London, Chatham & Dover Railway


Opened: c1878

Closed: ——

Location code: S42/08

Shepherds Well signal boxShepherds Well is a minor station found on the London, Chatham and Dover's main route to the latter town.

This cabin was erected here around 1878, and is one of a relatively small number erected by the company themselves - most of their signalling work was carried out by contractors.

The LC&D's own structures generally had gabled roofs and vertical timbering - usually with a brick base. A similar, but not identical, box can be seen at Bat & Ball.

Inside Shepherds Well boxStepping inside the box for a moment, we find a 23-lever frame also built by the LC&D, which also dates from around 1878.

Notice how short the stroke of the levers is - bearing a remarkable similarity to the South Eastern Railway's equivalent (see Edenbridge) although there is no reason why they should be similar. Visible differences in the LC&D type are less rounded tops to the levers and raised quadrants in the floor plates.

The Absolute Block instrument to Snowdown Colliery and a closing switch can be seen on the instrument shelf.

The black-painted devices attached to the levers are believed to be wire adjusters, to allow the signalman to compensate for heat expansion of the signal wires.

View of Shepherds Well from the stationLooking towards the box from the station, this view is dominated by a very typical LC&D bracket signal. Although the arm has been replaced by a standard upper-quadrant one, the remainder of the signal is very original. The posts are latticework, for strength but little wind resistance, and the bracket is extended leftwards slightly to allow more efficient bracing. A metal finial, purely for decoration, sits at the top.

All of the Up Line signals at Shepherdswell were replaced by colour-lights in 1980 when the signalling north of Dover was concentrated on a panel in Dover Priory box.

For many years the box served Tilmanstone Colliery, as evidenced by the loaded wagons in the Up Siding, but this was one of the many that closed after the 1985 miners' strike. the sidings remain, at the time of writing, disused.

The Faversham to Dover route is still conventionally signalled as far as Shepherds Well, and this box survives in use today, at well over 120 years of age.

Additional notes by Steve Luxton and James Palk

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated