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.



LedbutyRichard Putley supplied a delightful Christmas scene for the December competition, and two questions were asked:

  • Where is it?
  • What rare type of block instrument is in use here?

M A Crane was the first to submit a correct entry - the location being Ledbury and the type of instrument being GWR Single Line Lock & Block


Cannon StreetCaption competitions are always fun, and this photograph of Cannon Street box was no exception. Of the many entries received, two joint winners emerged - joint because their entries were remarkably similar. Alan Johnston came up with Very funny, mate - now where's my bit of the blockshelf whilst Stuart Johnson offered And I tell you the block shelf was all there when I booked off last night- so who's had it?.

One or two other entries are too good to just get lost in the mists of time, so commiserations to the runners up:
Mike Quinlan: So if I push this one, your arms will re-appear.
Danny Scroggins: No matter how many times you say there are six managers behind me, I'm not going to be fooled into 'looking behind me' again!
Robert Davey: I wish the photographer would hurry up. The bat under my nose is trying to roost in my mouth


The October quiz asked some rather complicated questions about the mode of operation of Great Eastern one-wire, two-position block instruments, but this did not prevent a good response.

The correct set of answers were:

  • To accept a train: Answer the Call Attention on the black (lower) plunger, swing the main flap across to the left and acknowledge the Is Line Clear? on the white (right) plunger.
  • On receiving Train Entering Section: Swing the flap from left to right, leaving the small flap in the left-hand position, and acknowledge the Train Entering Section on the red (left) plunger.
  • To give Train Out Of Section: Call Attention on the Black (lower) plunger and, when acknowledged, send Train Out Of Section on the black (lower) plunger, and swing the small flap to the right.

Paul Fox's entry was the first to be pulled from the hat with the correct answer, and is awarded this month's proze.

Signal box No1
Signal box No2

The same four photographs appeared in the September quiz. Their identity was revealed, and you needed to identify which of the four was the "odd man out".

The four boxes were:

  1. Yaxham, disused, and now on a preserved line.
  2. Cuxton, still operational
  3. Royal Albert Bridge, closed but retained for non-operational use
  4. Allscott Sugar Sidings, closed and probably now demolished.

The correct answer to this question was Cuxton as this is the only signal box that is still operational on Network Rail.

From a wide range of responses (many of which were probably correct but not the answer sought), just four correct answers were received. From those, the most complete and accurate came from Robert Grey wo is therefore selected as the winner.

Signal box No3
Signal box No4

This month was a question of architecture. Identity of the original railway company's origin was needed four four signal boxes. The correct answers are as follows:

  1. Great Eastern Railway
  2. South Eastern Railway
  3. Great Western Railway
  4. London & North Western Railway

John Saville was amongst those that submitted the answers correctly and has been selected as this month's winner.

JULY 2004

Private pewThe questions must be getting too hard! There were no winners this month for identifying the signal box-like structure pictured.

It is not a railway building at all, of course, and most entries correctly identified the environment as a church. But no, the structure is NOT a confessional box or gentlemans urinal (as most suggested) but a private pew for the gentry so that they can choose (by opening the windows) whether to listen to the sermon or snooze!

The photograph was taken in Rostock, Germany.

JUNE 2004

A tricky question this month, suggested by Janet Cottrell - you were asked In what circumstance might a signalman receive a train signalled as 3-1 but signal it forward as 3-1-2 (or vice versa), without any change of traction.

The correct answer was at the boundary between the former Southern Region and elsewhere, as the Southern do not use the 3-1-2 bell signal. Bollo Lane Junction is an example where this happens.

Gillan Meek was one of the few people to submit the correct answer, and has been chosen as this month's winner.

MAY 2004

SelbyThe May quiz asked the identity of a mystery location of a photograph by Thomas O'Flaherty illustrating some motor-operated detonator placing machines, a rare commodity these days.

The location is Selby and the detonator machines have been retained as protection for the swing bridge.

The first of many correct entries received came from David Ingham.

APRIL 2004

Andy Hides was the selected winner from the entries this month, correctly unravelling the anagrams of signal box names:

HOT RAIL BALL Blair Atholl
SLOW CHOOSE IN RUGS    Low House Crossing
GO ROB SINGER Bognor Regis
MEN WARM PANE Penmaenmawr

Old signal post at Plumpton JunctionFor March, it was "guess the date of the signal" time - an old signal post at Plumpton Junction on the former Furness Railway was the subject.

Eight people came up with the correct answer, but only one can be declared the winner and Richard Barrow was the name that was drawn out of the hat.

The signal was erected in 1880, as evidenced by the engraving of the date in the wood. A view of this can be seen by clicking on the image on the right.

The signal post was certainly still in situ some twenty years after the closure of the line, and may well still be there.

Richard - please make contact as the email address you gave seems invalid.


Oxshott signal box under demolitionCaption competions are always a popular subject, and this month was no exception. There were so many good entries that it was very difficult to pick one as the winner. But, finally, "the panel" decided that Jim Banning should take the prize for his entry Was it just the Nameboard you wanted?

Many other entries were excellent, too, and it would be unfair to not mention the three runners-up, who offered:

  • And next time you hold my train it´ll be your house! (Nicholas Roberts)
  • What do you mean there's one more on the down? (Pete Colton)
  • I bloody hate tracing intermittent faults! (Tim Lockley)

Click on the image for a larger view


The January quiz asked about two boxes in the Peak District - Great Rocks Junction and Earles Sidings have a common feature. You had to identify what and why.

Both boxes have had new flat roofs fitted. My own records show that both boxes suffered gale damage, but as the majority of responses suggest fire damage I may be wrong. So we'll stick to the first part of the question and award the prize to Martin Haigh.

Martin - please make contact for your prize as the email address you gave bounces