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A point terminology question

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

A point terminology question

Unread postby Chris Osment » Sat Aug 26, 2017 5:26 pm

[Note: I've put this in 'historical' because I'm mainly interested in the pre-1968 situation, but comments on more recent practice also welcome.]

Imagine a simple single-line passing-loop. An approaching Down train would pass the Down Distant, the Down Home and then run into the Down Loop, in the process passing over the facing points which connected the Down and Up loops together. Now, some ex-L&SWR locking tables which I have seen describe those facing points as 'Down Loop Points' ( presumably because they are at the entrance to the Down Loop?), whereas in other ex-L&SWR examples they are described as the 'Up Loop Points' (presumably because that is what they provide access to when reversed?). A similar disparity exists at the other end of the loop, with the points there being described variously as the Up Loop or Down Loop points. I have even found one example (Shillingstone) where the terminology was 'changed around' during BR days - why bother?

So - was there not any sort of standard terminology for such points? Was it simply left to the 'whim' of the person compiling the table?
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Re: A point terminology question

Unread postby davidwoodcock » Sat Aug 26, 2017 8:17 pm

In respect of the ex-L&SWR examples, I can think of two/three immediate queries:

1) Is it related in some way to the "direction" of the frame, or, put simply, whether lever 1 operates (or would operate) the up distant or the down distant?

2) Are the variations you have observed scattered at random across (the single lines of) the former L&SWR or do they correspond with Engineering Districts? or do they relate to the date of the locking of the frame?

Shillingstone changed its "owning" Region (more than once?) during BR days, could the change in terminology there be related to that?
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Re: A point terminology question

Unread postby John Webb » Sun Aug 27, 2017 7:42 am

Would the terminology have been altered after the accident at Horspath loop on the Princes Risborough/Thame/Oxford line (can't recall the date)? In this case a downhill train entered through the uphill loop end points but ran away and went through the downhill points to hit the train waiting to come up hill into the loop. I understand that after this incident at passing loops in general the uphill train was always got into the loop first before the downhill train was admitted - so if the latter ran away it would be onto a clear line. Just a thought!
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Re: A point terminology question

Unread postby Fast Line Floyd » Sun Aug 27, 2017 5:25 pm

My memory of LSW practice was that where there was no obvious other name they would be called a name of line plus a compass direction so that you would have for instance 'Loop Points East'.
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Re: A point terminology question

Unread postby Chris Osment » Sun Aug 27, 2017 5:59 pm

davidwoodcock wrote:In respect of the ex-L&SWR examples, I can think of two/three immediate queries:

1) Is it related in some way to the "direction" of the frame, or, put simply, whether lever 1 operates (or would operate) the up distant or the down distant?

2) Are the variations you have observed scattered at random across (the single lines of) the former L&SWR or do they correspond with Engineering Districts? or do they relate to the date of the locking of the frame?

Shillingstone changed its "owning" Region (more than once?) during BR days, could the change in terminology there be related to that?


I would need to do a bit of searching to answer accurately, but IIRC from the few that I looked at before posting the question:-

1. Don't think so. For example, I've seen two boxes with Down being L to R, yet differing terminology
2. I've come across a couple of instances of boxes on the same line having different terminology, so I doubt that it is due to different Districts. As to (re)locking dates - difficult to say without more background details than I have.
3. AFAIK Shillingstone only changed ownership once (in 1963) when it went from SR to WR. The sidings on the Down side were removed not long afterwards - there might be a connection there?

I suppose my main question is - is there a 'right' or 'wrong' way to describe the loop points, or is it simply the case that 'it varied'?
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Re: A point terminology question

Unread postby davidwoodcock » Sun Aug 27, 2017 7:21 pm

The only example that I can quickly be certain of is Swanwick, opened the day that the 1889 Act came into force, and that has the UP LOOP POINTS at the down end of the station, thus facing up trains (and grouped with the three up signals - 11 up loop points, 12 fpl on up loop points, 13 up starting signal, 14 up home signal, 15 up distant signal). However the plate for 11 has an additional short word either before or after loop which I cannot make out.

There is some logic to this in that, for an up train, although 11 stays normal in the frame, 12, 13, 14 and finally 15 have to reversed in that sequence. Presumably 5 (down loop points) was reversed before 12, I wonder if that was enforced by the locking or whether it would just have been the bobby's natural way of doing the job.
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Re: A point terminology question

Unread postby Chris Rideout » Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:07 pm

At Ropley (Mid-Hants Railway), the points to the crossing loops are named in the facing position, i.e. Down Main Facing.

At Gillingham, Dorset, the down points (Salisbury end) were labelled:


DOWN MAIN FACING TO LOOP
_________________________

MAIN


At the other end:

UP MAIN FACING
____________

FROM LOOP


Both routes for normal and reverse lever positions were described. Some of the Isle of Wight boxes had points labelled in a similar fashion and this practice also found its way onto the FPLs which would be described in this fashion:

POINT LOCK
NO. 7

UNLOCKED
________

LOCKED

The Southern Railway (or possibly BR Southern Region) Presumably disliked this terminology and proceeded to alter it to suit their own descriptive language. Was it really necessary?
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Re: A point terminology question

Unread postby Chris Rideout » Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:22 pm

John Webb wrote:Would the terminology have been altered after the accident at Horspath loop on the Princes Risborough/Thame/Oxford line (can't recall the date)? In this case a downhill train entered through the uphill loop end points but ran away and went through the downhill points to hit the train waiting to come up hill into the loop. I understand that after this incident at passing loops in general the uphill train was always got into the loop first before the downhill train was admitted - so if the latter ran away it would be onto a clear line. Just a thought!

Quite a good thought. Also, when trains were booked to cross, the train on a rising gradient was usually timed to arrive first and wait a few minutes for the other one. This harks back to old days when the loco might be rather short of steam after a long climb and allowed the crew to raise a bit more pressure before departure time.
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