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Rearward facing frames

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

Rearward facing frames

Unread postby guard_jamie » Sun Jan 7, 2018 3:10 pm

A question that has occurred to me - which was the first Signal Box to have a frame facing the rear of the box, and when did this style become something approximating to a standard? I know that the Caledonian sometimes has an unusual design where the frame was mounted in the middle of a deep box facing backward.
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Re: Rearward facing frames

Unread postby John Hinson » Sun Jan 7, 2018 5:07 pm

I think the first may well have been dictated by otherwise obstructed views or other operational reasons rather than a change of policy.

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Re: Rearward facing frames

Unread postby guard_jamie » Sun Jan 7, 2018 6:56 pm

Quite possibly, but it did become something of a standard.
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Re: Rearward facing frames

Unread postby John Hinson » Sun Jan 7, 2018 8:42 pm

guard_jamie wrote:Quite possibly, but it did become something of a standard.

But only with some railway companies, and many others were not consistent. You would need to study each individually, as they would have each had their own policies.

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Re: Rearward facing frames

Unread postby Pete2320 » Sun Jan 7, 2018 9:57 pm

Rear framed boxes go back to the earliest days. Personally I know Kilnwick was rear framed until a new front mounted frame was provided c1980. I suspect this applied to many contemporary NER boxes. As an extreme example, wasn't the Hole in the Wall box at London Victoria rear framed.

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Re: Rearward facing frames

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Mon Jan 8, 2018 8:16 am

I have been given to understand some boxes changed from frame at front to frame at back or vice versa simply because the frame needed to be replaced for whatever reason and there was room to do the work while continuing (presumably at considerable inconvenience) to operate using the old one.
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Re: Rearward facing frames

Unread postby Chris Osment » Mon Jan 8, 2018 1:25 pm

Mike Hodgson wrote:I have been given to understand some boxes changed from frame at front to frame at back or vice versa simply because the frame needed to be replaced for whatever reason and there was room to do the work while continuing (presumably at considerable inconvenience) to operate using the old one.


In 1949 the 'front' frame at Wells 'A' (S&DJR Priory Road station) was replaced by a 'rear' frame. A S&T technician who worked on the job recalled that, when levers in both frames were reversed, they 'crossed over' each other! Certainly a case more of 'considerable inconvenience' rather than 'room to work' :-)

There were certainly a few signal-boxes on the S&DJR with rear frames in the late 1870s but, in the absence of actual photographs, it is possible that they were more in the nature of basic huts to cover the frame initially. A 'hut' signal-box with a rear frame (of just 4 levers) was installed at Burnham date unknown pre-1900, but probably 1880s. Their first 'proper' rear frame box was the 1907 replacement at Radstock West. Curiously when Moorewood was opened in 1914 the structure plans showed a front frame, but in fact a rear one was installed.
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Re: Rearward facing frames

Unread postby alancolq » Tue Jan 9, 2018 5:22 pm

Am I right in thinking that by early BR days and their adoption of the LMS pattern lever frame as the "REC standard" that all new installations from say 1948-49 onwards would have had rear facing frames installed? I can't think of any BR flat-roofed "Triang-Hornby" signal boxes (LNER designed) that had front-facing frames?
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Re: Rearward facing frames

Unread postby Pete2320 » Tue Jan 9, 2018 9:22 pm

alancolq wrote:Am I right in thinking that by early BR days and their adoption of the LMS pattern lever frame as the "REC standard" that all new installations from say 1948-49 onwards would have had rear facing frames installed? I can't think of any BR flat-roofed "Triang-Hornby" signal boxes (LNER designed) that had front-facing frames?

The REC frame was indeed intended to be a "British Standard" but was introduced in name at about the grouping In fact, it was essentially the Midland Railway 4.5" pitch frame with minor alterations. However, with the exception of one supplied to the LNER by the LMS at cost price (reputedly) they were used solely by the LMS. This developed into the LMS "1943 pattern" frame which was again an improved version of its predecessor. Sometimes known as the "BR Standard" frame it saw little if any use outside the LMR but sometimes installed in non LMS boxes that had come to be in the LMR, the other regions sticking to their own favourite type (or types on the "old" ER).
Back properly on thread, I suspect you may be right regarding new post nationalisation boxes but not necessarily where reframing occurred particularly if the new frame was a different type to the original.
It will be interesting to know of recorded cases of BR built boxes with front mounted frames. The only one I can think of was Neilsons Sidings but this was a bit odd as the frame was also numbered right to left!

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Re: Rearward facing frames

Unread postby Danny252 » Tue Jan 9, 2018 10:31 pm

Pete2320 wrote: It will be interesting to know of recorded cases of BR built boxes with front mounted frames. The only one I can think of was Neilsons Sidings but this was a bit odd as the frame was also numbered right to left!

It seems the WR was happy doing its own thing (quelle surprise!) and there are examples of front-mounted frames into the 1960s. BR-era boxes such as West Drayton [West] (1960), Maidenhead (1963), and Wootton Basset Incline (1953) are shown as front-mounted frames on the available diagrams/resignalling notices. It seems that boxes of Type 17 and 37 ("Plywood Wonders"), such as Exeter City Basin (1962), Acton Yard(1959) and Acton West (1968), were when the WR finally relented and installed rear-facing frames.
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Re: Rearward facing frames

Unread postby Mackay » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:22 am

Hard to answer the original question "which was the first SB to have a frame facing the rear". Certainly the NER favoured facing the tracks, and those facing the rear were highly unusual (for sighting, or structural reasons like a cantilever cabin). So much so that on at least one contemporary diagram (Shincliffe, 1904) it actually states "Signalman when working this Frame stands with his back to the Railway". The first frames facing the rear ("approximating to a standard" in Jamie's words) on the LNER NE Area seem to have been in WW2, such as Skelton (1941; admittedly a special design but sighting was certainly better with the frame at the back). "ARP" or "Austerity" designs such as Monkton Moor and Goldsborough (both 1942) also had frames facing the rear. From the mid 1940s when frames were replaced the box structure was very often changed to allow the new frame to face the rear; this generally meant replacing the fireplace with a stove at the front. NE cabins treated this way can often be identified on photos by the stovepipe.
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Re: Rearward facing frames

Unread postby Alan Norris » Wed Jan 10, 2018 1:26 pm

Pete2320 wrote: The REC frame was indeed intended to be a "British Standard" but was introduced in name at about the grouping In fact, it was essentially the Midland Railway 4.5" pitch frame with minor alterations. However, with the exception of one supplied to the LNER by the LMS at cost price (reputedly) they were used solely by the LMS. This developed into the LMS "1943 pattern" frame which was again an improved version of its predecessor. Sometimes known as the "BR Standard" frame it saw little if any use outside the LMR but sometimes installed in non LMS boxes that had come to be in the LMR, the other regions sticking to their own favourite type (or types on the "old" ER).

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I'm pretty sure I've seen a 1943 pattern frame in Scotland, but I'm damned if I can remember where!
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Re: Rearward facing frames

Unread postby John Hinson » Wed Jan 10, 2018 1:48 pm

Alan Norris wrote:I'm pretty sure I've seen a 1943 pattern frame in Scotland, but I'm damned if I can remember where!

Aberdeen South, perhaps.

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Re: Rearward facing frames

Unread postby Chris Osment » Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:05 pm

Danny252 wrote:
Pete2320 wrote: It will be interesting to know of recorded cases of BR built boxes with front mounted frames. The only one I can think of was Neilsons Sidings but this was a bit odd as the frame was also numbered right to left!

It seems the WR was happy doing its own thing (quelle surprise!) and there are examples of front-mounted frames into the 1960s. BR-era boxes such as West Drayton [West] (1960), Maidenhead (1963), and Wootton Basset Incline (1953) are shown as front-mounted frames on the available diagrams/resignalling notices. It seems that boxes of Type 17 and 37 ("Plywood Wonders"), such as Exeter City Basin (1962), Acton Yard(1959) and Acton West (1968), were when the WR finally relented and installed rear-facing frames.


But IIRC the 1954 Portishead 'modern' box was a rear frame.
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Re: Rearward facing frames

Unread postby JRB » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:42 am

Could it be related to box design being taken from the S&T and given to the regional architect? I remember this causing some upset.
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