British Railways (Southern Region)


Opened: 1953

Closed: c2005

Location code: S42/07

Snowdown Colliery signal box
Photograph by John Hinson, 1978

There is something ironic about the fact that I photographed Snowdown Colliery box in thick snow!

The box opened in 1953, pushing it well into the BR era, but it is known that it was on the drawing board as early as 1949. This probably explains the spartan design, based on the wartime "Air Raid Precautions" type of the Southern Railway illustrated at Crabtree Crossing.

Interestingly, the box was not provided with a Westinghouse frame as would be expected, but a 20-lever Stevens & Sons frame was fitted. This was second-hand, and may have been transferred form the earlier box that had been here.

Snowdown Colliery signal box
Photograph by John Hinson, 1978

Looking at this picture, it might be assumed that the sidings serving the colliery had been lifted, but the rails are simply concealed by a very recent heavy snow-shower. In accordance with railway practice, the boundary between railway and colliery property is marked by a gate.

Snowdown Colliery is on the Faversham to Dover line, between Canterbury and Shepherdswell. Coal has been mined here since 1912, and a sizeable halt was provided in 1914 for the benefit of the miners. The sidings were big enough to justify a Coal Board engine shed, and steam operation lasted until the late 1970s. After the closure of the colliery in 1987, the sidings found further short-term use as storage for materials used during the building of the Channel Tunnel and at this time the box acquired new nameplates marked Railfreight Construction. The facilities are again disused, although the box was still manned during the peak hours in the early 1990s. It subsequently stood boarded up and derelict, with the stop signals disconnected from the frame and fixed in the "off" position and the distant signals fixed at caution. It did not see further service, and was formally abolished around 2005 and was demolished over easter of that year.

About the photographs

Additional notes by Stuart Johnson and Peter Spratling

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson

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