THE SIGNAL BOX

OVERSEAS

BELFAST NORTH
Great Northern Railway of Ireland

by John Hinson

Belfast North signal cabin
Photograph 24/6/60, from collection of Dr. J W F Scrimgeour

Belfast North box controlled the six-platform terminus in that city named Great Victoria Street.

The box epitomises the typical Great Northern Railway of Ireland signal box. The gabled roof, decorated barge-boards and extensive glazed area are typical, making them not unlike the English Great Northern Railway structures. However, most of this Irish company's boxes had brick bases.

Inside Belfast North box
Photograph 24/6/60, from collection of Dr. J W F Scrimgeour

Inside the box we find an interesting range of equipment. Above the 90-lever frame (which was manufactured by the Railway Signal Company) two interesting block instruments can be seen. To the left is a Tyer's One-Wire Three-Position instrument signalling trains on the Passenger Line to Belfast Central Junction. The right-hand instrument is a Tyer's Tell-Tale Permissive instrument for the Goods Lines, which records the number of trains in the section at any time.

Either side of the Passenger Line block are indicators showing the occupation of important sections of line, as follows:

RED
INDICATES
No1 PLATFORM
OCCUPIED
 

RED
INDICATES
No2 PLATFORM
OCCUPIED
 

RED
INDICATES
No3 PLATFORM
OCCUPIED
 

  RED
INDICATES
CENTRAL JUNC
OCCUPIED
 

RED
INDICATES
No4 PLATFORM
OCCUPIED
 

RED
INDICATES
No5 PLATFORM
OCCUPIED
 

These indicators were apparently conversions from old Tyer's Train Waiting Indicators which would have been activated by Fireman's Call Plungers. The other similar-sized instruments to the right are signal repeaters.

View from station towards Belfast North box
Photograph 1965, from collection of Dr J W F Scrimgeour

A view from the platforms of Great Victoria Street station looking towards Belfast North box, visible just beyond the water tower.

And (below) a view looking past the signalbox towards the station. The water tower would have significantly restricted the view from the box of the station area; no doubt this had some bearing on the provision of the track-circuits here.



View past Belfast North box towards the station
Photograph 1965, from collection of Dr. J W F Scrimgeour


Signals at Belfast North
Photograph 1965, from collection of Dr J W F Scrimgeour

This impressive bracket signal admitted trains into Platforms 1, 2 and 3 at Great Victoria Street. Notice that the calling on arms show a white light when "on" and no glass is provided in the spectacle. The arms on the left-hand doll are significantly dirtier than the others, no doubt steam locomotives often stood immediately below it awaiting their next duty.

In 1962, the frame was renewed using parts recovered from Cookstown and Hillsborough, totalling 60 (or possibly 66) levers. By this time, Platform 5 had been taken over by Ulster Transport Authority buses. A feature of the 1962 arrangements here was the use of a banner signal as the starting signal from Platform 3.

Belfast North box and Great Victoria Street station was closed in April 1976 and the entire area cleared for a road scheme that came to nothing. The present Great Victoria Street station, which opened in September 1995, is located slightly south of the original station, and is controlled from Belfast Central..

Additional notes by Edmund Calvert-Harrison, Dr. J W F Scrimgeour, Edmund Calvert-Harrison and Tony Gray

About the photographs



Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson