London & South Western Railway


Opened: c1890

Closed: 1981

Location code: S57/21

Chapel Crossing signal boxChapel Crossing was in Southampton (with a name like that it should be in South Wales!) on the original main route to Southampton Docks which later became a branch when lines opened through what was later Southampton Central towards Brockenhurst and Poole.

This design of box was introduced by the London & South Western in 1884, replacing the small and compact structures (see Pinhoe) used until then. Most boxes of this type had a larger number of smaller panes in the window sections and it is quite likely that those at Chapel Crossing had been renewed at some time. A number of examples of this type also included additional small windows under the eaves. This type continued in use until 1895, when a new design (as at St. Denys) was adopted.

The cabin controlled a layout of four lines and several siding connections from a 31-lever Stevens & Sons' frame (it had originally been 26 levers) which was the type adopted by the LSW as their standard and is illustrated at Romsey. Also controlled (by a capstan wheel) were four unusually large gates, the size being necessary to cross four lines. Notice the "rear-view" mirror to help the signalman see the road traffic as he wound the gates.

The lines to the docks were gradually reduced as traffic dropped, and in 1980 the line was singled. By the time the box closed in 1981, just two trains a week used the line. At closure, the crossing became an ungated with warning lights.

The cabin and contents were acquired by the Swanage Railway. The cabin timberwork has become too badly deteriorated to be used in itself, however it has been used to learn the correct timber patterns and joints, which were subsequent employed in new timberwork for the new signalboxes at Harmans Cross and Swanage. The frame is in store on the Swanage Railway. The remaining equipment and original sign are also either in safe store or in use. The catwalk along the side of the original box is of interest, since three new brackets and stanchions have been cast off the three originals in the photo, the resulting set of six will very shortly adorn Swanage's new box. They are narrower than usual, so it looks like window-cleaning will fall to the slimmer signalmen!

Additional notes by Stuart Watd, Head of S&T of the Swanage Railway.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated