North Eastern Railway


Opened: 1895

Closed: ——

Location code: NE24/03

Winning signal box and level crossingThe omnibus telephone rings, and the signalman answers it. A voice asks "Are you Winning?"

I'm sure that joke has been cracked a thousand times, but I can't help thinking of it every time I look at photographs of this box.

Winning box is on the former Blyth & Tyne section of the NER, the signal box dates from 1895 and controls a level crossing in the area of West Sleekburn, near Stakeford, midway between Bedlington and Ashington. It is located on the link to Cambois serving the former coal staithes and power station, now only used for the traffic to Alcan at North Blyth.

Winning box was was one of three boxes on the corners of a triangular junction - the others had the delightful-sounding names West Sleekburn (now closed) and Marcheys House

As a general rule a Winning is the name given to a coal seam on discovery before it's officially named and may not refer to the name of the actual colliery.

Noteworthy in this photograph are the boom gates which were popular with BR's North Eastern Region. These gates, of massive length, are driven by an electric motor mounted adjacent to the tyred wheel two-thirds of the way along the gate. Other places illustrated here with boom gates are Brampton Fell and Tile Shed. The motorised boom gates at Winning are scheduled for replacement by lifting barriers in April 2011.

Winning signal box The box is to the Northern Division of the NE's design, similar to Milton. This variation of their design used from the 1870's through to the end of the company's existence embodied a row of three locking room windows - the centre one being larger than the others.

Winning box is unusually deep in shape, allowing the signalman a considerable amount of circulating space.

The original frame was replaced in 1963 by a smaller 15-lever frame of the McKenzie & Holland No.16 type (as at Wolsingham) which was built from second-hand parts from older frames.

The box nameboard is not blank, as might appear. It seems it must have been painted over when the box was last redecorated, and in the absence of a suitable signwriter, the name has been stencilled on in unusually small letters.

To see a track layout plan of the box for 1968, click here.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated
Additional notes by Ian Hughes