PHOTO GALLERY: NORTH LONDON RAILWAY
OPENED: 1872 CLOSED: 1979
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There was once an important triangular junction at Dalston, the line from the main terminus at Broad Street curved left towards Kentish Town and right for Poplar at Dalston Junction station, which had six platforms. The north side of the triangle was primarily for freight traffic from London’s docks, controlled by Eastern and Western Junction signal boxes.
The North London Railway started building its own signal boxes around 1870. Their first design of signal box was hipped-roofed and with curved tops to the windows but there were many variations including many built without the decorative valancing. This design was superseded in the 1880s with more consistent architecture and, specifically, conventional windows comprising two panes vertically and horizontally – see Dunloe Street.
This signal box started life as Dalston Junction No.2, dating from 1872 when the fourth line was added between here and the North London’s city terminus at Broad Street. At that time most North London Railway stations had two boxes, with the No.1 boxes controlling the “No.1” (later known as “steam”) lines and the No.2 boxes controlling the “No.2” (or “electric”) lines. The signalling at most was quite separate, but at Dalston Junction the layout was more complex owing to the presence of the busy junction.
The box originally contained a thirty-five lever frame, but when No.1 box closed around 1909 a new frame of sixty levers was installed – it can be assumed the box was enlarged for the purpose. This lever frame was built at the North London’s Bow works although similar in looks to the London & North Western’s type. A similar frame can be seen at Western Junction.
One interesting claim to fame this signal box had was the tallest signals on the North London Railway, possibly the tallest in the country. The posts were 86′ 6″ high! They were replaced by colour-light signals in 1956.
The box survived through massive rationalisation of the station layout starting with the removal of the Poplar curve in 1966. After the lines to Broad Street were reduced to two in 1970, its sole function was to control connections where the lines spread to four tracks just south of the station. With this layout, the box was only essential to traffic during the peak hours (when Eastern Region suburban services operated to destinations like Potters Bar and Hertford) and was frequently switched out at other times. Finally, with the withdrawal of the Eastern Region services, the box fell out of use and was abolished on 25th February 1979.
The name of “Dalston Junction” was, curiously, adopted by Western Junction box in 1987.