Taff Vale Railway


Opened: c1912

Closed: 1981

Location code: W81/06

Rhondda Fach Junction South signal boxRhondda Fach Junction South was located at the south end of Porth station, found in the Cardiff Valleys. It represents the brick equivalent of Gyfeillon Upper - being to the Taff Vale's customised version of the McKenzie & Holland box design. Significant differences to McK&H's design are the larger panes of glass in the windows and the unusually fancy barge-boards. Earlier brick boxes featured a panelled arrangement - an example can be seen at Llandaff Loop Junction. A tall version of this design is illustrated at Walnut Tree Junction.

Below the standard Great Western/British Railways (Western Region) cast nameplate can be seen the outline of the original Taff Vale Railway wooden nameboard.

In the doorway of the box stands signalman Ivor Blewitt, whilst on the landing is shunter, lampman and general odd-jobman Edgar Huggins. More information on these two gentlemen can be found on the Signalling People page.

Inside Rhondda Fach Junction South box Although externally the box did not appear to be particularly large, the Taff Vale managed to shoe-horn a 75-lever frame in, although this was helped by the levers being spaced at four inch intervals rather than the five inches found on earlier McKenzie & Holland frames.

The relatively empty block shelf houses two absolute block instruments, a few signal lamp repeaters and an emergency paraffin "Tilley" lamp.

And looking the other way . . .This view emphasises the design of McKenzie & Holland's frames, where the levers stood vertically in the frame when in the normal position. Working levers arranged like this took a little getting used to, but did allow a good swing being given without actually stepping on the frame.

The frame is of McK&H's "No.13A" design, with cam and tappet locking - not that you would be able to tell this from operating floor level!

Rhondda Fach Junction South box closed in March 1981, being replaced by a ground-level hut containing 16 levers named Porth. This cabin closed in 1998 and the area is now controlled from a small panel box at Radyr. Although the structure of this later box was nothing to look at, it was able to claim to be the last mechanical signal box built.

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All photographs copyright © John Hinson unless otherwise stated