London, Brighton & South Coast Railway


Opened: 1890

Closed: 1978

Location code: S31/20

Longhedge Junction signal boxLonghedge Junction was an important freight junction in Battersea, South London, serving routes from five different directions and with six running lines passing the box.

The box was built by Saxby & Farmer in 1890, to the same design illustrated at DraytonDrayton which dated from 1876. Although this design had been replaced in 1884 by two variants - see Bearsted and Rye - the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway appear to have specified the continuation of this style for boxes on their lines right up to 1898.

The LB&SC had been building some boxes itself to similar designs since 1872 - see Cooksbridge and Mitcham. From 1898 all boxes were erected by the railway company to a completely new design which can be seen at Star Lane.

Box nameboard at Longhedge JunctionIn this example, the small upper windows have been painted out - but they can be identified more clearly in the interior view below.

Longhedge Junction retained its original LB&SC nameboard, built from cast-iron letters screwed into a plain piece of timber

Inside Longhedge Junction A view inside Longhedge Junction box shows the 59 lever Saxby & Farmer Rocker frame that controlled the layout. The rocker locking was replaced by standard tappet locking in 1905.

Notice how the Facing Point Lock lever (blue) comes over a lot further in the frame than the (black) points levers. This was a common feature in early lever frames from a number of manufacturers, but the logic behind this isn't terribly clear.

Walker's train describer Signalling to the five adjoining boxes, which were Factory Junction, Stewarts Lane, Clapham Junction "B", Pouparts Junction (as in the jam factory!) and Latchmere Junction, entirely by Sykes Lock & Block system, although by the date of these photographs some rationalisation has taken place and many of the instruments have been removed. The Latchmere Junction instrument was a less-common three-position design.

Accompanying the instruments was this splendid Train Describer, designed by Walker for the South Eastern & Chatham Railway.

The destinations of trains are shown on the small white discs (some have been removed) and the pointer is set by the signalman at Latchmere Junction. As the pointer moves, the little bell on top rings to draw attention, and the number of beats enabled the signalman to know the indication without actually examining the instrument.

Close up of badge on Walkers Train describerThe ornateness is completed by an excessively fancy (and rather worn) enamel plate indicating the name of the box sending the signals.

As mentioned above, in later years the layout at Latchmere Junction was reduced in later years, with the LB&SC lines passing behind the box unsignalled and the remaining connections converted to single-lead arrangement. Nevertheless, the box soldiered on through to 23rd July 1978, after which the area was controlled by a panel in Stewarts lane box.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated