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Old Kent Road Plate - Help Needed Please

British signalling of the past (UK, excepting Northern Ireland)

Old Kent Road Plate - Help Needed Please

Unread postby pads » Sat Aug 16, 2008 3:14 pm

I have just acquired a cast iron plate or 'lozenge' (?) that would have been fitted to a signal box lever. It is painted red and marked 'SR' on the rear. On the front it is marked as number 30 with the inscription 'FROM OLD KENT ROAD HOME' and it also carries the interlock numbers '16.17.22'. My guess is that it came from one of the signal boxes around London Bridge, Bricklayers Arms or New Cross but I am very interested to find out exactly where it came from. Can anyone shed any light on where it may have come from or where I might be able to find this out?

Thanks,

Mark Patrick
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Unread postby Keith » Sat Aug 16, 2008 4:08 pm

Welcome to the forum Mark. I believe Old Kent Road Junction must have been the junction just north of Queens Road Peckham where lines fanned out towards London Bridge, the East London Line, Deptford Wharf, and each side of New Cross Gate, so it would make sense for it to be the next box on one of these routes. Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with the historical situation in that area, nor do I have any suitable reference books, but there's a good chance someone here knows something useful...
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Unread postby Martin Shaw » Sun Aug 17, 2008 1:39 pm

Keith

Spot on.

Mark

The lever plate you have comes from New Cross Lift Bridge, renamed Deptford Lift Bridge some time between 1920 and 1928. It controlled the lift bridge over the Surrey Canal. It also had an eclectic collection of block working,

Tyers Block to Deptford Wharf North
Sykes Lock & Block from Deptford Wharf North
Tyers Block to EL Up Junc, Wharf Road up & down sides
Electric Train Staff to Old Kent Rd Junc

The box finally closed on 13/12/65. I have vague memories of seeing it from the main line above in my schoolday travelling. Somewhere in a book I have a photograph, which if I can find it, I'll post a copy.

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Unread postby Martin Shaw » Sun Aug 17, 2008 2:31 pm

Mark

Found the photo, by R.C.Riley 29/03/58.

Image

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Unread postby John Webb » Sun Aug 17, 2008 5:50 pm

There is a diagram showing the complex network of the railways in this area in the Middleton Press book "Charing Cross to Dartford" (Mitchell and Smith, 1990 ISBN 0 906520 75 4) below Plate 41, although the position of the lift bridge is not marked. There is no photo of it.
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Unread postby John Hinson » Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:39 pm

Martin Shaw wrote:Mark

Found the photo, by R.C.Riley 29/03/58.


Nice picture, a very early Saxby & Farmer box by the looks of it - but the lack of windows in the end is odd. As the nameboard just says Lift Bridge, I think we can safely assume it was not renamed but simply moved between Station Masters' responsibility.

Heck of an awkward wheel for the signalman to wind . . .

:o)

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Unread postby Keith » Mon Aug 18, 2008 12:07 am

signalman wrote:Heck of an awkward wheel for the signalman to wind . . .

I was thiinking that. I can't believe they wound the bridge up with that. Is that not an electric motor top left? Maybe they wound it up when the motor failed. :? The whole thing looks quite a contraption anyway - did Heath Robinson have anything to do with the design?
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Unread postby John Webb » Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:09 am

I saw this bridge a few times while in the fourth year (1960) at secondary school less than a mile from this bridge. I and a couple of other railway enthusiasts would sometimes take our sandwiches and go off for a stroll or to New Cross Gate station to get away from the school premises for an hour. What a shame I never thought to photograph it!

The Surrey Canal that it takes the line across was virtually moribund by then and I never saw the bridge lifted.

I'm sure that the large wheels were for hand-raising the bridge if the electric motor failed, although I suspect the wheels were in use well before the motor was fitted.
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Unread postby Blair Robinson » Mon Aug 18, 2008 6:42 pm

There are more photos of the bridge in the Middleton book "London Bridge to East Croydon". One of these shows the bridge raised, and two tank lighters (barges) "Clare" and "Arran" passing beneath it. This is dated 2nd May 1961, and would have been around the time when I was a student with the New Cross Gate S&T gang, passing this place rregularly. The description says the branch was closed on 1st January 1964 - it doen't say whem the canal closed, but it says there is more information on the canal in their book "Surrey Waterways".

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Unread postby John Webb » Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:02 pm

The Grand Surrey Canal and the Surry Commercial Docks were "closed in the 1970s" to quote the Shell Book of Inland Waterways (Hugh McKnight, David and Charles 1981).

But at New Cross, the Croydon Canal had branched off the Surrey canal and went via 26 locks a distance of 9.5 miles to a canal basin in Croydon. Opened in 1809, it was bought up by the London and Croydon Railway Company in 1836 and by 1839 they had built their railway line mostly on the line of the canal through New Cross Gate and southwards. West Croydon station was built on the site of the canal basin. (Information from "Lost Canals and Waterways of Britain", Ronald Russell, David and Charles, 1982.)
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Thanks for the info

Unread postby pads » Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:37 pm

All,

Thank you for providing so much useful information, it's really interesting to find this out. There is another similar but larger bridge on the line into Greenwich station, it can be observed quite clearly from the DLR. It must have been able to raise once but the track appears to be continuously welded over it now so I doubt it will ever raise again!

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Unread postby JRB » Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:53 pm

That's Deptford Creek.
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Unread postby John Webb » Tue Aug 19, 2008 10:25 am

Deptford Creek bridge does feature in the 'Charing Cross to Dartford' book mentioned in my previous posting. The bridge used to be two 'bascules' which hinged back like a mini-Tower Bridge and the track used to have to be removed before this could be done - all by hand, of course. It was replaced in 1963 by a 40 ton electrically-operated lifting structure, a rather larger and more modern version of the lift bridge which started this topic off!

No longer travelling to SE London, I have no idea what the current status of this bridge is.
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Unread postby Weichenhebel » Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:00 am

An old (1932) photo of the bridge.
Quote: "This required a team of twelve men to open, and the whole operation took over an hour". You can clearly see the gang dismantling the track...
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Re:

Unread postby davidwoodcock » Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:01 pm

Keith wrote:
signalman wrote:Heck of an awkward wheel for the signalman to wind . . .

I was thinking that. I can't believe they wound the bridge up with that. Is that not an electric motor top left? Maybe they wound it up when the motor failed. :? The whole thing looks quite a contraption anyway - did Heath Robinson have anything to do with the design?


When the lifting mechanism eventually failed, a breakdown crane had to be summoned (presumably from Bricklayers' Arms) each time that it became necessary to lift the bridge for strings of lighters (usually loaded with timber) to pass along the canal. The branch was then closed as quickly as the closure process permitted and the bridge left fixed in the raised position until it could be dismantled. I can remember seeing the crane holding the bridge up. The failure was probably in the gearing so the hand wheels were of no use, I believe they were provided in case the electrical supply failed.
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