London, Chatham & Dover Railway


Opened: c1876

Closed: 1983

Location code: S39/21

Farningham Road signal boxAlthough the actual opening date for this small cabin has not been established, it clearly dates from the 1876 to 1884 era when Saxby & Farmer built many signal boxes to this design. Other factors (such as the detail of the lever frame) suggest that it comes from the earlier end of that period.

Farningham Road box controlled a wayside station of the same name, found just east of Swanley on the London, Chatham & Dover's main line.

In 1959, colour light signalling was provided in connection with the electrification of the main line, and at the same time the signalling was rationalised. At that time, the local freight traffic justified the retention of this box, but the opportunity was taken to close Fawkham Junction box (the junction for the Southfleet branch) and control it from a small panel here at Farningham Road.

The two interior photographs of the box show this small panel clearly, mounted on the instrument shelf above the 20-lever Saxby & Farmer lever frame.

There is plenty of other interest in these views, too. Very noticeable in the right-hand view is the fact that the central batch of levers stand at a different angle to the rest of the frame. This was an intriguing factor in a number of early locking frames (compare with Sarnau) but few survived into recent years. As originally built, this would have had Rocker interlocking similar to that illustrated at Heckington

View inside Farningham Road box   Another view inside Farningham Road box

The red levers control the signals - notice here the levers at each end of the frame are in the "reversed" position and have shorter handles than many other levers. This signifies that they have no weight to them because the signals are colour-light - a reminder to the signalman to not put any effort behind them when pulling the levers.

The brown and white levers are interesting, too. These are "closing levers", allowing the signals to work automatically, and switching the telephones through to the adjacent boxes at Swanley and Rochester.

The only signalling instruments on the shelf are two bells for the Track Circuit Block working. However, there is a good clutter of ancillary equipment to be seen.

In later years, of course, the local freight service to Farningham Road ceased, and the connections were subsequently rarely used. Thereafter, the box's sole function was to control trains on and off the Southfleet line at the remote Fawkham Junction.

The box spent most of its later life "open as required", being manned only when needed. Nevertheless, as can be seen from the photographs, it was kept in immaculate condition.

Closure of the Southfleet line led to the closure of this box on 12th June 1983.

General view from the station at Farningham Road

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated