British Railways (Southern Region)


Opened: 1961

Closed: 1984

Location code: S41/07

Lenham signal box Lenham, on the Swanley - Maidstone - Ashford route, would originally have had a Saxby & Farmer box dating from 1884 (when the line opened) as seen at Bearsted, which was just a few stations up the line from here. However, a new yard was provided here in 1961 as a result of the 1955 British Railways Modernisation Plan which necessitated the provision of a larger cabin.

The box was built to a newly introduced design of the Southern Region which was in the main used for the many medium-sized power boxes commissioned between 1961 and 1966, replacing the less attractive style found at Belvedere.. However, a few mechanical boxes were built in this style at the more remote locations.

Partly out of view to the left is a Southern Railway upper-quadrant signal arm fitted to a Stevens & Sons' lattice post probably erected when the line opened; this would of course originally been provided with a lower-quadrant arm.

Interiro of Lenham box As with many modern boxes, Lenham was spacious and comfortable - note the central heating radiator. The frame is to the Westinghouse Brake & Signal Company's design, which was standardised upon by the Southern Railway and British Railways (Southern Region). However, the frame at Lenham was unique in having been built under licence by Butterworth, Dickenson & Co., a firm not otherwise connected with railway signalling equipment manufacture.

Only four of the levers of this frame are disused in this picture - the white-painted ones. The red levers control signals and the black levers work the points. The blue lever ("reversed" in the frame) is a facing point lock. Levers 1 and 2, with the chevrons, operate the emergency detonators. It was Southern practice to provide these on the levers nearest the exit door so that the signalman could quickly pull them over while (theoretically) rushing out to protect an emergency. Notice that the upward pointing chevrons apply to the Up Line and vice versa.

On the block shelf are a set of "Sykes' One-Wire, Two-Position, Lock and Block Instruments, with Double-Arm Block Indicator" which are illustrated and described in detail at Canterbury East. Whilst it seems curious to provide such old-fashioned equipment in a modern box, this was necessary to maintain compatibility along the line to allow switching-out of boxes during quiet periods.

The line was resignalled with track-circuiting and automatic signals in 1984, bringing about the abolition of this and other boxes on the line.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated