PHOTO GALLERY: NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE RAILWAY
OPENED: c1890 CLOSED: 2002
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Although Mow Cop was a minor station, there were at one time two boxes here, but little is known about the other one which was named Mow Cop Sidings. It wasn’t uncommon to find two signal boxes at North Staffordshire Railway stations that had level crossings as the goods yard was usually at the opposite end of the station to the crossing.
This small and insignificant cabin lasted into the 21st century on the electrified route between Kidsgrove and Macclesfield. The box is to the North Staffordshire Railway’s second standard design, introduced in 1885, which always had brick bases and are readily identified by the locking-room windows always being positioned immediately below the wooden section. They were, effectively, a simplified version of the design seen at Stallington, without the elegant barge-boards and attractive locking-room windows.
This view of the opposite end of the signal box shows the wooden level crossing gates in use at that time.
Inside the box there was little room for furniture, and the statutory but unofficial armchair has been positioned in front of some disused levers in the middle of the 14-lever frame.
This McKenzie & Holland frame is of extremely old design, featuring levers that do not stand vertically in the normal position and a diamond shaped pattern cast into the quadrants of the levers. The frame almost certainly pre-dates the box, having been brought here from elsewhere, and probably dates from the late 1860s or very early 1870s. The levers still wear their original round brass McK&H number plates.
The signalman is believed to be Ernie Harlow, who moved here from Rushton when that box closed in 1963 and remained here through to retirement. He demonstrates well the days when signalmen came to work smartly dressed, with tie and polished shoes.
The wooden level crossing gates are worked by the “ship’s wheel” behind the him. The wheel and gates were interlocked with the signals through the brown-coloured levers, one of which Mr Harlow has his hand on.
In an act of great dexterity, his other hand is operating the Train Describer to Macclesfield box; the entire area of control of this box being by the Track Circuit Block system.
The lever frame was ignominiously replaced by two switches built into the instrument shelf in 1981, which adopted the same numbers as the levers that worked the two signals.
Other equipment in this view is closed-circuit television monitoring of a nearby level crossing, a telephone concentrator and a very modern piece of equipment – a microwave oven!
Mow Cop signal box closed around a month after this photograph was taken, with control of the level crossings transferred to Stoke power box.