Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway


Opened: 1894

Closed: 1966

Location code: S11/03

Wellow signal boxThe only Somerset & Dorset signal box to have survived in its original location is Wellow, which has been taken into private ownership, along with the station.

The Somerset & Dorset was jointly owned by the London & South Western and Midland Railways, although it is clear that the former carried out most of the signalling work. The earliest designs were not unlike the early London & South Western boxes (see Pinhoe), although the neat-fitting hipped roofs were superseded by gabled roofs, as seen here, from 1885. From 1895, standard designs of the London & South Western were used.

Another box of similar design, but built on a stone base, can be seen at Binegar.

The building is currently used as a residence.

Interior of Wellow box
Photograph 3/5/57, by Dr J W F Scrimgeour

Back in 1957, the box was looking a little more active. The layout was a simple double line station with crossover and level crossing, supported by a ground frame at the far end of the station working a second crossover and a connection into the small yard. A Stevens & Sons lever frame of 18 levers was provided to control the layout, but the block signalling was managed by Midland Railway instruments with the original chain and pin system of holding the commutator over. This is supplemented, in the Up direction, by a Sykes' signal release on the Up Starting signal, proving the train has been accepted by Midford box before the signal can be cleared.

Lever 10, in mid-position, is a "push-pull" lever working the two discs for the crossover - pushing the lever to the same position as the other levers operates on of the discs whilst pulling the lever fully over operates the other.

LMS practice is evident in some of the lever descriptions - whilst utilising typical SR plates, the description of signals such as Down Home 1 and Down Home 2 seems odd.

The line fell to the Western Region of British Railways and already their influence is visible in the type of block bells in use and also the closing switch in the centre of the shelf.

As is well documented, the Somerset & Dorset main line was abandoned in the mid-1960s and this box closed on 6th March 1966.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated