Isle of Wight Railway


Opened: 1893

Closed: 1989

Location code: S69/08

Sandown signal box
Photograph by John Hinson, 1977

When the arm of the Isle of Wight Railway was forced by the Board of Trade, proper interlocked signalling and block working was introduced in the early 1890s. Much of this work was carried out by the contractors Saxby & Farmer, resulting in a number of boxes being erected to their 1884 design.

Sandown was one of these, but unusually it was was built on the platform and penetrated the station awning. This was the only way the signalman would be able to see the layout at each end of the curved station as well as the Merstone branch. During the 1980s, the awning was removed, fully exposing the box.

The box was provided with a 31-lever frame of Saxby & Farmer's Duplex tappet type, which had been introduced in 1888. Initially, all lines from here were single, but greater flexibility in train operation was achieved by the later doubling of the line to Brading.

Through working to Ventnor ceased in 1966, and the adjacent box at Shanklin became the terminus of the line. With the introduction of the electric service, Key Token operation of the single lines was replaced by a form of Tokenless Block using conventional Absolute Block instruments.

An ingenious arrangement allowed Shanklin box to close out and the line be worked as a dead end from Sandown. Sandown had still to accept trains from the switched-out box on the block instrument in order for the motor-operated starting signal at Shanklin to clear.

Shanklin was only required to open when a full summer service was operating, and in a very short length of time the service was reduced so that Shanklin was, in fact, rarely opened.

Sandown box officially closed on 30th October 1988, when control was to be assumed by the "Isle of Wight Signalling Centre" which is in fact simply Ryde St Johns Road box. Some levers in the box remained connected, to allow it to be used as a ground frame outside normal traffic periods. However, owing to probelms with the new equipment, the box was used in an operational capacity during traffic hours between 25/11/88 and 25/3/89, controlling just two signals by switches on the block shelf, with self-acting points for the loop.It closed completely on 25th March 1989.

Additianl notes by David Ingham

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Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson

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