Thursday 23 January 2014

Broadway Signal Box - the Aller Junction Connection

As previously posted the Aller Junction Lever Frame has been refurbished by S&T and will be used in the Broadway Signal Box. BAG Volunteer Jim Hitchen has  gathered together the following pictures showing  the Aller Box in action. Pictures 2-8 were purchased by Jim from the Totnes Image Bank.  We are grateful to the TIB for kind permission to use the photos in GWSR and BAG  Publications.

An informative contribution by BAG Volunteer Jim Hitchen on the Aller Junction Signal Box.

Aller Junction SB was located on the Great Western main line between Newton Abbott and Totnes, approximately 195 miles from Paddington.  It controlled the junction with the branch line to Paignton and Kingswear, the latter now forming part of the Dartmoor Steam Railway & Riverboat Company.  It was also the point where the Up and Down main lines became a four-track railway with main and relief lines in both directions into Newton Abbot station.
Beyond Aller Junction in the down direction was the infamous climb to Dainton Summit.  It was key to the punctual running of down trains that the Aller signalman was able to obtain acceptance from Dainton Summit SB and then be able to clear his signals before the train reached the Down Main Distant.  This indicated a clear road ahead and drivers could “open up” in order to attack the bank which had gradients as steep as 1 in 34 in places.
Aller Junction SB was closed with the introduction of the panel box at Exeter in May 1987.  The lever frame was originally purchased by G.M. Kitchenside,  author of several railway books including “British Railways Signalling”.  It was intended to be utilised in conjunction with a garden railway project at his home in Newton Abbott.  However, this project never materialised and some ten years later the frame was sold on to the GWSR.  The GWSR Signal Engineer Malcolm Walker and Broadway volunteer John Simms spent a busy weekend retrieving the frame and arranging transportation to the GWSR.  Since then the S & T Department have been gradually restoring and re-engineering the frame for its future life at Broadway.
Whilst the Aller Junction lever frame consists of 46 levers as against the original 37 at Broadway, the current proposals to signal Broadway as a fully bi-directional station with all shunt movements also signalled, is likely to result in more working levers in this location than were in use towards the end of its days at Aller Junction.  If funding allows, then it is likely the frame will start its new life in Worcesterhire  some thirty years after it was declared redundant in Devon!
For the sake of completeness, here is a complete inventory of the GWSR signal boxes as they will be when the Broadway project is completed.

New Build
New Build
Claydon Crossing
Hall Green
Honeybourne West Loop
Original Restoration
Earlswood Lakes
New Build
Aller Junction

There must be a story behind the demise of the Aller Box and the retrieval of the Lever Frame. If you email me I will be happy to post it on the Blog


Dave said...

Lovely pictures. I especially like the view of the wooden window frames!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic shots of Aller Jct.
Aller Jct. bridge was demolished over the Christmas period in preparation for the Kingskerswell bypass.
Matthew J.

Anonymous said...

I cringed inwardly when I heard that UPVC window frames were being proposed. HORRIBLE!! HORRIBLE!! HORRIBLE!!! This station is going to be a GWR GEM. Let's avoid this sort of thing at all costs.

Oh yes, and we want proper coal fires in the Waiting Rooms. passengers love them cf Arley, Bewdley etc etc....

Howard Parker, Heritage Dept & Steam Dept

Anonymous said...

problem is with wood, you have to paint it every three years. and hire a scaffold to do the painting. and painting this kind of window is horribly fiddly, even on a scaffold in the winter. leave wood any longer than three years and in an exposed spot like that and it becomes an ever more major job.

and period plastic windows have come a long way recently, even in the past couple of years. they used to be horrible, I will grant you.

Michael Johnson said...

When the subject of PVC window frames was first mentioned (in the comments on the post 'The Broadway Signal Box' of Thursday January 21 - scroll down to see it) someone pointed out that the plans for the signal box specified original-style timber window frames.

Now we're talking about PVC window frames again, as if the plans have changed. But I have not seen any official word on the subject - just comments going to and fro.

What is the real story? Timber or PVC?

Is it possible for someone with real decision-making authority to give us the definitive word?

I'm sure Alan Bielby (Special Projects director) or Darren Fairley (Civil Engineering director) or Pat Green (head of Buildings & Services) could let us know what's happening.

I'd be happy to email any of the above people and ask the essential question - but obviously it would be better if one (or more) of them could explain matters upfront - before we end up with another batch of rumours flying around.

Anonymous said...

It's definately wood, hardwood, painted and profiles to match originals exactly. Box and station will be as close to the original as is physically possible (as far as joinery is concerned)