Museums & Pubs

Museums and Pubs with Signalling Equipment

There are a lot of places where signalling equipment can be seen other than at the lineside. Here is a list of museums and pubs in Britain where signalling equipment can be seen. Links are given to their web sites where known.

This list does not include private collections unless visible from public locations.

Buckinghamshire

Aylesbury

There are some signals alongside the new(ish) Stokclake link road as a nod to the road being built on the alignment of the old Cheddington to Aylesbury branch.

Bekonskot Model Railway, Beaconsfield

Not a museum as such, but the model railway which runs throughout this open air site is fully signalled and track circuited. It is controlled from what is called “Maryloo” signal box. Although not open to the public there is a clear view of the Westinghouse “L” miniature lever frame that once graced Purley box (together with an ex-London Transport “N” frame not currently in use) and illuminated Southern Region-style diagram . Much of the signalling works automatically when staff are not available. The model village itself is long established and although primarily for toddlers and young children, adults are kept amused by the puns and the detail that is incorporated everywhere.

Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, Quainton Road

A small museum display includes and extensive range of rule books, and a small selection of signalling equipment, including a pair of telegraph instruments from the Brill Tramway, a block bell from Northolt Junction West and a Metropolitan Railway block bell.

 

Cheshire

Crewe Heritage Centre, Crewe

Crewe North Junction signal box, with 214 lever Westinghouse power frames. Demonstrations available. Relay room also accessible, and ground floor contains signalling displays and “hands on” exhibits.

Crewe Station “A” signal box, containing L&NWR power frame

Exeter West signal box, with 131 lever frame. Open on selected weekends with simulated operation. Owned and managed by the Exeter West Group.

The Rising Sun PH, Wistaston Green

Located on the A530 between Crewe and Nantwich, Cheshire, there is just one signalling item to be seen here. A lower quadrant stop signal will be found in the garden by the main road. When installed, around 1989, it was fitted with a modern electric motor, operated from the pub. Using this the licensee would pull the signal off when open and return it to ‘on’ at closing time. It hasn’t been seen in operation recently.

 

Conwy

Conwy Valley Railway Museum, Bettws-y-Coed

Contains an American Union Switch & Signal Co. Miniature Staff instrument, and two signal box diagrams – Menai Bridge and Severn Bridge Junction, Shrewsbury.

 

Cumbria

Dent Village Museum & Heritage Centre

Included amongst other equipment an upper quadrant signal mounted on a Midland Railway wooden post which presumably comes from the Settle & Carlisle line.

Ribblehead Station

The Visitor Centre shop has signal box diagrams for Ribblehead and Blea Moor on display.

 

Derbyshire

Derby Industrial Museum

Includes a small Midland Railway signal box made up from various sources, with the lever frame from Gorsey Bank level crossing. Several box diagrams are displayed, too.

 

Devon

Instow signal box

The preserved signal box at Instow, North Devon, is regularly opened to the public. Opening hours are detailed at their web site.

 

Dumfries & Galloway

Devil’s Porridge Museum, Eastriggs

Includes the final diagram from Quininshill box and railway and military items relevant to the Quintinshill accident.

 

Durham

North of England Open Air Museum, Beamish

In and amongst the other buildings of a town street, colliery village, farm and manor, a representative NER station has been constructed. An actor mans the signalbox and describes to visitors the principles of interlocking and pulls levers to operate those signals close to the box. He gives demonstrations of the block system and is available to answer other visitors’ questions. The signalbox is a replica of Carr House East, and contains the original frame from that box, although it is not actually interlocked. For those interested in industrial heritage generally, one day is insufficient to investigate the whole museum site.

 

Essex

East Anglian Railway Museum, Chappel & Wakes Colne

This Essex location (previously known as the Stour Valley Railway) has three signalboxes on site – the original cabin remains on the platform and is non-operational, allowing visitors to look around and pull levers – explanatory information is provided. On the museum’s track, Chappel North (from Mistley) is manned on operating days, but Chappel South (ex-Fotherby, Lincs.) is generally worked as a shunting frame but is sometimes manned to demonstrate the use of bells and train staffs.

Mangapps Railway Museum, Burnham-on-Crouch

Contains possibly the largest collection of signalling instruments on public display. An entire carriage is devoted to the display of block instruments from all parts of the country, many of which are connected and operational. A lever frame from Southminster box is on display, along with the signalling diagram from Liverpool Street East when the box closed in 1949. Signal boxes from Berney Arms and Haddiscoe Junction also exist here.

 

Gloucestershire

GWR Museum, Coleford

Situated in part of the former goods yard (the remainder of the station site being a small shopping centre and free car park, so it’s easy to find), the museum preserves the Goods shed full of railwayana particularly related to the railways of the Forest of Dean. Emphasis is very much on signalling equipment- the owner is a former local S&T lineman. Cogload signalbox has pride of place outside the Good’s Shed but renamed Coleford and having the frame from Shelwick Junction. The locking is appropriate to the box diagram and the visitor encouraged to operate the box, the owner giving instruction to, or reminiscing with, the visitor as appropriate. An enthusiast keen to demonstrate his collection with others who appreciate it.

Winchcombe Railway Museum

Garden containing railway relics, in particular cast notices and signalling equipment, but with some covered accommodation for indoor exhibits. Very little is in glass cases- the visitor is encouraged to operate everything. Most of the signals operate from various ground frames dotted around the garden. Block bells and block instruments of various types are wired in pairs, so it could be noisy if busy. A LMR frame (Midland rocker, catch handle locking) in simulated signalbox- the locking can be seen operating as you pull the levers. An enthusiasts collection for other enthusiasts; most equipment is labelled with its origin, but no attempt to explain to the layman.

This museum is not connected with, or near to, the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire heritage line.

 

Greater London

Coopers pub, Euston

Coopers run a number of pubs at railway stations, although few contain railwayana. The branch just outside Euston station is liberally littered with railwayana, including signal box diagrams, nameboards and signal repeaters

The Flag & Whistle pub, Lambeth Road

A few genuine signalling items, with some nice contemporary railway photographs including signal box interiors, telegraph instruments and track diagrams

The Parcel Yard, Kings Cross

Pub-cum-restaurant inside Kings Cross station liberally bedecked with railwayana, including a small amount of signalling equipment

Science Museum, London

In early 1999, the transport gallery, the former home of Haddiscoe Junction signal box was found to be closed to the public for major refurbishment, and appears as though it will remain so for some considerable time. The only signalling items now on display consist of the following in a display case in the telephone section.

  1. a Cooke & Wheatstone 5 needle telegraph instrument dating from 1837
  2. a Cooke & Wheatstone (Electric Telegraph Company manufactured) single needle telegraph instrument dating from 1846
  3. a Cooke & Wheatstone (W.Reid Mechanist manufactured) 2 needle telegraph instrument dating from 1842

Haddiscoe Junction signal box has now been sold to Mangapps Railway Museum (see above) but it is believed that the McKenzie & Holland frame has been retained by the Science Museum.

Can anybody update this information?

Tower Bridge, London

This was once a signalling installation, but not railway signalling. The Saxby & Farmer lever frame operated hydraulically and controlled river signals and possibly also semaphore road signals in early days. The equipment room is just part of the visitor area; these days the bridge is electrically operated from an electrical control centre.

Please see the Branch Lines pages for photographs and a description of the equipment

Traveller’s Rest, Kenton

Full of railwayana, including signals. All are fakes.

 

Greater Manchester

A635, Ashton-under-Lyne

Not a museum as such (nor a pub or restaurant!) but there is a nice Midland Railway lower quadrant combined home and distant signal alongside the eastbound carriageway of the A628 at Ashton-under-Lyne. As it has been carefully positioned to be in full view of motorists, we’ll class it as on public view!

This is one occasion where you will be allowed to pass a signal at danger!

Station Buffet Bar, Stalybridge

The station buffet, which dates back to the 1880’s, contains some memorabilia, including a Midland Railway distant arm, an LMS disc signal and a box nameboard from Aldam Junction.

Gwynneth

Narrow Gauge Railway Museum, Towyn

Contains a quantity of interesting signalling equipment, including:

  • Saxby & Farmer Rocker frame from Church Crossing, Chattenden & Upnor Railway
  • 2-lever ground frame from crossing keeper’s cabin on County Donegal Railway
  • Signals from Manx Northern Railway, with counterbalance levers and windlass for operation
  • County Donegal Railway signal from Stranorlar
  • Unusual signal from Chattendon & Upnor Railway
  • Ex-Metropolitan Railway arms as subsequently used by Chattendon & Upnor Railway
  • Chattendon & Upnor Railway mechanical point indicator
  • Level crossing signal from Durnpike, Penrhyn Quarry Railway
  • Festiniog Railway rotating disc signal
  • Somersault signal from an East Midlands ironstone line
  • Collection of staffs, from Chattenden & Upnor Railway, North Wales NGR (Wise’s Patent Staff), Londonderry & Lough Swilly Railway, Welsh Highland Railway, Corris Railway etc.
  • Electric Train Staff, Token and Tablet instruments
  • Train staff tickets from the Isle of Man
  • Train Staff & Ticket box from West Carbery Tramways & Light Railway Co.
  • Various wooden cased signal and lamp repeaters.

Hampshire

Brading Railway Heritage Centre

The original Brading signal box is part of the visitor centre and is sometimes open to the public, with a simulator-controlled system to represent the signalling operations.

Isle of Wight Steam Railway Museum, Haven Street

Exhibits include signalling equipment and a signal box diagram for Ryde St Johns Road box.

Romsey signal box

Romsey signalbox, now relocated and restored within the grounds of a school.

 

Hertfordshire

St Albans South signal box

The St Albans Signal Box Preservation Trust has been setup by volunteers to restore and preserve the signal box as part of our railway and architectural heritage before the ravages of time takes its toll.

 

Kent

The Old Station, Tunbridge Wells West

A Beefeater pub built into the old ticket office and buildings. Contains the usual real and simulated “Collectors Corner” relics.

Is this still there?

 

Leicestershire

The Pullman P.H., Widmerpool

Restored Station on the Midlands Test Centre line. Viewing platform nearby to watch the Pendelino flash by!

Station Museum, Loughborough

The Museum on platform one at the preserved Great Central Railway station has various bits and pieces of signalling equipment, including a lever frame and also an original diagram from a GC box in the area (toward Nottingham), together with some block instruments.

Midlothian

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

This Essex location (previously known as the Stour Valley Railway) has three signalboxes on site – the original cabin remains on the platform and is non-operational, allowing visitors to look around and pull levers – explanatory information is provided. On the museum’s track, Chappel North (from Mistley) is manned on operating days, but Chappel South (ex-Fotherby, Lincs.) is generally worked as a shunting frame but is sometimes manned to demonstrate the use of bells and train staffs.

 

Norfolk

Mid-Norfolk Railway, Dereham

Some signalling equipment is on display in the entrance hall at Dereham station, together with some items in the small relics museum which are mostly scheduled to be restored to operational condition as and when the line is resignalled. Two tablet instruments are on display in the entrance hall – a Tyer’s No.6 from Pampisford and an older type of unknown origin. An enamel GER nameboard from Trowse Lower can be seen, together with a rare Metropolitan Railway ground signal which is rather far from home.

North Norfolk Railway, Sheringham

Some signalling equipment is on display in Sheringham buffet. Weybourne station features working GNR somersault signals. Sheringham East ‘box (M&GN structure) is displayed on the station platform and is not an operational cabin.

 

Northamptonshire

Rushden Historical Transport Society, Rushden

This museum covers various types of transport, and includes some items of signalling equipment.

 

Northumberland

Heritage Centre, Bellingham

The heritage centre (based at the old station) includes a comprehensive display about the stations on that line, including some signalling items such as tickets from Staff & Ticket working, Tablet pouches and a NBR signal. A photographic display includes veiws of most of the signal boxes and a searchable photographic database is available from which pictures may be purchased.

 

North Yorkshire

Flag & Whistle P.H., York

This pub is situated in the City of York, on the road out towards Huntingdon, and located near a closed station. It has a home signal outside, beside the road.

The Head of Steam P.H., Scarborough

A branch of this chain exists in the station buildings at Scarborough. Mostly non-signalling railwayana, apart from some lever badges and a signal box name-board.

National Railway Museum, York

The National Railway Museum in York has a large range of signalling equipment displayed.

  • There is a working Highland lever frame in Magician’s Road (the children’s interactive learning centre).
  • Borough Market Jn. SB occupies a brick plinth in the South Yard. Visitors can look inside by prior arrangement, or by contacting the Information Point or Explainer Staff during a visit. If someone is free to take you in “on spec” they will gladly do so.
  • A gantry of GW lower quadrants graces the Great Hall. This is actually the (West) Ruislip Up Outer Advanced Starter gantry, although it has been modified to represent Northolt Junction West Up Homes and Down Starters.
  • A small ground frame hut houses a lever frame which releases the roller doors from the exterior rail access, and operates somersault signals reading into the building from the Railtrack sidings.
  • Three push button videos can be watched within viz. a) Night Mail, opening sequence with bell and block messages being exchanged b) A 1950’s training film shot around Reading? & Church Fenton, c) Carstairs resignalling.1970’s.
  • Nearby are two demonstrations of facing points, one worked by lever frame, including “swinging” fouling bars on the switch blades, the second being motor operated by an SGE HB machine.
  • Fully working demonstrations of GW ATC and BR AWS, including on-track plus train-borne bogie and cab equipment can be viewed, and are occasionally demonstrated
  • The former L&Y training model railway layout is now restored and is demonstrated at times – mostly at weekends.

The new Lottery-funded gallery “The Works” opened in 1999 features an external viewing balcony, looking out over the north end of York station. A hot link to York IECC shows operations progressing, and a CCTV camera shows Skelton Junction in real time. A replica mechanical signal box is connected to a computer simulator so that staff can demonstrate block and lever sequences, and two specially-made brass block bells can be operated by visitors. A series of story boards and exhibits from the reserve collection will be built up into a new gallery, which will relate the development of signalling.

Settle Station

The preserved Settle Station signal box is open to the public at certain times. There is also a preserved upper quadrant combined home and distant signal on a Midland Railway wooden post (although the arms are unusually closely-spaced).

The Sidings Restaurant, Shipton-by-Beningborough

Some genuine signalling equipment is on display in this restaurant by the East Coast main line, just north of York.

 

Sussex

Amberley Chalk Pits Museum

The former signal box from Billingshurst is now on display at this museum, although at the time of writing (2020) there is no mention of this on the web site. Apparently there are also some items of signalling equipment on display too.

 

Oxfordshire

Didcot Railway Museum

There are two signal boxes here, from Radstock and Frome. Radstock (representing a GWR box in the 1930s) contains a GWR double-twist frame, gate wheel for the adjoining level crossing, and appropriate bells blocks, indicators and key releases. It is open to the public on specified days, and on certain other days the boxes are actually operated for demonstration purposes.

At the opposite end of the line, Frome Mineral Junction represents a signal box in the early 1870s, with basic equipment including single-needle telegraph and Webb-Thompson staff instrument. The GW Stud frame came from Stoneycombe Sidings and controls a mixture of early signals (including a disc and crossbar, and a slotted post type) through overhead signal wires. There is no easy access to this box, but visits can sometimes be negotiated.

Apart from the boxes, there is a large amount of outdoor signalling equipment to be seen, much of it rare

Hook Norton Village Museum

Hook Norton Brewery has a visitor centre. Hook Norton Brewery Visitor Centre gives access to Hook Norton Brewery Museum. Hook Norton Brewery Museum gives access to Hook Norton Village Museum.

Hook Norton Village Museum contains the H.N. S,B. nameplate, diagram, an ETT instrument containing a H.N. to Bloxham token and assorted S & T hardware.

Pendon Railway Museum, Long Wittenham

A collection of signalling equipment is housed in a mock-up signalbox to demonstrate working practices. Also not to be missed is a fully signalled model railway that forms just part of a massive model country scene of the past. This is in the process of being automated to work with computers making real-time regulating decisions on behalf of absent signalmen.

 

Pembrokeshire

Scolton Manor, near Clarbeston Road

Sarnau signal box exists as part of this folk museum complex.

 

Renfrewshire

Museum of Transport, Glasgow

Amongst the other exhibits, a fair amount of interesting signalling equipment is displayed. To be found are a G&SWR lower quadrant T-bracket signal from Fairlie Pier, a LNER/RSCo ground disc signal, a Glasgow Underground 2-aspect colour light (part of the mock-up underground station), a G&SWR block inscribed “Dumfries South” and a Caledonian instrument (inscribed “Midcalder”). Smaller equipment includes a brass-cased semaphore signal repeater inscribed “Up distant 12”, a Tyer’s wooden-cased semaphore slot repeater inscribed “Slot of Aberdeen North”, and a ‘SYX’ wooden-cased battery operated mercury time switch. Single line equipment consists of a wooden train staff from the Dundee & Newtyle Railway, a brass train staff inscribed “Tay Bridge Train Staff” with clip for holding ticket, a brass train staff inscribed “Ballochney Branch” with key end and a brass train staff inscribed “Drumburgh Junc & Port Carlisle”. Photographs of the last two items appear on page 131 of “LNER Constituent Signalling”.

The Museum was  currently closed at 2010, with the intention of re-opening on a new site in 2011, updated information needed.

 

Ross & Cromarty

RSPB Centre, Forsinard

The RSPB Centre at Forsinard is housed within the station building. Inside, on public view, is the two-lever Dutton frame which controlled the starting signals as per Highland Railway practice.

 

South Yorkshire

The Sidings pub, Doncaster

This is a new pub but built with old materials. located quite near the railway yard to the south of Doncaster station. There are many signalling items inside which appear to be genuine even if some of them are mounted upside down. The collection of wagon and bridge plates are fake but the LNER east coast mile posts are real enough.

 

Staffordshire

Foxfield Railway Museum, Blythe Bridge

This general railway museum includes some items of signalling interest – notably an original Tyers one-wire three-position block instrument of the North Staffordshire Railway, as well some original ‘egg cup’ NSR lever collars.

 

Surrey

Great Cockrow Railway, near Chertsey

All manner of signalling in operation, ranging from full size ex-Midland mechanical locking frame operating semaphores, to Westinghouse L miniature lever frames with 2/3/4 aspect colour lights complete with route indicators and flashing aspects. Signalboxes not officially open to the public, but most can be seen and block bells heard. Good view of all the lineside signalling from the intensive miniature train service, incredible how much railway packed into the available space and the short headways that can be achieved. Open summer Sunday afternoons only, best to arrive early before 14:00 to beat the queues.

Close to M25 J11 but don’t expect it to be signed even once you’ve arrived (planning permission prohibits advertising apparently). Initially dual carriageway towards Woking, right onto A320 past St Peter’s hospital, then left B386 extremely briefly, immediate right up Hardwick Lane. Anonymous entrance on right after few hundred yards after riding stables. If road crosses motorway – you’ve missed it!

 

Tyne & Wear

The Valley Junction 397 Restaurant, Corbridge

This Indian Restaurant is housed in a mock signalbox and an adjacent carriage. Recommended by one of our site users for the cuisine, irrespective of the accommodation!

 

West Yorkshire

The Head of Steam P.H., Huddersfield

In the west wing of Huddersfield station, which was once described as “..a stately home with trains..” There is much railway memorabilia on the walls and it’s all for sale too. There is a bay window which fronts out onto the platform and there are even tables on the platform so you can sit and watch the trains go by and drink a decent pint at the same time.

 

Wiltshire

Steam, Swindon

This rather trendily-named museum is what is known better to many as the GWR Museum in Swindon, and has some exhibits that have little to do with steam power.

Included in the displays are a few early signals, including some of the disc and crossbar type. There are also some model signals on show.

 

Worcestershire

Kidderminster Railway Museum

A large collection of single line instruments, including Webb-Thompson large and small staff instruments (from the UK and Egypt), Tyer’s No.6 and No.7 Tablet instruments and GWR key tokens plus Gangers Occupation Key equipment. Most are operational and can be demonstrated.

Dutton & Co. lever frame from Rogart (Highland Railway) has been re-erected and can be operated by visitors.

Display showing development of telegraph and telephony communication.

Displays of tokens, tablets, staffs, signal arms and finials.

The museum also has a large library, archive and photographic collection, accessible by prior arrangement.


Corrections, amplifications or new locations? Telegraph the Signalman

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