Southern Railway


Opened: 1938

Closed: ——

Location code: S26/04

Dorking signal box
Photograph by John Hinson, 1971

In contrast to the small box rationalisation (see Betchworth) the Southern Railway also built some grand establishments during the nineteen-thirties. Most of these adopted the style of a large base (incorporating S&T Lineman's accommodation) with a smaller top section with curved corners. This style quickly adopted the nick-names "Queen Mary" or "Odeon". The name of the box was usually stated on the front of this type of box and until the station was renamed in 1968 it was called Dorking North (with the word North in smaller letters below.)

Interior of Dorking box
Photograph by John Hinson, 1971

The interior was spacious and modern. The frame was manufactured by Westinghouse (their "A2" type) and totalled 44 levers. The Southern standardised on Westinghouse frames although they frequently re-used older types in smaller boxes and for frame renewals. Westinghouse would have normally supplied frames with the lever badge near to the top of the lever (the drilled holes can be seen) but the SR continued the Stevens & Sons practice of locating them near to the floor. Original Stevens' plates are illustrated at Dean.

At the time of these photographs, trains were signalled by Track Circuit Block between Leatherhead and this box, but onward to Holmwood working was Absolute Block, using two-position instruments.

Block instrument in Dorking box
Photograph by John Hinson, 1971

For many years, perched on the block shelf in Dorking box amongst all the modern equipment associated with the colour light signalling and track circuiting that controlled trains from the London direction, was this Tyers one-wire two-position block instrument, used for signalling trains on towards Holmwood.

The common design of block instrument uses three wires and has three indications, but in early years of signalling, the equipment manufacturers (of whom Tyer and Co were leaders) strove to find more economical solutions. Tyer produced several designs for a range of railway companies, and this picture depicts the type supplied to the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway.

The two indications for each line emulated a signal arm, and the arm would be raised or lowered by the signalman at the accepting end of the section by using the appropriate of the two brass plungers, which simultaneously rang the block bell in the other box.

The indications roughly matched the appropriate position of the home and starting signals on opposite lines, and that for the former was painted black and white as that is the way the signal would be viewed from the signal box.

Dorking box is still operational.

About the photographs

Additional notes by Alan Mackenzie and Ian Dudley

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson

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