Southern Railway


Opened: 1928

Closed: 1982

Location code: S25/17

Mitcham Junction signal boxAt Mitcham Junction, the LB&SCR's route from London Bridge to Dorking and on towards the South Coast intersected with a minor line running between Wimbledon and West Croydon.

In LB&SC days, there had been two boxes here, North and South, controlling the junctions at each end of the station. In 1925, the permitted distance from a box for the working of mechanical points was extended to 350 yards, and this allowed the Southern Railway to erect a new box to control the whole station area.

This box was built mainly in brick, with wood appearing only in and around the glazed area. Until 1935, Southern boxes differed between the three divisions that were the equivalent of the three main constituent railways. Intriguingly, the Central Division boxes adopted London & South Western ideals (see St. Denys) in the window arrangement, with hopper ventilators above the two-by-two windows, although the decorative curved tops to the glazing are omitted.

A slightly later example, featuring SE&C styles plus concrete lintels above the locking-room windows, is illustrated at Hastings.

Inside Mitcham Junction boxThe Southern Railway absorbed a number of railway companies on the brink of financial collapse, and for this reason the new company was not able to spend as much money as it would have wished.

Extensive use of second-hand frames took place, and Mitcham Junction appears to house a re-used LB&SC frame of their 1898 pattern comprising 35 levers.

This type of frame had a lot in common with earlier Stevens & Sons frames, but was not identical. In particular, the quadrant plates featured a raised plate on both sides of the lever. This type of frame would have originally been provided in boxes like Star Lane and must have come from a box that had a relatively short life.

In this view, we see the lever badges mounted high up on the levers in the position used by most railway companies. The Southern, however, moved most of them to a lower position and it was not common to find them mounted as shown here.

Track-circuit block and automatic signalling had been introduced on the main line in 1969, resulting in the large number of short-handled signal levers that can be seen. However, working with Mitcham was by Sykes' Lock & Block (one instrument can be seen on the shelf, to the right of the diagram) whilst to Beddington Lane, the single line was controlled by Electric Train Staff. The actual staff instrument was housed in the station buildings for convenient issue by the porter to drivers, but the interface with bell tapper and dial can just be made out beneath the diagram between the two block bells.

Mitcham Junction survived in this form until 23rd May 1982, when the area was resignalled and controlled from a new power box at Clapham Junction named, curiously, Victoria. Mitcham Junction box stood, derelict, until demolished in 1999. Part of the frame was retrieved for re-use at Rolvenden on the Kent & East Sussex Railway.

Later, the Wimbledon to West Croydon line was closed and converted to a modern tramway. A steep flyover now allows the trams to cross the main line without confliction.

Many thanks to James Palk for addititional information.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated