London & South Western Railway


Opened: c1869

Closed: 1980

Location code: S66/06

Gunnersbury signal box
Photograph by John Hinson, 1974

This little signal box opened in 1869, along with the railways in the area. At that time it was called Gunnersbury Junction, and controlled the junction at the north end of Gunnersbury station which was in Chiswick, West London. The station couldn't be called Chiswick, though, as there had been a station of than name since 1849 on the Hounslow Loop. This new railway of 1869 linked Richmond with Kensington and was signalled from the outset. The contractor employed was Saxby & Farmer, and this box is a fine example of their 1868 design with the extra upper windows above the main sections.

At the same date, the Kingston Loop was under construction and similar boxes were built along that line - see Malden Crossing.

In 1881, the station was enlarged, and a replacement 22-lever frame was provided by the London & South Western; this was of Stevens & Sons design which was the L&SW's preferred type. It was around this time that the box became known as Gunnersbury East, although Gunnersbury North would have been more accurate.

Interior of Gunnersbury box
Photograph by John Hinson, 1974

This view shows the 1881 frame, increased to 23 levers, which remained in use for the rest of the life of the box. Notice the BR block on the instrument shelf - these were not normally used by the Southern Region of BR, but this one works to Bollo Lane Junction (which had passed to the LMR).

The station here has had a chequered career - in its prime it had four platform faces, serving junctions at both ends of the station. Decline set in early with the closure of the Chiswick Curve (the branch at the west end of the station in 1932, along with Gunnersbury West box. The station was reduced to two platforms and by the 1960s the remainder of the station had been cleared and built upon. The original concept is now unrecognisable.

Meanwhile, train working developments had seen the electrification of the line on the fourth-rail system in 1905 and use by the frequent service of the District Railway, now the District Line of the Underground system. The branch here, which linked to the North London Railway at South Acton, was also electrified - in 1916. After the second-world war, Richmond became the sole western terminus for former NL services. Both District and North London services still follow this pattern today.

Gunnersbury box closed on 26th March 1980 and is now controlled from the panel in Richmond box, although it is interesting to note that the signals in the area are plated "GB".

About the photographs

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson

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