Rio Tinto Railway

by John Hinson

View of stations at Las Mallas
Photograph by Dr. J W F Scrimgeour 9/69

The 3' 6" Rio Tinto Railway ran alongside the broad gauge Madrid, Zaragoza & Alicante line through Las Mallas, and two greater contrasts there could not be. The Madrid, Zaragoza & Alicante station, seen on the right, was an imposing building, and their signal box ornate almost to the point of excess. The Rio Tinto Railway's counterpart was humble by comparison, the building on the left acting as both station and signal box.

Las Mallas [RT] station office and signal box
Photograph by Dr. J W F Scrimgeour 9/69,

Most signal boxes on the Rio Tinto system were proper structures in their own right, so it may be assumed that a full-sized signal box once served their station, but in later years it was housed in the far end of the building seen here. The platform of the station had been substantially shortened after closure to passenger services and the only part retained is necessary to avoid a drop to ground level for users of the station office.

Inside Las Mallas [RT] signal box
Photograph by Dr. J W F Scrimgeour 9/69,

Inside the "signal box" traditional equipment was found. As with most other boxes on the lines of this company, the frame was built by McKenzie & Holland. Trains were signalled by the Railway Signal Company Electric Train Staff instruments on the right, working to the boxes at San Juan del Puerto and Niebla; the latter is the point where the line turns away to the North away from the Madrid, Zaragoza & Alicante line. This type of instrument was provided at all boxes between Huelva and Rio Tinto Mines, although by the time these pictures were taken the staff working had been discontinued and signalling was by "Telephone Block".

About the photographs

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson