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GWR GF lock terminology

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

GWR GF lock terminology

Unread postby Chris Osment » Sun Jan 29, 2017 3:41 pm

I acquired recently a copy of a page from a 1948 GWR Appendix list of “Ground Frames and Intermediate Sidings”.

In the “How Locked” column there were several entries for “Annett’s Key on Train Token”. Now, I am aware that early versions of the GWR electric key tokens did have an Annett’s key on the handle end for GF releases, but......this table included 4 GFs on the Highworth branch, of which one was listed as locked by “Annett’s Key on Train Token” and the other 3 simply as “By Train Token”.

So, does this mean that the latter 3 were unlocked by the ‘token’ key end rather than the Annett’s key end, or am I reading too much into the terminology?
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Re: GWR GF lock terminology

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Sun Jan 29, 2017 5:57 pm

One wonders why that level of detail was deemed necessary in the Appendix. After all, if you're at the GF and you've got the token (and you have rather more to worry about if your train got there without it!), surely you just insert it into the lock and do your shunting.

Or did some some sections using these Annetts keys have the key on the handle end of only some of their tokens (meaning you had to be careful to collect one of those rather than a plain one)?
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Re: GWR GF lock terminology

Unread postby MRFS » Sun Jan 29, 2017 6:50 pm

I'm sure I've seen a photo of a GW EKT machine that had about half the tokens fitted with Annetts Keys.
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Re: GWR GF lock terminology

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Mon Jan 30, 2017 12:40 pm

I too felt I had seen photos like that, but was not sure whether it was in historic photos or in a museum/preservation setting.

If you have both types on the section, obviously the signalman has to issue an Annetts Key token to the freight stopping at the siding. If he forgets, one might hope the driver would point it out, but the regulations only require him to ensure it is the token for the correct section. I can't help thinking that there must have been times a train arrived at the siding only to find the key didn't work the lock. However I've never heard any mention of it - perhaps too embarrassing to admit, but it's the sort of mistake that your colleagues would never let you live down! Perhaps the requirement to offer as 1-2-2 and accept under the Warning would have helped as a reminder

In addition to the ordinary need for balancing of tokens, it would also be necessary to ensure the Annetts Keys worked back in due course, so presumably it wasn't just a case of issuing plain tokens to trains not stopping, sometimes it would be how the Annetts Keys got home. Most of these sidings could only conveniently be worked in one direction, so there would be a tendency for the keys to accumulate at the advance end. The box in rear finding the Annetts Keys were all at the wrong end when he needed one is perhaps an easier mistake to make, but again I have never heard any mention of it.
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Re: GWR GF lock terminology

Unread postby davidwoodcock » Mon Jan 30, 2017 1:01 pm

Mike Hodgson wrote:In addition to the ordinary need for balancing of tokens, it would also be necessary to ensure the Annetts Keys worked back in due course, so presumably it wasn't just a case of issuing plain tokens to trains not stopping, sometimes it would be how the Annetts Keys got home. Most of these sidings could only conveniently be worked in one direction, so there would be a tendency for the keys to accumulate at the advance end. The box in rear finding the Annetts Keys were all at the wrong end when he needed one is perhaps an easier mistake to make, but again I have never heard any mention of it.


Local instruction, perhaps, that in the reverse direction any available tokens+AKs should always be issued in preference to plain ones. An easy instruction to adhere to which would ensure that the tokens+AKs would always migrate to the end of the section where they were needed.

If there were a actual need to issue tokens+AKs in both directions, instructions at both ends could state that they were to be issued in preference whenever there were more than whatever number represented just over half the available tokens+AKs for the section.
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Re: GWR GF lock terminology

Unread postby S&TEngineer » Mon Jan 30, 2017 1:10 pm

I think the Dean Forest Railway have such a machine.

Edit: Yes, here it is http://tillyweb.biz/gallery/nn/norchardekt.jpg
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Re: GWR GF lock terminology

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:06 pm

Those all have keys on the ends, so unless there are plain ones at the other end, the accumulation problem doesn't arise.

I see the wording is different on one of them - it is worded to be valid only as far as the Limit of Shunt, yet appears mechanically identical to a token for the whole section. I seem to recall there was a rather unusual arrangement for working the in-section junction to give access to the Parkend Line, though I don't remember the details.
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Re: GWR GF lock terminology

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:16 pm

davidwoodcock wrote:Local instruction, perhaps, that in the reverse direction any available tokens+AKs should always be issued in preference to plain ones. An easy instruction to adhere to which would ensure that the tokens+AKs would always migrate to the end of the section where they were needed.

Eminently reasonable of course, but would the GWR have taken the trouble to spell this out in their "footnotes" or would they have relied on signalmen's common sense? Such an instruction is not safety-critical - its impact is only inconvenience/delay.
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Re: GWR GF lock terminology

Unread postby davidwoodcock » Mon Jan 30, 2017 11:37 pm

Mike Hodgson wrote:
davidwoodcock wrote:Local instruction, perhaps, that in the reverse direction any available tokens+AKs should always be issued in preference to plain ones. An easy instruction to adhere to which would ensure that the tokens+AKs would always migrate to the end of the section where they were needed.

Eminently reasonable of course, but would the GWR have taken the trouble to spell this out in their "footnotes" or would they have relied on signalmen's common sense? Such an instruction is not safety-critical - its impact is only inconvenience/delay.


I doubt whether the GWR would have needed to spell it out, but in later BR(W) days when there was a big turnover of signalmen it might have been sensible - after all it wasn't unknown for pilotman working to be introduced because it actually proved impossible to staff essential single line boxes. I realise that signalmen have to sign their boxes but suspect that some of the fine detail like this might have been overlooked in later days - until it caused a reportable delay.
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Re: GWR GF lock terminology

Unread postby John Hinson » Tue Jan 31, 2017 10:01 am

davidwoodcock wrote:after all it wasn't unknown for pilotman working to be introduced because it actually proved impossible to staff essential single line boxes.

That's a new one on me, I think it must have been very rare. I would have thought it would use more staff to implement pilotman working correctly, and at any rate I doubt it is a circumstance permitted under the Rule Book.

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Re: GWR GF lock terminology

Unread postby davidwoodcock » Tue Jan 31, 2017 11:11 am

Yes, John, it probably requires more staff in total but the point is that none of those staff have to be signalmen passed out for the relevant boxes. I assure you that it happened and sometimes for weeks on end, the boxes concerned were at locations where no trains were booked to pass (in the thinner timetables imposed prior to "Beeching" closures) but which had no provision for the introduction of long-section working.
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Re: GWR GF lock terminology

Unread postby S&TEngineer » Tue Jan 31, 2017 11:22 am

Mike Hodgson wrote:Those all have keys on the ends, so unless there are plain ones at the other end, the accumulation problem doesn't arise.

Mmm....There appear to be three key tokens in the middle left hand magazine slot and the bottom one doesn't seem to have an Annetts Key end.
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Re: GWR GF lock terminology

Unread postby John Hinson » Tue Jan 31, 2017 3:15 pm

davidwoodcock wrote:Yes, John, it probably requires more staff in total but the point is that none of those staff have to be signalmen passed out for the relevant boxes. I assure you that it happened and sometimes for weeks on end, the boxes concerned were at locations where no trains were booked to pass (in the thinner timetables imposed prior to "Beeching" closures) but which had no provision for the introduction of long-section working.

Weeks on end? Holy smoke. I wonder how they got away with that without HQ finding out. A person qualified to act as Responsible Officer or Pilotman should be able to train and pass out a branch line box in a day. This sounds like an urban myth to me.

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Re: GWR GF lock terminology

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Tue Jan 31, 2017 3:34 pm

S&TEngineer wrote:Mmm....There appear to be three key tokens in the middle left hand magazine slot and the bottom one doesn't seem to have an Annetts Key end.

Yes, your eyesight is better than mine !
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Re: GWR GF lock terminology

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Tue Jan 31, 2017 3:42 pm

John Hinson wrote:Weeks on end? Holy smoke. I wonder how they got away with that without HQ finding out. A person qualified to act as Responsible Officer or Pilotman should be able to train and pass out a branch line box in a day.


He can't do that while he's riding about on the footplate all day!
Would the pilotman have to work crossing gates himself in this situation or would they put a gatekeeper into a box in this situation ?

If it's all going to close anyway under Beeching, perhaps HQ were as demoralised as everybody else.
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