Stop and think!


Previous competitions have covered a variety of signalling subjects.

Details of the questions and the correct answers will be found below, together with the names of the winners.

Any bright ideas for future quizzes will always be appreciated!



The December quiz, set by John Batts, proved altogether too difficult and no submissions were received.

Below are the answers to the questions posed:

Question Answer
This name was also the name of a display at Boots the Chemists Bath Goods
A welsh signal box. The name means "The country road leading to the ditch filled with water around the castle" Moat Lane
Verbally but not literally palindromic. Box Signal Box
This name was simultaneously carried by two signal boxes on the same signal engineer's district. Oxford Road Juntion

Broken Hill - Caption Competion. Click on image to view full size.The November quiz was a capton competition - entrants were invited to provide a caption for a photograph taken at Broken Hill in Australia.

Click on the image to view the picture full size.

As there were no submissions for the December quiz, two prizes are being awarded for this month out of the large number of excellent entries.

First prize goes to Kit Nairne, for the caption "In Australia, signalmen have to be kept in secure cages on the station premises, for the general safety of the public".

Runner up was Ian Hughes, who suggested the caption "Ah! let's lock the door before that nutter with a camera askes to take photos in the box ".

Some other excellent submissions, too good not to mention came from:

Richard Jones Old lady: you were in a rush this morning- you forgot your packed lunch.Signalman: but mum, I'm 57!
Jonathon Leithead Arrr, streuth!! Does anyone know where that train came from?

Token instruments at Aylesbury SouthThe October quiz (inspired by Chas Tallis) asked the reason for the provision of two identical token instruments at Aylesbury South.

A second instrument circuit, accepting identical configuration tokens, was provided between here and the station platform. This allowed the signalman to withdraw a token for the single line (from Claydon LNE Junction), and then place it in the other instrument to allow the withdrawal of a token at the station platform which would be given to the driver.

The winner for this month was chosen at random from the thirteen correct answers received - and Richard Huss is the lucky chappie.


The September quiz (inspired by Bob Wright) really set the brains whirring, asking for errors in a bogus layout to be identified. To ensure no regional variations affected the results, we consulted a member of Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate who identified eight significant errors, which were:

  1. Signals 1/2/4 should be in rear of 8 points
  2. Signal 4 should not be released by "Line Clear"
  3. Disc 9 should not be yellow.
  4. Points 11 - the two ends of the points do not correspond in position.
  5. Signal 15 is also shown as being "fixed at caution".
  6. Signal 16 should be above the distant arm on the same post.
  7. Signal 18 should not bear a diamond sign.
  8. Directonal arrows of the Down and Up Main lines are wrong.

There were lots of correct enrties received, the first two being from Alan Colquhoun and Simon Lowe, who have both won this quiz before and kindly pass the prize on to Steve Gwinnett who also provided eight correct answers.


Craven Ams Crossing bux undergoing rebuild.This month's quiz showed some interesting views of a mystery signal box undergoing a metamorphosis. The location, approximate date and purpose was asked.

The answers were:
i) Craven Arms Crossing box
ii) The views were taken during July 2000.
iii) The box was undergoing a rebuild, with a new, steel shell being built around the original wooden walls of the box.

The winner of this quiz was Richard Jones.

Many thanks to Simon Matthews for the photographs, which will hopefully appear in a Branch Lines article shortly.


Three questions about the Warning Arrangement were asked this month. The correct answers were:
i) Midland Railway signalmen talked of "taking trains under the hammer" because their subsidiary arms had a hammer-shaped end to them,
ii) Under the 1960 regulations, a driver of an unfitted freight train was required to stop his train at the distant signal, to satisfy himself of his train's ability to stop.
iii) Under present day regulations, a driver receives no intimation that his train has been accepted under the warning Arrangement. Please don't ask me why!

This combination of questions fooled all but the best, and the first correct answer received came from Andrew Waugh in Australia.


For June, there was a mystery photograph (from Chas Tallis) with a twist. Apart from identifying the location, the purpose of sandwich box-like boxes (inset) on the signal posts had to be explained.

Sirling Middle, and the mysterious sandwich boxesJohn McGrevey bowled in on day one with the correct answers, closely followed by Simon Lowe. Both of these have won before, and have passed their prize on to T Adam who submitted the third correct answer.

And that answer was that the location was Stirling Middle, and the boxes contain the batteries for the signal lighting.


The May competition required the identification of the odd man out in the following list of signalboxes - Onebury, Two Mile Bottom, Three Bridges, Four Ashes, Five Ways, Six Bells Colliery, Seven Kings East Junction, Little Weighton, Nine Mile Point No2, Tenbury Wells East.

The correct answer was Onebury as it is the only signal box name that never existed.

The first correct answer came from Phil Weaver.


In April, the quiz required identification of four parts of a Tyers tablet instrument.

The solutions were:
1. Section indicators
2. Bell and commutator
3. Handle to withdraw tablet
4. Tablet store

The first correct answer came from Derek Wild, who has won the competition before. he has kindly passed the prize forward to the runner-up, Anthony Denatale.

Two correspondents wrote and kindly corrected item three - the handle actually places the tablet in the drawer for withdrawal rather than physically operating the slide.


For March, two questions were asked about Trowse Swing Bridge at Norwich. The first of a large number of correct answers came from Andrea Norman.

The solutions were:
1. The red flag is to indicate to river traffic that it must stop as the bridge is about to be opened.
2. The signalman needed to be able to row a boat to get between the bridge and dry land. This was normally only necessary at Christmas when the bridge would be left open to river traffic whilst the box was closed.


A choice of three captions was offered for each of three signals illustrated. All of the options might have sounded ridiculous, but the correct answers were:
The Furness Railway signal with the spectacle lower down the post was not an unusual feature in early signalling - answer Lots like that,
The Upper Quadrant signal with an X on the arm denoted it was not in use - answer ignored by drivers, and
The two distant arms on the Caledonian Railway signal were co-acting arms - answer driver might not be able to see both.
The first of a huge number of correct entries came from Nicolas Roberts.


The January quiz was another "identify the location" - and many correct answers were received. David Clegg was the first to correctly identify the view as being of North Walsham.