Taff Vale Railway


Opened: c1897

Closed: 1984

Location code: W81/01

Gyfeillon Upper signal boxJust north of Pontypridd, deep in the Welsh Valleys stood Gyfeillon Upper box. This was built to replace an earlier box, which in turn had been built in 1880 to replace the quaintly named Gyfeillon Treble Line Junction.

Most of the independent (of the GWR) companies used McKenzie & Holland as their sole contractor for signalling equipment, but the Taff Vale was obviously one of the more affluent as they completed their signalling in a most comprehensive manner at quite an early date. Perhaps in an attempt to establish a clear identity from the other companies that were erecting standard McKenzie & Holland boxes, the Taff Vale seem to have specified a few variations from the ordinary design. Ornate barge boards were the order of the day, and from 1895 (as seen here) large-paned window sections were introduced. Many boxes of this type were built with brick bases (see Llandaff Loop Junction) but that would not have been practical here owing to the steeply falling embankment. It is likely that the brickwork at the very bottom is a more recent modification to combat rot of the timber.

Many signalmen would be envious of the panoramic view of the valley.

In front of the box is the post of a gate protecting a private siding in which the end of something that is now history can be seen - the then ubiquitous 16-ton mineral wagon. Come to that, the box is now history, too.

Interior of Gyfeillon Upper box Inside Gyfeillon Upper box could be found the standard pattern frame of McKenzie & Holland, although this one, of 33 levers at 5" spacing is possibly not the original one, which was 21 levers in size. However, such a late installation of such a frame, with Cam and Shaft locking, would suggest it may have been transferred from a redundant box elsewhere on the system. More recently, the locking was converted to the conventional tappet type.

The red box at the far end of the block shelf is a substitute for an additional lever, releasing an intermediate ground frame serving Tymawr Siding. This was nearby the site of Gyfeillon Lower starter, but was in those days released by an Annett's Key from Rhondda Cutting box.

Mounted centrally on the block shelf above the levers are two block instruments (of the GWR's 1947 pattern) and between them (with a red front) is the closing switch.

The diagram of the layout is uncoloured, because the Western Region policy was to manually correct the original copy, which was drawn on stout cartridge paper in Indian ink, at the Drawing Office at Reading. Whilst it was away, a temporary uncoloured dye-line print would be issued in its place. These were not suitable for permanent use as dye-line prints fade if continually exposed to strong light. Drawing offices in other parts of the country found this out the hard way!

The floor is well polished, as would usually be the case at less highly-trafficked boxes.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated