THE NORTH EASTERN RAILWAY 1901/1902 STANDARD SIGNAL BOX OF THE SOUTHERN DIVISION ENGINEER W.J. CUDWORTH


Introduction: -

During the late 19th century the North Eastern Railway was divided in to three operating divisions; the Southern Division, comprising most of the company's territory in Yorkshire, the Central Division, comprising mostly of the lines of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, which merged with the N.E.R. during the early 1860s and maintained a degree of autonomy for around a decade afterwards, and the Northern Division, comprising the company's territory in County Durham, Northumberland and Cumberland. Eventually, during the early 20th century, the Central Division was abolished, with its territory being split between the Northern and Southern Divisions.

Each division supported its own civil engineering department headed by a Divisional Engineer and despite the existence of a Company Architect's Office followed different styles with little input from it when it came to the Divisions building their signal boxes.

The very earliest buildings associated with operating signals and points were literally huts to shelter the employees who worked the nearby levers. Buildings which housed the levers appear to be at several sites by the mid-1850s but it is the mid-1860s before the first pioneer interlocking installations appear in new construction. Government pressure for installing block signalling with interlocked signals and points grew following several fatal accidents and by the end of the 1860s it was evident that both block signalling and interlocking would have to be adopted across the company network.

Southern Division Signal Boxes: -

The Divisional Engineer tasked with overseeing the first generation of interlocking signal box construction across the Southern Division was Charles Cabry, who retired in 1874. His successor was Harold Copperthwaite, who remained in office until retirement in 1899. Copperthwaite's successor was William John Cudworth.

C. Cabry produced the first standardised design of signal box though it was associated with the period preceding block signalling. To assist modellers in the modern era the term "Type S0" has been adopted by the authors of the 2016 N.E.R.A. Book " A History of NER Signalling" for these early Cabry cabins. Variants are designated Type S0a, S0b, S0c and S0d. These were not terms used at the time in the Divisional Engineer's office. The terms "Signal Box" and "Signal Cabin" are interchangeable.

H. Copperthwaite was in office when the first signal boxes to incorporate Block Signalling were constructed on the Southern Division. These are now designated as Type S1, though back in the 1870s they were merely the Southern Division's "Standard Cabin", despite varying greatly in size.

Design features of this (mostly) brick built standard design were gabled roofs, horizontally opening sash windows which were typically larger than those found on type S0, and corbelled out corner piers. Most examples were built by contractors but certain parts of the boxes were supplied by the N.E.R. The interlocking frames were supplied by a range of signalling contractors and most were subject to changes throughout their working lives. The NERA Book authors describe Type S1a signal boxes as having corbelled out corners and stepped gable brickwork. Type S1b signal boxes are smaller low-level boxes lacking the corbelled corners and stepped gable brickwork. Full height signal boxes lacking the stepped brickwork and corbelled out piers are Type S1c cabins. Signal boxes to designation Type S1d are assigned to signal boxes of the Copperthwaite period which diverge from the Southern Division standard cabin in one or more ways.

W.J. Cudworth, on taking office, initiated changes to modernise the Southern Division Standard Signal Box. It is now not clear whether the Type S2a signal box or Type S3a signal box came first, since the construction dates of each type are so close. It may be that the Type S2a and Type S3a signal boxes are evolutions in Cudworth's requirements condensed in to a short time span after more than two decades of divisional stability. What is clear is that each is (for the time) a lighter, more modern building than the preceding Type S0 boxes of the mid-19th century and Type S1 boxes of the late 19th century. The principal difference between the Type S2a and Type S3a are the glazed toplights of the S3a along with higher gutter edge to the roof compared to the Type S2a.

By the later part of the first decade of the 20th century Cudworth had evolved the Southern Division "Standard Cabin" a stage further, with what is currently designated the Type S4 signal box. The glazed toplights of the Type S3a were abandoned, perhaps due to glare or a “glasshouse” effect causing overheating during the summer months.

However, the Type S3a had a final “hurrah” with the 1910 build of Whitby Bog Hall signal box. However, at some point after construction, the box’s glazed toplights were painted over.

The ultimate expression of Cudworth’s Type S4a signal box was the extremely long 1909 Locomotive Yard Signal Box at the southern end of York station. At building it housed the largest mechanical lever frame in the world.

The Type S3a Signal Box

Type S3a version 3A

The first Signal Box we built to the Type S3a design of 1901 was HILLAM GATES, which we have designated as Type S3 version 3. This is due to the existence of two Type S3a signal boxes which are currently considered as "early" Type S3a signal boxes, at CRIMPLE JUNCTION and LEEDS CROSS GATES. Both precede the construction date of HILLAM GATES. They have locking room windows which conform to Type S2a but with operating floor and roof designs conforming to Type S3a. They could be type S2a-type S3a hybrids indicating a distinct step between the two types but for simplicity they are classified as early Type S3a. At the time of authorisation and construction each would have merely been a "Southern Division Standard Cabin".

HILLAM GATES was built circa 1903, replacing a small box built during 1873. The construction is associated with the N.E.R. quadrupling part of the "Old Main Line", the former York & North Midland Railway route between Normanton and York. Until 1923 the N.E.R. timetable referred to this line as "The Main Line" despite the fact that ECJS services between London Kings Cross and Scotland had been running along the G.N.R. between Doncaster and York since the mid-19th century!

The quadrupling of the former Y.&N.M.R. took place between Burton Salmon Junction and Milford Junction as well as between Church Fenton and Chaloner's Whin Junction. The signal box was a crossing box, supervising a road which crossed the railway on the level between Monk Fryston and Burton Salmon stations. This means that in addition to wheels operating the crossing gates the box had a rear facing window to permit the signalmen to observe road traffic approaching on Betteras Hill Lane from the east, which was from the rear of the box. Back in 1903 the speed of the approaching road traffic was as fast as a horse could travel hauling a cart or a rider travelling on horseback. On the 1906 OS map, to the north of the crossing on the east side of the line was a trailing connection to a siding, which served a tramway to the Plaster Works at nearby Lumby Hill. It is not clear when the plaster works ceased trading.

The box at HILLAM GATES survived until 1982, when colour light signalling was installed along the former Y.&N.M.R. and the level crossing replaced by automatic barriers. However, in 1934 the original 29 levers of the 1903 box were reduced to 13 and the box re-designated as a gate box.

Type S3a version 3B

The Signal Box inspired by the Type S3a design built at BOG HALL JUNCTION near Whitby we have designated as Type S3 version 3B. BOG HALL JUNCTION was built during 1910 in the style of Type S3a despite W.J. Cudworth already building new boxes elsewhere to Type S4a. The reasons for him reverting to a superseded eight-year-old design are unknown. The door was at the opposite end to that on HILLAM GATES box. At some point after construction, certainly by BR days, the top light windows were painted over. The box was situated at the point where the line from the terminus at Whitby Town diverged, one branch climbing to Whitby West Cliff while the other proceeded along the Esk valley towards Grosmont. With the line to West Cliff being a single line Bog Hall box was the tablet exchange point. The landing on the access ladder up to the operating floor appears to be built specifically to facilitate this exchange.

Like HILLAM GATES box, BOG HALL JUNCTION controlled a level crossing. There was a window in the rear wall in order that the signalman could observe the road behind the box. However, the crossing appears to have been used infrequently, since the lane beyond was only a few yards long before steeply descending to a ford which crossed the River Esk. I believe that the signalman was supplied with tide tables, which indicates that the ford could only be waded at low tide. The box was disused by 1970 and later demolished. A crossing remains, but only with pedestrian access. The ford across the River Esk is also gone.



kuid2 _86627_100156_1. NER_Type3_ signal_box_scenery

Picture of kuid2  _86627_100156_1. NER_Type3_ signal box scenery

kuid_ 86627_100498. NER_Type3_3A_ signal_box_V2_enhanced_scenery

Picture of kuid2_ 86627_100278_1. NER_Type3_3A_signal_box_enhanced_scenery

kuid _86627_100505. NER_Type3_3B_signal_box_V2_enhanced_scenery

Picture of kuid2_ 86627_100278_1. NER_Type3_3A_signal_box_enhanced_scenery

kuid_ 86627_100474. NER_Type3_5A_ 1930_V2_signal_box_w_int_scenery

Picture of Evilcrow UP Challenger 3939

Note each signal box has three versions.

The scenery one has blank windows.

The enhanced version has an interior with a man who is configured in the config.txt file. The man is culled in TS12 but not in TANE or TS19.

The V2 version uses a blender mesh man who is culled correctly in TANE and TS19. The V2 versions have lower machine impact than the simple enhanced version but you can't change the man in the config.txt file.