London, Chatham & Dover Railway


Opened: c1870

Closed: 1981

Location code: S45/20

Loughborough Junction Little is know of the history of this intriguing signal box, but its completely undefinable architecture, together with its presence at a key junction in Brixton, South London, would suggest that its origins went back a long, long way.

There is a three-way junction here; in this view from the station platform, the main route from Holborn Viaduct towards Herne Hill passes to the right of the camera, with the far tracks forming into the divergence of a short spur to Cambria Junction. To the left, in this view, another spur links to Canterbury Road Junction on the Victoria to Nunhead route.

The box held a commanding view of the running lines, although the wooden frontal area may have been built outwards to improve the view as the other glazing is limited.

Loughborough Junction, viewed from ground levelLooking at the box from ground level reveals that it is around twice the height that might have been imagined, owing to the lines being viaduct-bound at this point.

The early history of this box has been hard to trace, and despite its individual looks it seems to have lived an uneventful life and been paid little attention by historians.

The earliest information traced so far is a 1949 signalling plan which shows the layout to have been worked from a 53-lever LC&DR frame, which would have been very similar to that illustrated at Shepherdswell. This frame appears to have remained in use through to 1970.

Inside Loughborough Junction box
Photograph Copyright © Peter Grant

The frame was replaced by a panel on (it is believed) 21st February 1970, but this was not a conventional panel by any means.

The signalman has a miniature console to set the routes, but the track circuits and signal indications are shown on an illuminated diagram in a glass case - a common feature in manual signal boxes but rare for power signalling.

The panel and diagram are surrounded by train describer equipment of various dates. Lower left, Southern Railway wooden-cased magazine train describers date from the 1930's are used to describe trains to Herne Hill on the Holborn lines. Above them is a modern four-character train describer for descriptions to and from Blackfriars on the Local and Through lines. There is also a large television screen provided (out of shot to the right) which acts as the fringe box facility to the box at Clapham Junction named Victoria, which came into use when Shepherds lane Junction closed.

Close-up view of the signal diagram at Loughborough Junction
Photograph Copyright © Peter Grant

A closer view of the diagram reveals that it isn't quite what it seems at a casual glance.

Apart from showing track circuit indications in conventional pattern, red and green lights act as signal repeaters to show whether signals are "on" or "off". Note that a green indication does not necessarily mean the signal is showing a green aspect to the driver - it could be yellow, double-yellow or green as the individual aspects are not shown to the signalman. Another feature not found on conventional signal box diagrams is the presence of rows of white lights to show which routes have been set.

One final significant difference from a normal Southern Region illuminated diagram is the use of an angular style of drawing, with everything in straight lines. Whilst the London Midland, Eastern and Scottish Regions adopted this style extensively, the Southern always used curves to draw the layout in manual boxes.

Loughborough Junction remained in use through to 29th November 1981, when it was abolished in connection with the resignalling of the area under the control of the new Victoria power box.

View 1949 signal box diagram

Additional notes by Keith Barber and Peter Grant

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated