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Forth Bridge Intermediate Signal Boxes

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

Forth Bridge Intermediate Signal Boxes

Unread postby michiel » Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:36 pm

The Railref site of the Signalling Record Society mentions two signal boxes situated between Dalmeny and Forth Bridge North, viz. Forth Bridge Up and Forth Bridge Down. No trace of any is found on the 25ins OS maps, and they are not named in the Signal Box Directory either.

Does anybody have any information on this ?
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Re: Forth Bridge Intermediate Signal Boxes

Unread postby Danny252 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:02 pm

michiel wrote:they are not named in the Signal Box Directory either.

They are in my copy - Volume 6 Scottish Region, published Nov 2012, in section G1. Both boxes are noted as being temporary and only used for a few months in 1946, and then again in 1947. No further details given.
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Re: Forth Bridge Intermediate Signal Boxes

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:38 pm

Had this been during the war I could understand there being a desire to shorten sections to expedite essential miliatry traffic, but why would temporary boxes be needed immediately post-war? SLW for overdue bridge maintenance?
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Re: Forth Bridge Intermediate Signal Boxes

Unread postby JRB » Fri Mar 16, 2018 8:54 am

I have always understood it was SLW.
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Re: Forth Bridge Intermediate Signal Boxes

Unread postby John Hinson » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:42 am

JRB - I am not sure if there is confusion here. There were boxes named Forth Bridge North & South near Dalmeny on the East Coast Main Line at the famous Forth Bridge. Both existed 1890-1979 although the South was renamed Dalmeny Station when that station opened. They prime function was to allow SLW over one track of the double line during maintenance work and I think they may be the boxes you are thinking of.

The "Up" and "Down" boxes referred to at the start of this thread are rather more intriguing as they appear to be between the North and South - which suggests they were physically on the bridge. I really haven't a clue why they would have been necessary, or indeed not combined into a single box. They can't have been for SLW as their names suggest both lines were in use. It is all very strange.

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Re: Forth Bridge Intermediate Signal Boxes

Unread postby Danny252 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:24 am

For the older North and South boxes, there have been discussions on the forum in the past about them and the SLW arrangements, but the Up and Down don't seem to have been covered at all. For reference (and the redirection of discussions on those topics!), the discussions I've come across are:
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6242&p=64770#p64770
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=7550
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Re: Forth Bridge Intermediate Signal Boxes

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:28 am

John Hinson wrote: I really haven't a clue why they would have been necessary, or indeed not combined into a single box. They can't have been for SLW as their names suggest both lines were in use. It is all very strange.

John


Indeed, you wouldn't do SLW on both lines at the same time - but if the work needed some degree of alternation of whether the Up of Down line was blocked, it would be conceivable that both boxes co-existed, but only one or the other opening as required. This is obviously very speculative but the bridge must have been seen as a sitting duck by enemy pilots. If it had suffered minor structural damage, permanent repairs might well have been deferred until after the war.
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Re: Forth Bridge Intermediate Signal Boxes

Unread postby michiel » Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:57 pm

Thanks everybody for the contributions. IMHO it would indeed be very strange, had there been boxes hanging around in the steel mesh of the bridge without ever having been photographed, and at least I have never seen one.
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Re: Forth Bridge Intermediate Signal Boxes

Unread postby Railwayman » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:36 pm

Michiel,

I have a plan. Recovered from the very back of a very deep cupboard in Dalmeny Station Box during works undertaken in 1974, I think.
I shall have to dig it out from the equally deep recesses of my garage. May take some time.
As to the lack of photographs, any attempt to take photographs on or around The Forth Bridge at that time would have resulted in serious charges up to and possibly including, treason.
The area to the west of the bridge had, at that time, sensitive Naval installations on both banks of the Forth. The bridge was guarded during the war with sentries posted, to guard the approaches.
I believe the signal boxes in question were quite visible, hiding in plain site. The Southern box was located on the Down side. It was used as the painters bothy, certainly in the 1970's. Uncertain if, after all the recent refurbishment work if it still exists in its original form.
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Re: Forth Bridge Intermediate Signal Boxes

Unread postby John Hinson » Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:46 am

michiel wrote:Thanks everybody for the contributions. IMHO it would indeed be very strange, had there been boxes hanging around in the steel mesh of the bridge without ever having been photographed, and at least I have never seen one.

No reason (and no space, come to that) for them to have been more than a small hut and a couple of levers (not necessarily inside). I think there would have been space for them on the walkway alongside the rails but photographic opportunities would have been near non-existent.

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Re: Forth Bridge Intermediate Signal Boxes

Unread postby Martin Shaw » Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:40 pm

Alexander and Nicoll records these temporary boxes open in the summer months of 1946 and 47. I have found in the National Archive for Scotland reference to drawings for work undertaken by Sir William Arrol & Co in these years, such as replacement of bearings and other major maintenance works. It is possible that this was work that was deferred until after the war. These are obviously linked but how the temporary boxes were implemented has at the moment to be speculation. That there were up and down suggest that SLW wasn't done and my thought is that short duration closures could be more easily obtained by halving the normal block section from Dalmeny Stn to Forth Bridge North. I think it likely that they were in fact the same location, with the ability to switch in and out independently on the up and down lines. Pure conjecture, but who knows.
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Re: Forth Bridge Intermediate Signal Boxes

Unread postby alancolq » Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:00 am

Hello all, just spotted this a bit late.
The boxes were the "Up Temporary" and "Down Temporary", installed as break section boxes between Forth Bridge North and Dalmeny Station during engineering work and severe speed restrictions. I have a drawing that was kindly supplied to me many years ago by the late Forbes Alexander - I will do my best to look it out. Main bearings had to be renewed on the bridge that required the approach viaducts to be jacked up and 10 or 15 mph speed restrictions imposed: the boxes were to break the section and worked absolute block on one line only to Dalmeny Station and Forth Bridge North, but not between each other. There was, however, an emergency block bell between the two temporary boxes so that obstruction danger could be sent should the need arise.

As Railwayman stated above, the Down box was in a structure on the southern side that was later used as a painters' bothy. I'm not sure about the northern (Up) box, but it was definitely located nearer the north end and was possibly a wooden hut that was later removed. The Down box contained a 2-lever ground frame for a home signal and a detonator placer; it is possible that the Up box had a 3-lever frame and had a home and starter - I'm not 100% sure but if I find my diagram it should answer this. A local relief signalman I knew in the 1970s (Russell MacKenzie) had once worked the Down box - I recall him telling me that coal and water were supplied by passing trains and that warm clothing was essential as the wind whistled in through the gaps in the metal plates that the box was made from!

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