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Station Masters supervising signalmen

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

Station Masters supervising signalmen

Unread postby Main Line » Sat Apr 7, 2018 2:12 pm

I have just noticed rule 17(v) regarding the duties of Station Masters:
making themselves thoroughly acquainted with the duties of the Signalmen under their control and for frequently visiting the signal boxes to maintain proper supervision over the working. They must also sign the Train Register Book below the last entry, upon each visit.


Until I read this, I had thought that signalmen were directly answerable to the DI and did not come under the authority of the Station Master. Were Station Masters fully qualified in the block regulations and able to work the signal boxes themselves if required? Also if a box was not at a station, would it still come under the authority of a Station Master?
Last edited by Main Line on Sat Apr 7, 2018 7:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Station Masters supervising signalmen

Unread postby John Hinson » Sat Apr 7, 2018 3:24 pm

I don't know what date you are talking about but yes, they had responsibilities over the signalmen's working. I'm not sure it went any further than that. There may have been occasions when they covered the box but I suspect that was extremely rare - the railways were not as relaxed as they are these days about having non-signalmen in charge of signal boxes. One notable exception was the General Strike when it seems any Tom, Dick or Harry was allowed to drive trains or work signal boxes, but many other historic records exist of signalmen requesting relief for ill health or domestic reasons having been told by the SM to remain on duty as no cover was available.

Certainly in the 1960 Sectional Appendices and many pre-nationalisation ones it was clearly shown which Station Master was responsible for any boxes not at stations.

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Re: Station Masters supervising signalmen

Unread postby Chris Osment » Sat Apr 7, 2018 6:32 pm

Main Line wrote:I have just noticed rule 17(v) regarding the duties of Station Masters:
making themselves thoroughly antiquated........


I do hope not :-)
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Re: Station Masters supervising signalmen

Unread postby davidwoodcock » Sat Apr 7, 2018 7:28 pm

Most of the old-style SMs that I knew in the early 60s (ie pre Area Managers) would have considered that they weren't on top of their job if they couldn't work any of the boxes under their jurisdiction at least as well as a GPR could. Of course, a good few had come up through the signalling line of promotion, including at least some of the most senior ones.
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Re: Station Masters supervising signalmen

Unread postby Main Line » Sat Apr 7, 2018 7:50 pm

Chris Osment wrote:
Main Line wrote:I have just noticed rule 17(v) regarding the duties of Station Masters:
making themselves thoroughly antiquated........


Corrected.
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Re: Station Masters supervising signalmen

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Sat Apr 7, 2018 8:39 pm

John Hinson wrote: many other historic records exist of signalmen requesting relief for ill health or domestic reasons having been told by the SM to remain on duty as no cover was available.


Perhaps the best known example of this was the Thirsk accident of 1892, where the signalman had been up all night trying to get a doctor to a seriously ill child, and he reported unift for work as the child had died. The SM asked for a relief signalman without explaining the problem only to be told nobody was available so he had to go on duty. He was charged with manslaughter after falling asleep and making an error with the block on being suddenly woken, resulting in a major collision, but was given an absolute discharge.
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Re: Station Masters supervising signalmen

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Sat Apr 7, 2018 8:42 pm

Main Line wrote:I have just noticed rule 17(v) regarding the duties of Station Masters:
making themselves thoroughly antiquated........

Corrected.


Perhaps you were right the first time!
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Re: Station Masters supervising signalmen

Unread postby Mackay » Sun Apr 22, 2018 4:29 pm

Mike's mention of Manor House (Thirsk) also answers Main Line's second question: Manor House was a small block post and siding nearly a mile-and-a-half south of Otterington station. However, the Manor House signalmen reported to the Otterington SM. The District Inspector of Signalmen [as opposed to the District Signal Inspector, and in those days the District Telegraph Inspector] was based at York, and he would arrange emergency relief, holiday cover etc, as well as testing the men on the rules and regulations and ensuring that they were working the cabin according to those rules. Hence the SM telegraphed the DI's office "Can you send relief to Manor House cabin tonight? Holmes' child dead". The reply was "Cannot relieve Holmes tonight" which may also indicate that infant death, tragic though it always has been, was not quite the unusual event that it is today. As Mike notes, the message from the SM didn't state categorically that Holmes was unfit for duty. Apart from the anguish of his daughter's death he had spent what should have been his rest day walking some 15 miles in search of the local doctor.
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