Railway signalling discussion

Birchden Junction

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

Birchden Junction

Unread postby colin1501 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:24 am

I'm trying to confirm some vague recollections of the arrangements at Birchden Junction (on the Uckfield line) during the 1970s, and some time after Ashurst Junction had disappeared. As I recall, Birchden Junction acquired an outer home signal on the down Oxted line, possibly on the post that had carried Ashurst Junction's down starter. There was also a 'new' distant signal, some way north of the site of Ashurst Junction, mounted on a grey painted tubular post. I assume this was either fixed or motor-worked, as it was probably too far from the box to be wire-operated. I assume these arrangements allowed the box to accept a down Oxted line train from Hever (Ashurst Station box was normally switched out), having already set the route and cleared the signals for a train from the Groombridge direction.

Can anyone confirm my recollections, and does anyone have a diagram from that period?

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Re: Birchden Junction

Unread postby Peter Gibbons » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:08 pm

To the best of my knowledge you are correct about an Outer Home being provided after Ashurst Junction box had closed. I also believe you are correct that this signal was originally controlled from Ashurst Junction.

The new Down Distant that was provided was a signal fixed at caution, so there was no lever operating it post Ashurst Junction closure.

My understanding for the reason for providing a Down Main Outer Home signal was for acceptance purposes and allowed a trains to be accepted from the Groombridge and Ashurst directions at the same time. Both Down Home signals from Groombridge and Ashurst respectively were too close to the junction to be accepted under Reg 4 because the clearing point was well beyond the junction. This became more important with the closure of other signal boxes as in the latter years when block section would be from Hever when open, or Hurst Green Junction when Hever was switched out.

A track circuit was provided in the Down Main line which extended from 290 yards on the approach side of the Down Main Outer Home to the Down Main Inner Home signal. This was indicated by a track circuit repeater rather than by an illuminated track circuit diagram, which was never supplied to any boxes on the line between Edenbridge Town and Uckfield.

The timetable was normally arranged at Birchden Junction so that the train from the Tunbridge Wells West direction would be allowed past Birchden Junction to terminate at Eridge, with the Victoria/Oxted to Uckfield service following.

Birchden Junction in latter years at least only had one points lever and FPL both for the facing points in the Up line, the trailing points being unworked.

All distances below are from the centre of the signal box. The list of levers were:

1. Up Main Distant (1095 yards Eridge side)
2. Up Main Home (127 yards Eridge side)
3. Up Main Starting (395 yards Eridge side)
4. Spare
5. Up Branch Distant (1095 yards Eridge Side)
6. Up Branch Home (127 yards Eridge side)
7. Spare
8. Spare
9. Spare
10. Spare
11. Spare
12. FPL on 12 points (39 yards Eridge side)
13. Up Line Junction Points (39 yards Eridge side)
14. Spare
15. Spare
16. Down Main Inner Home (130 yards Ashurst side)
17. Down Main Outer Home (1056 yards Ashurst side)
18. Spare
19. Down Branch Home (129 yards Groombridge side)
20. Down Branch Distant (1078 yards Groombridge side)

The 'new' fixed distant on the Down Main is shown as being 2213 yards Ashurst side

I believe that Birchden Junction was the last example of fully working splitting distant signals on the former Southern Region. These being signals 1 and 5 and were mounted below Eridge's Up Advanced Starting signal.

Hope that helps
Peter G
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Peter Gibbons
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Re: Birchden Junction

Unread postby colin1501 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:47 pm


Many thanks for these comprehensive and helpful details - it's pleasing to know that my recollection is pretty well there. I remember the splitting distant under Eridge's advanced starter.

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