Railway Companies and Contractors

Railway Companies and Contractors

A “Who’s Who” of railway signalling

Here is a list of all British railway companies that are known to have installed mechanical signalling on their lines, together with a guide to the contractor’s designs of box and frame used.

Also included is a standardised list of abbreviations for identifying each company – these abbreviations are used elsewhere on this site.

Dates of absorption by other companies are shown in the right-hand column.

It is emphasised that the reference to designs does not necessarily indicate that the boxes and frames were actually built by the contractor themselves – in some cases they were built to the contractor’s design by the railway company, or even by another contractor if specified by the company.

Many railways built boxes to their own designs, and a few built their own lever frames, this is indicated by the word “own” in the appropriate column.

Finally, below the main table is a list of railway contractors, with abbreviations and absorption dates, laid out in similar style.

Railway companies that were absorbed prior to the provision of signalling are not listed, nor are jointly operated lines unless a distinct signal box policy existed.

Railway Companies

Std. Abbrev Railway Company Signal box designs Frame types What happened?
Abb Abbotsbury RSC RSC Absorbed by GW by 1923
AD Alexandra (Newport & South Wales) Docks & Railway McK&H McK&H Absorbed by GW 1923
All Allsopp’s Own/Mid Mid Not absorbed
Ash Ashington Collieries Own McK&H Not absorbed
B&C Banbury & Cheltenham Direct GWC/RSC GWC/RSC Absorbed by GW 1897
B&E Bristol & Exeter Own/S&F S&F/Poole Absorbed by GW 1876
B&H Bamford & Howden (Derwent Valley Water Board) Own Mid Not absorbed
B&M Brecon & Merthyr McK&H/RSC/S&F McK&H/RSC/S&F Absorbed by GW 1923
B&P Bristol & Portishead Pier & Railway Own nk Absorbed by GW 1884
Bar Barry S&F/EoD S&F/EoD Absorbed by GW 1923
Bass Bass & Co Mid/Own Mid Not absorbed
BGW Beckton Gas Works nk S&F/WBS Not absorbed
BJ Birkenhead Joint (GW/LNW) S&F/Own/LNW S&F/Own/LNW Absorbed by GW/LMS 1923
BM Bicester Military Own WBS Not absorbed
BNS Bristol & North Somerset McK&H McK&H Absorbed by GW 1884
BPGV Burry Port & Gwendraeth Valley Own Tyer/RSC Absorbed by GW 1923
BR(E) British Railways (Eastern Region) Own WBS/RSC
Bri Bridport Own GWC Absorbed by GW 1901
BS&W Baker Street & Waterloo
(Part of London Electric Railways)
Own Westinghouse Absorbed by LPTB 1933.
Bw Bridgwater Dutton Dutton Absorbed by S&D (date?)
BR(LM) British Railways (London Midland Region) Own Own
BR(NE) British Railways (North Eastern Region) Own McK&H
BR(S) British Railways (Southen Region) Own WBS
BR(Sc) British Railways (Scottish Region) Own S&S
BR(W) British Railways (Western Region) Own GW
BS British Steel Corporation Own nk Not absorbed
BSET Bury St Edmunds & Thetford R&R R&R Absorbed by GE 1878
BTD Bury & Tottington District GWC GWC Absorbed by L&Y1888
BWHA Bideford, Westward Ho! & Appledore Own S&F Not absorbed
Cal Caledonian Own S&S/S&F/RSC Absorbed by LMS 1923
Cam Cambrian McK&H/Dut/Tyer McK&H/Dut Absorbed by GW 1923
C&SL City & South London
(Part of London Electric Railways from 1913)
Own Westinghouse Absorbed by LPTB 1933.
Car Cardiff McK&H McK&H Absorbed by GW 1923
CCE&H Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead
(Part of London Electric Railways)
Own Westinghouse Absorbed by LPTB 1933.
CE Clifton Extension (GW/Mid) McK&H/Mid McK&H/Mid Absorbed by LMS 1923
CKP Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith S&F/Own S&F/Tweedy Absorbed by LMS 1923
CL Central London
(Part of London Electric Railways from 1913)
Own EoD/BPRS Absorbed by LPTB 1933.
CLC Cheshire Lines Commiittee (GC/GN/Mid) S&S/S&F/Own/LMS S&S/Own/LMS Absorbed by BR(LM) 1948
CMil Cairnryan Military Own WBS Not absorbed
CMin Cornwall Minerals Own S&S Absorbed by GW 1877
Corn Cornwall (leased to GW/B&E/SD) Own/S&F/GW S&F/GW Absorbed by GW 1889
Corr Corris Own McK&H Absorbed by GW by 1923
CSL City & South London EoD EoD Absorbed by LE 1923
CVH Colne Valley & Halstead Own S&F Absorbed by LNE 1923
CWJ Cleator & Workington Junction Own Tweedy/S&S/Tyer Absorbed by LMS 1923
DNS Didcot, Newbury & Southampton S&F/GW S&F/GW Absorbed by GW 1923
E&M Eastern & Midlands Own S&F Absorbed by MGN 1893
ECH Easton & Church Hope (GW/LSW) EoD EoD Absorbed by GW 1923
EN East Norfolk Own/McK&H McK&H Absorbed by GE 1881
ERS Evesham, Redditch & Stratford-on-Avon Junction GWC GWC Absorbed by SMJ 1909
EWID East & West India Dock S&F/RSC S&F/RSC Absorbed by PLA 1909
EWJ East & West Junction RSC RSC Absorbed by SMJ 1909
EWY East & West Yorkshire Union RSC RSC Absorbed by LNE 1923
Fest Festiniog McK&H McK&H Not absorbed
FRP Felixstowe Railway & Pier McK&H McK&H Absorbed by GE 1879
Fur Furness Own Var Absorbed by LMS 1923
FYN Freshwater, Yarmouth & Newport Own/RSC RSC Absorbed by SR 1923
GC Great Central RSCo/Own Own Absorbed by LNE 1923
GE Great Eastern Own Various Absorbed by LNE 1923
GN Great Northern Own Various Absorbed by LNE 1923
GN&C Great Northern & City Own RSCo Absorbed by Met 1933.
GNP&B Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton
(Part of London Electric Railways)
Own Westinghouse Absorbed by LPTB 1933.
GNC Great Northern & City Own RSC Absorbed by Met 1913
GNS Great North of Scotland Own/RSC S&S/RSC Absorbed by LNE 1923
GSW Glasgow & South Western Own S&S/Own Absorbed by LMS 1923
GW Great Western S&F/McK&H/Own S&F/McK&H/Own Absorbed by BR(W) 1948
H&B Hull & Barnsley S&F/Own S&F/EoD Absorbed by NE 1922
High Highland McK&H/Dut/Own McK&H/Dut/Own Absorbed by LMS 1923
IC Ind Coope Own/Mid Mid Not absorbed
IOM Isle of Man Dut Dut Not absorbed
IOW Isle of Wight S&F S&F Absorbed by SR 1923
IWC Isle of Wight Central RSC RSC Absorbed by SR 1923
IWNJ Isle of Wight (Newport Junction) nk nk Absorbed by IWC 1887
KE Knott End Own/RSC nk/RSC Absorbed by LMS 1923
L&B Lynton & Barnstaple Own/EoD EoD Absorbed by SR by 1923
L&C Liskeard & Caradon Own nk Absorbed by GW 1909
L&F Lynn & Fakenham Own S&F Absorbed into E&M 1883
L&L Liskeard & Looe S&F S&F Absorbed by GW 1909
L&Y Lancashire & Yorkshire Various Various Absorbed by LMS (by?) 1923
LB Leominster & Bromyard GWC/GW GWC/GW Absorbed by GW by 1923
LBSC London, Brighton & South Coast S&F/Own S&F/Own Absorbed by SR 1923
LC Lambton Collieries Own McK&H/WBS Not absorbed
LCD London, Chatham & Dover S&S/S&F/Own S&S/S&F/Own Absorbed by SEC 1899
LDEC Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast Own S&F/RSC Absorbed by GC 1907
LE London Electric
(Parent company for several separate Underground Railways)
Own BPRS Absorbed by LPTB 1933
Lev Lever Brothers nk nk Not absorbed
LM Longmoor Military Own WBS Not absorbed
LMM Llanelly & Mynydd Mawr EoD EoD Absorbed by GW 1923
LMS London, Midland & Scottish Own Own (S&S on Scottish Div) Absorbed by BR(LM) and BR(Sc) 1948
LNE London & North Eastern Own SA=WBS/RSC
ScA=Own S&S
Absorbed by BR(E), BR(NE) and BR(Sc) 1948
LNW London & North Western S&F/LNW S&F/LNW Absorbed by LMS 1923
LO Liverpool Overhead RSCo S&S/RSCo/McK&H Not absorbed
LPTB London Passenger Transport Board Own WBS Later known as London Transport
LSKD London & St Katharine Dock S&F S&F Absorbed by PLA 1909
LSPJ Liverpool, Southport & Preston Junction RSC RSC Absorbed by L&Y 1897
LSW London & South Western S&F/Own S&F/S&S Absorbed by SR 1923
LTS London, Tilbury & Southend S&S/Eas/RSC S&S/Eas/RSC Absorbed by Mid 1913
M&C Maryport & Carlisle Own S&S/Tyer Absorbed by LMS 1923
M&M Manchester & Milford McK&H/S&F McK&H/S&F Absorbed by GW 1911
Maen Maenchlochog McK&H McK&H Absorbed by NPF 1895
MBM Marple, Bollington & Macclesfield (GC/NS) McK&H/Own McK&H Absorbed by LMS 1923
MD Metropolitan District
(Part of London Electric Railways from 1901)
S&F S&F Absorbed by LPTB 1933
MDHB Mersey Docks & Harbour Board RSC RSC Not absorbed
Mer Mersey Own/RSC RSC Absorbed by BR(LM) 1948
Met Metropolitan S&F/Own S&F/Own Absorbed by LPTB 1933
MGN Midland & Great Northern Joint (GN/Mid) GN/Mid/Own S&F/Mid Absorbed by LNE 1936
Mid Midland Own Own Absorbed by LMS 1923
MN Manx Northern Own S&S Not absorbed
Mon Monmouthshire Railway & Canal S&F/McK&H S&F/McK&H Absorbed by GW 1875
MSC Manchester Ship Canal Own LMS Not absorbed
MSJA Manchester South Junction & Altrincham (GC/LNW) S&F/RSC/LNW S&F/RSC/LNW Absorbed by LMS 1923
MSL Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Own/McK&H/S&S/RSC Own/McK&H/S&S/RSC Renamed GC c1898
MSW Midland & South Western Junction Dut/LSW Dut/S&S Absorbed by GW 1923
N&B Neath & Brecon McK&H/Dut McK&H/Dut Absorbed by GW 1923
NB North British Own S&S/RSC/S&F Absorbed by LNE 1923
NBJ Northampton & Banbury Junction GWC/S&S GWC/S&S Absorbed by SMJ 1909
NE North Eastern Own ND=S&S
CD=I’Anson/S&S (merged into ND/SD 1899)
Absorbed by LNE 1923
New Newent McK&H McK&H Absorbed by GW by 1923
NGSL Newport, Godshill & St Lawrence RSC RSC Absorbed by IWC 1913
NL North London McK&H/Own Various/Own Absorbed by LNW 1922, although closely linked since
NPF North Pembrokeshire & Fishguard Dut Dut Absorbed by GW 1898
NS North Staffordshire McK&H McK&H Absorbed by LMS 1923
NSW North & South Western Junction (LNW/Mid/NL) As NL As NL Absorbed by LMS 1923
NWNG North Wales Narrow Gauge McK&H McK&H Not absorbed
OI Oxfordshire Ironstone Own McK&H Not absorbed
P&T Pembroke & Tenby McK&H McK&H Absorbed by GW 1896
P&W Portpatrick & Wigtownshire Joint Committee G&SW, Cal G&SW, Cal Absorbed by LMS 1923
PCN Pontypridd, Caerphilly & Newport McK&H McK&H Absorbed by AD 1897
PLA Port of London Authority Own n/k Not absorbed
PT Port Talbot Railway & Docks RSC/McK&H RSC/McK&H (Worked and signalled by GW from 1908)
Absorbed by GW 1923
RHD Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Own Own Not absorbed
Rhy Rhymney McK&H McK&H Absorbed by GW 1923
RKF Rowrah & Kelton Fell Own nk Not absorbed
RNC Ryde, Newport & Cowes nk nk Absorbed by IWC 1887
RP Ryde Pier (LSW/LBSC) LSW S&S Absorbed by SR 1923
RSB Rhondda & Swansea Bay McK&H McK&H Absorbed by GW 1923
S&CLE Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension RSC RSC Absorbed by CLC by 1923
S&D Somerset & Dorset Joint Committee (LSW/Mid) Own S&S Owned by LMS/SR from 1923 Absorbed
by BR(S) 1948
S&H Shrewsbury & Hereford Joint (GW/LNW) S&F/Own/LNW/GW S&F/LNW/GW Absorbed by GW/LMS 1923
S&M Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Own LMS/Tyer Not absorbed
S&U Stafford & Uttoxeter McK&H McK&H Absorbed by GN 1882
S&W Severn & Wye Crum/S&F/McK&H Crum/S&F/McK&H Absorbed by SWJ 1894
S&Wn Shrewsbury & Wellington Joint (GW/LNW) S&F/Own/LNW/GW S&F/LNW/GW Absorbed by GW/LMS 1923
S&Wp Shrewsbury & Welshpool Joint (GW/LNW) S&F/Own/LNW/GW S&F/LNW/GW Absorbed by GW/LMS 1923
SB Severn Bridge GWC/Own GWC/nk Absorbed by SWJ 1894
SCE Swindon & Cheltenham Extension GWC GWC Absorbed by MSW 1884
SD South Devon S&F S&F Absorbed by GW 1876
SE South Eastern S&F/S&S/Own S&F/S&S/Own Absorbed by SEC 1899
SEC South Eastern & Chatham Own Own Absorbed by SR 1923
SHD Seacombe, Hoylake & Deeside RSC RSC Absorbed by Wir 1891
SHT Swansea Harbour Trust McK&H McK&H Absorbed by GW 1923
SM Snowdon Mountain Own S&S Not absorbed
SMA Swindon, Marlborough & Andover GWC GWC Absorbed by MSW 1884
SMJ Stratford-on-Avon & Midland Junction RSC RSC Absorbed by LMS 1923
SML Shropshire & Montgomery Light Own nk Not absorbed
SR Southern Railway Own WBS Absorbed by BR(S) 1948
SSMW South Shields, Marsden & Whitburn Colliery nk RSC Not absorbed
STM Stratford-on-Avon, Towcester & Midland Junction RSC RSC Absorbed by SMJ 1909
SWJ Severn & Wye Joint (GW/Mid) as GW/Mid as GW/Mid Absorbed by GW 1923
SWM South Wales Mineral GW GW (GW responsible for signalling from 1909)
Absorbed by GW 1923
Tan Tanat Valley Tyer Tyer Absorbed by Cam 1921
TC Tyne Commissioners nk McK&H Not absorbed
TV Taff Vale Own/McK&H McK&H Absorbed by GW 1923
W&C Whitland & Cardigan McK&H McK&H Absorbed by GW 1890
W&H Worcester & Hereford Own nk Absorbed by WM 1860
W&L Welshpool & Llanfair Light Tyer Tyer Absorbed by GW 1923
W&P Weymouth & Portland (GW/LSW) GW GW Absorbed by GW 1923
W&R Worthington & Robinson Own/Mid Mid Not absorbed
WCE Whitehaven, Cleator & Egremont Joint (Fur/LNW) S&S S&S Absorbed by LNW 1877, then LNW/Fur Joint
Wir Wirral RSC RSC Absorbed by LMS 1923
WL West Lancashire McK&H/RSC McK&H/RSC Absorbed by L&Y 1897
WM West Midland none (other than inherited from W&H) none (other than inherited from W&H) Absorbed by GW 1863
WMCQ Wrexham, Mold & Connahs Quay McK&H/RSCo/Dut McK&H/RSCo/Dut Absorbed by GC 1904
WP Wemyss Private Own S&S Not absorbed
YNN Yarmouth & North Norfolk Own S&F Absorbed by E&M 1883

Signalling Contractors

Std Abbrev Name Headquarters What happened?
Atk F A Atkinson Absorbed by McK&H 1909
Baines William Baines & Co Smethwick
Crum Crumlin Viaduct Co Crumlin
Dut S T Dutton & Co. Worcester Ex McK&H employee
Absorbed by Pease 1899
EH&Co Easterbrook, Hannaford & Co. London Ex S&F employee
Ceased trading 1885.
EoD Evans, O’Donnell & Co Chippenham Ex Dut employee
Absorbed by S&F 1903
GWC Gloucester Wagon Co
I’Anson I’Anson
Keay E C & J Keay Darlaston Absorbed by Tyer 1927
McK&H McKenzie & Holland Worcester Absorbed by WBS 1920
Pease J F Pease & Co Middlesborough Absorbed by McK&H 1901
Poole Poole
R&R Ransome & Rapier Ipswich
RSCo Railway Signal Co. Liverpool Ex GWC employee
Absorbed by WBS 1974
S&F Saxby & Farmer London Absorbed by WBS
S&S Stevens & Sons London
Sykes W R Sykes & Co London
Tweedy J Tweedy & Co Carlisle Absorbed by Tyer 1898
Tyer Tyer & Co London Absorbed by Field and Grant, becoming STS Signals, STS Rail and now in the ownership of a Dutch company as STS Rail – Mors Smitt UK.
WBS Westinghouse Brake & (Saxby) Signal Co Chippenham Extant
Williams Henry Williams Cathcart, subsequently Darlington Extant
Y&S Yardley & Smith Manchester
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