Caledonian Railway


Opened: 1873

Closed: ——

Location code: Sc17/06

General view of Hilton JunctionHilton Junction is to be found just south of Perth, at the point where the Caledonian Railway's main route from Glasgow to Aberdeen is joined by the North British Railway's line from Inverkeithing and Ladybank.

The box is located in the vee of the junction, but interestingly it has been built in such a way that the lever frame is at right-angles to traffic. This is not unique - a small number of early signalboxes around the country were built in this manner. Another example (on the Highland Railway) can be seen at Rose Street. Here at Hilton Junction, this arrangement would afford the signalman a good view into the tunnel towards Perth Station, rather important in early days before track-circuiting was introduced.

Hilton Junction would have been one of the first boxes built on the main line, owing to the need to provide some form of safe working through the tunnel on a line worked, at that time, on the primitive "time-interval" system. Later, other boxes would have been built at other stations (such as the nearby Forteviot) and during the 1880's block working would have been introduced.

Behind the cabin can be seen an untidy array of steel cabinets housing relays and batteries for track-circuits and other modern equipment.

Hilton Junction signal boxLooking closer at the box, it is built to the Caledonian Railway Northern Division's first design, which usually comprises a plain brick base surmounted by small-paned windows and a shallow, hipped roof. Several examples of this type survive. An all-timber example of this type is illustrated at Broughty Ferry.

Rather surprisingly, Hilton Junction survived the power signalling scheme implemented at Perth in 1962, and remains in use today. Railtrack have made claims that this is the oldest operational signal box in the United Kingdom. This isn't quite correct. Having opened on 6th August 1873, it is certainly the oldest working signal box in Scotland but the award for the United Kingdom's oldest box goes to Norton South.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated