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Essington Wood Signal Box

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Essington Wood Signal Box

Unread postby pwholmes » Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:31 pm

Hi, I am new to the forum.

I am a professional Railwayman with 40 years (almost) technical experience of railway engineering, being a Chartered Mechanical Engineer who joined BR in 1976 straight from university. I have worked on 25kV OLE and third rail electrification, vehicle commissioning (I was the Commissioning team manager for the prototype sprinters, the Class 58 locomotives and the rebuilt Class 37s in the 1980s). I have also worked in Hongkong, Taiwan, Dubai and Brisbane and am now a contractor involved in the GE rewiring project from Bethnal Green to Chelmsford and Southend Victoria.

I am also a keen trainsimmer and I am trying to build the NCB lines from Essington Wood Sidings (on the Walsall-Rugeley line to Cradley Heath Wharf, Hollybank Colliery and Hilton Main colliery. Can anyone help me with the following (NB I have been scouring the internet for a week with little or not result):

1) the signalling diagramme and p/way layout at Essington Wood
2) What was the nature of Birdlip (?) Road "Signal box". I suspect that it was simply a gate box to operate the barriers with a home signal protecting the crossing in each direction, but I could be wrong and it could have been a block post connected by block instruments to Essington Wood.
3) Any other details of p/way arrangements, or other signalling on the branches
4) Anything else - eg drawings, diagrammes, photos - to help me in my quest.

Thanks for your assistance and I look forward to many posts with you all.

Paul
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Re: Essington Wood Signal Box

Unread postby John Hinson » Fri Nov 20, 2015 9:30 am

Hello Paul,

You don't say your date of interest but here is a plan for Essington Wood Sidings box as it was in 1977:
http://www.signalbox.org/diagrams.php?id=1035

The signalling is very basic (note how few shunt signals there are!) which shows the layout changed little here over the years. The main difference in earlier times was that there was a box named North Cannock Sidings just to the north controlling that end of what became dead-end sidings.I suspect signals 3 and 19 probably originally belonged to that box.

If you have any diffciulties interpreting signalling symbols on the drawing, don't be afraid to ask.

I can't trace any evidence of a fully-fledged signalbox named Birdlip Road but it could have had another name of course. I will try and find out more. Can you say roughly where it was?

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Re: Essington Wood Signal Box

Unread postby Pete2320 » Fri Nov 20, 2015 11:36 am

I suspect "Birdlip Road" would have been an NCB (and there predecessors) box and as such conventional block working is unlikely.
The Chacewater Railway have an extensive archive of colliery lines in this area.

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Re: Essington Wood Signal Box

Unread postby pwholmes » Fri Nov 20, 2015 2:26 pm

Thank you both for your help - the diagramme is EXACTLY what I wanted. I shall post screenshots of the route as I build it.

If anyone has any further information it would be gratefully received.

Paul
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Re: Essington Wood Signal Box

Unread postby pwholmes » Fri Nov 20, 2015 3:22 pm

I have looked at the diagramme you have sent, John and you are right, there are very few signals for shunting moves with only one ground disc for exiting the up sidings to the up main. I presume that all other moves would be either in control of a shunter in the sidings or, if accessing the main from the sidings or vice versa they would be hand signalled from the signal box??

The other "signal box" I referred to is Bursnips Road (sorry, my mistake) and is a strange turretty thing on the side of a building adjacent to the eponymous crossing. If you google the subject "Burnips Road Level Crossing" you will surely get an image of this strange structure. The crossing itself was fitted with barriers and protected by two home signals. I find it hard to believe that the structure shown could have contained a signal frame.

If there was no signalling or block working on the branches, I have to assume they were worked by sight as permissive block or "one-engine-in-steam. Maybe there was some form of dispatcher somewhere controlling the movements by written(?) instruction?

Any idea anyone? How did they operate these longish single track branches safely?

Paul
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Re: Essington Wood Signal Box

Unread postby John Hinson » Fri Nov 20, 2015 4:23 pm

Aha . . . that place! I should have made the conmnection.

It may have been a signal box of sorts at one time (as there are connections nearby) but I think latterley it probably didn't serve any purpose at all. The gates were probvably just worked by hand - the justification for manning a place like that would have soon been seen as excessive.

Yes, I think you sum up the working at Essington Wood Sidings spot on.

The 1960 Sectional Appendix shows the whole branch from Essington Wood Sidings through Holly Bank Colliery to Lewis' Tileriy as a single One Engine in Steam section.

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Re: Essington Wood Signal Box

Unread postby pwholmes » Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:14 am

I have a scanned photograph from a book on Hollybank and Hilton Main Collieries taken from the weighbridge on the Essington Wood side of Bursnips Crossing looking towards Essington Wood. This shows another signal (mentioned as such in the caption) and possibly a further signal (which could have two arms, one above the other on the same post). Both of these are in the area where the lines to the canal wharf at Short Heath and the line to Essington Wood diverged.

It seems that there were other signal on the branch - does anyone know what they were, where they were controlled from (they are too far I would suggest from Bursnips Road) and if there were any other signals on the routes.

I will post the photograph here if someone will tell me how to do it!!
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Re: Essington Wood Signal Box

Unread postby S&TEngineer » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:02 am

pwholmes wrote:I will post the photograph here if someone will tell me how to do it!!

Moderator Note: For information on how to post photographs see here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=35 but also note rules regarding copyright that can be found here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1368
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Re: Essington Wood Signal Box

Unread postby pwholmes » Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:32 pm

In that case I cannot post the photograph.

Pity, a picture is worth a thousand words, and easier too!
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Re: Essington Wood Signal Box

Unread postby John Webb » Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:01 pm

After closure, so no signals visible, but it may be of interest (click on picture to go to larger original):
Bursnips Road Signal Box, Essington
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© Copyright John M and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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Re: Essington Wood Signal Box

Unread postby pwholmes » Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:33 pm

Very heavily rebuilt, in fact a totally new building. The original signal box was less square judging from old photographs. There is an excellent one of the original building in the Frith collection of photographs.
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Re: Essington Wood Signal Box

Unread postby pwholmes » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:10 am

I have just been looking at the 1960 Sectional Appendix for the branch and found the following entry:

"Trips to Holly Bank Colliery must come to a stand at the Holly Bank Colliery signal, situated at the Essington end of the stock sidings, and remain there until the shunter in charge has been to the group of hand points between this and the colliery box and satisfied himself that the road is properly set."

By this time Holly Bank was not drawing coal and I presume that the "stock sidings" were the through sidings that were truncated by the later building of the M6 motorway bridge. I am not sure what they mean by the "Essington end" as Essington village is at one end of these sidings and Essington Wood (where the junction with the main line is) is at the other. This poses two further questions:

1) what do they mean by the "..colliery box..."? Is this the odd looking crossing box at Bursnip Road?

2) where was the "..Holly Bank Colliery signal.."? Is this the signal protecting the crossing, or could it be one of the other signals referred to in my previous post?

All in all the inference is that the signalling was a bit more substantial than as previously discussed in these posts. Did Bursnip Road actually have a frame that controlled the signals here? I have found a photo of a gate operating wheel but I don't know if it was inside or outside Bursnip Road crossing box. Information is scarce, I have found a sufficient number of photos of Bursnip crossing looking towards Essington Wood box and the main line but why couldn't anyone turn round and photograph the other way or take a photo of the inside of the signal box?? - I would appreciate anyone who has any other ideas of where I can go to research this to make suggestions.

Paul
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Re: Essington Wood Signal Box

Unread postby Signalhunter » Wed Dec 23, 2015 9:45 am

pwholmes wrote:"but why couldn't anyone turn round and photograph the other way or take a photo of the inside of the signal box?? "
Paul


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Re: Essington Wood Signal Box

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:07 pm

Pwholmes bemoans the lack of interior photos, but of course the main reason that by far the majority of surviving photos are external only are that little "Private" notice on the door. Signalhunter is right. One of the difficulties facing people who are trying to restore/preserve/simulate boxes is that interior photos where they do exist tend to be confined to the frame, diagram and instruments. The location of stove and toilet can generally be deduced from external photos. But there is a lack of shots of "boring" details such as position of the booking desk and phones or more domestic matters such as what equipment was provided in the way of washing/cooking facilities. Historical local instructions are particularly thin on the ground.
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Re: Essington Wood Signal Box

Unread postby pwholmes » Wed Dec 23, 2015 5:01 pm

I have heard that there is information available at the Walsall archive centre and will try to pop in there the next time I can get to Walsall. When I do I will post any further information here.
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