very little accurate information on the history of this box.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated