PHOTO GALLERY: NORTH LONDON RAILWAY
OPENED: 1891 CLOSED: 2011
Click or tap the images for enlarged views
Western Junction box was located on one corner of the triangular junction at Dalston, formed where the North London Railway’s lines from Broad Street, Kentish Town and Poplar converged. Before 1909, very few signal boxes on the four-track sections controlled all four lines, but this was one that did.
The signal box is of the North London’s own design, introduced from 1890 to replace the hipped roof designs such as like that described at Dunloe Street (although there seems to have been some overlap). The large locking-room windows are actually detachable, and could be removed to easily access the underfloor equipment. The feature of the operating floor being slightly wider than the base is un-typical and was probably just a way of dealing with space constraints here.
This example was provided with window sections divided only by three horizontal bars, a feature that became more universally used after 1895. One with the more common glazing arrangement is illustrated at Acton Central on the North & South Western Junction Railway.
The walls are, unusually, timbered both inside and out, giving improved insulation although there were disadvantages, as I can personally relate. A rat once got itself between the two skins, and proceeded to die there. As a Relief Signalman I was called out to urgently re-open the signal box one day, but was not told that the previous signalman had closed the box because the stench of the dying rat was intolerable. Eventually the “rat-man” (they have nicer names these days) arrived, and declared that he could do nothing about it without dismantling the box! He did, however, leave some Rodent Deodorant which did something to control the smell for the week or so it took for the animal to fully decompose. I think all it actually did was over-power one strong smell with another!
Your scribe is seen here inside the box, sending Train Entering Section for the “Up Motor” to Broad Street No.2 which is approaching on the No.2 Up line. All running signals were colour-lights by this date and the levers over in the frame are 10 (No.2 Up Canonbury IB Home) and 9 (No.2 Up Home) and 8 Up Dalston Junction IB Home). Once lever 10 is replaced, it will be possible to send Train out of section to Camden Road Junction before the train has passed the box and without seeing the tail lamp (locally authorised because the block section is fully track-circuited). With such a range of Intermediate Block signals, both in rear and in advance, the straightforward methods described in the Block System pages are hardly comparable!
The lever frame was manufactured by the North London Railway themselves at Bow Works, with stirrup handles as found on London & North Western Railway frames (one of those is illustrated at Widnes No.7). It is interesting that the NLR adopted stirrup-operated catch-handles before the L&NWR took parental control over the North London in 1909.
The block instruments are the standard British Railways modular bakelite instruments – early examples which were installed along the length of the former North London in the late fifties to replace the original Pryce & Ferreira instruments that had been in use.
A mixture of expansion and rationalisation caused the layout at this signal box to change dramatically in later years.
So much is different in this view when you study it. Only a single block instrument remains (to Camden Road Junction) – the Broad Street line has closed and a computer screen acts as a train describer for the Poplar line between here and Stratford power box.
The Poplar line (lower left on the diagram) hadn’t served Poplar for many years but freight traffic bound for East London and East Anglian destinations had continued to use the route as far as Victoria Park Junction. More recently, it was upgraded for passenger services to serve North Woolwich; this was subsequently electrified.
The “main” line to Broad Street closed in 1986 and has been removed in the above view, but was replaced by a new “Graham Road Curve” linking to the former Great Eastern network at Hackney, providing a means for peak hour Watford passenger services to reach the city.
Later in 1987 a small NX (eNtrance-eXit) panel replaced the frame and the box, oddly, adopted the name Dalston Junction from its former neighbour although the name-plates on the signal box were never changed.
Downstairs in the former locking room, a duplicate diagram was provided to help the technicians during maintenance.
The signal box closed on 4th January 2011, and control of the area was taken over by Upminster.
View a track layout diagram for Western Junction at 1973