THE SIGNAL BOX

MUSEUMS & PUBS

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MUSEUMS & PUBS

with signalling equipment on display

This section comprises a listing of museums and pubs that contain signalling equipment. They are listed by county for easy reference. Overseas museums appear at the foot of the list.

Every location listed here has signalling equipment of one sort or another on public display. This may be just a single item, or a whole hall full. A guide to this is given in the text, although bear in mind that displays may be changed at any time.

If the equipment on display is not original, for example fibreglass replicas in pubs, this will be mentioned in the text, but it doesn't necessarily mean the place isn't worth a visit.

Preserved railways are not listed here for their operational equipment. However, if they have separate displays of signalling equipment. . . well, that's different.

There must be many more museums and pubs to add to this section - can you help?


UNITED KINGDOM

Buckinghamshire

Bekonskot Model Railway, Beaconsfield Not a museum as such, but the model railway which runs throughout this open air site is fully signalled and track circuited. It is controlled from what is called "Maryloo" signal box. Although not open to the public there is a clear view of the Westinghouse "L" miniature lever frame that once graced Purley box (together with an ex-London Transport "N" frame not currently in use) and illuminated Southern Region-style diagram . Much of the signalling works automatically when staff are not available. The model village itself is long established and although primarily for toddlers and young children, adults are kept amused by the puns and the detail that is incorporated everywhere.
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, Quainton Road A small museum display includes and extensive range of rule books, and a small selection of signalling equipment, including a pair of telegraph instruments from the Brill Tramway, a block bell from Northolt Junction West and a Metropolitan Railway block bell.

 

Cheshire

Crewe Heritage Centre, Crewe
and
Exeter West Group, Crewe

Crewe North Junction signal box, with 214 lever Westinghouse power frames. Demonstrations available. Relay room also accessible, and ground floor contains signalling displays and "hands on" exhibits.

Crewe Station "A" signal box, containing L&NWR power frame

Exeter West signal box, with 131 lever frame. Open on selected weekends with simulated operation. Owned and managed by the Exeter West Group.

The Rising Sun PH, Wistaston Green Located on the A530 between Crewe and Nantwich, Cheshire, there is just one signalling item to be seen here. A lower quadrant stop signal will be found in the garden by the main road. When installed, around 1989, it was fitted with a modern electric motor, operated from the pub. Using this the licensee would pull the signal off when open and return it to 'on' at closing time. It hasn't been seen in operation recently.

 

Conwy

Conwy Valley Railway Museum, Bettws-y-Coed

Contains an American Union Switch & Signal Co. Miniature Staff instrument, and two signal box diagrams - Menai Bridge and Severn Bridge Junction, Shrewsbury.

 

Cumbria

Dent

A collection of (mostly) vintage farm equipment alongside the road in the village of Dent includes an upper quadrant signal mounted on a Midland Railway wooden post.

Ribblehead Station

Heritage centre shop has signal box diagrams for Ribblehead and Blea Moor on display.

Settle Station

The preserved Settle Station signal box is open to the public at limited times (at time of writing on Saturdays). There is also a preserved upper quadrant combined home and distant signal on a Midland Railway wooden post (although the arms are closer spaced than would normally be found).

 

Derbyshire

Derby's Museum of Industry and History

Includes a small Midland Railway signal box made up from various sources, with the lever frame from Gorsey Bank level crossing. Several box diagrams are displayed, too.

 

Devon

Instow signal box

The preserved signal box at Instow, North Devon, is regularly opened to the public. Opening hours are detailed at their web site.

 

Durham

North of England Open Air Museum, Beamish

In and amongst the other buildings of a town street, colliery village, farm and manor, a representative NER station has been constructed. An actor mans the signalbox and describes to visitors the principles of interlocking and pulls levers to operate those signals close to the box. He gives demonstrations of the block system and is available to answer other visitors' questions. The signalbox is a replica of Carr House East, and contains the original frame from that box, although it is not actually interlocked. For those interested in industrial heritage generally, one day is insufficient to investigate the whole museum site.

 

Edinburgh

National Museum of Scotland

The museum includes a few items of signalling interest, seemingly placed randomly. Exhibits include a bracket signal fromn Stirling and a NBR Block Instrument - oddly parked with telegraph and telephone equipment (which includes a splendid Cooke & Wheatstone instrument).

 

Essex

East Anglian Railway Museum, Chappel & Wakes Colne

This Essex location (previously known as the Stour Valley Railway) has three signalboxes on site - the original cabin remains on the platform and is non-operational, allowing visitors to look around and pull levers - explanatory information is provided. On the museum's track, Chappel North (from Mistley) is manned on operating days, but Chappel South (ex-Fotherby, Lincs.) is generally worked as a shunting frame but is sometimes manned to demonstrate the use of bells and train staffs.

Mangapps Railway Museum, Burnham-on-Crouch

Contains possibly the largest collection of signalling instruments on public display. An entire carriage is devoted to the display of block instruments from all parts of the country, many of which are connected and operational.

Signal boxes from Berney Arms and Haddiscoe Junction

Signalling diagram from Liverpool Street West when closed in 1949.

McKenzie & Holland lever frame from Southminster box.

Many signals, including pre-grouping types.

 

Gloucestershire

GWR Museum, Coleford

Situated in part of the former goods yard (the remainder of the station site being a small shopping centre and free car park, so it's easy to find), the museum preserves the Goods shed full of railwayana particularly related to the railways of the Forest of Dean. Emphasis is very much on signalling equipment- the owner is a former local S&T lineman. Cogload signalbox has pride of place outside the Good's Shed but renamed Coleford and having the frame from Shelwick Junction. The locking is appropriate to the box diagram and the visitor encouraged to operate the box, the owner giving instruction to, or reminiscing with, the visitor as appropriate. An enthusiast keen to demonstrate his collection with others who appreciate it.

Could combine visit with Dean Forest Railway whose museum at Norchard also has some signalling equipment.

Winchcombe Railway Museum

Garden containing railway relics, in particular cast notices and signalling equipment, but with some covered accommodation for indoor exhibits. Very little is in glass cases- the visitor is encouraged to operate everything. Most of the signals operate from various ground frames dotted around the garden. Block bells and block instruments of various types are wired in pairs, so it could be noisy if busy. A LMR frame (Midland rocker, catch handle locking) in simulated signalbox- the locking can be seen operating as you pull the levers. An enthusiasts collection for other enthusiasts; most equipment is labelled with its origin, but no attempt to explain to the layman.

Ideal to combine visit with Glos & Warwicks Railway, but note that its station is about a mile from town centre and this museum is on far side of town centre. (Interesting town to investigate if other half not into railways).

 

Greater London

Coopers P.H., Euston

Coopers run a number of pubs at railway stations, although few contain railwayana.

The branch just outside Euston station is liberally littered with railwayana, including signal box diagrams, nameboards and signal repeaters.

The Flag & Whistle P.H., Lambeth Road

A few genuine signalling items, with some nice contemporary railway photographs including signal box interiors, telegraph instruments and track diagrams.

Science Museum, London

In early 1999, the transport gallery, the former home of Haddiscoe Junction signal box was found to be closed to the public for major refurbishment, and appears as though it will remain so for some considerable time. The only signalling items now on display consist of the following in a display case in the telephone section.

  1. a Cooke & Wheatstone 5 needle telegraph instrument dating from 1837
  2. a Cooke & Wheatstone (Electric Telegraph Company manufactured) single needle telegraph instrument dating from 1846
  3. a Cooke & Wheatstone (W.Reid Mechanist manufactured) 2 needle telegraph instrument dating from 1842

Haddiscoe Junction signal box has now been sold to Mangapps Railway Museum (see above) but it is believed that the McKenzie & Holland frame has been retained by the Science Museum.

Tower Bridge, London

This was once a signalling installation, but not railway signalling. The Saxby & Farmer lever frame operated hydraulically and controlled river signals and possibly also semaphore road signals in early days. The equipment room is just part of the visitor area; these days the bridge is electrically operated from an electrical control centre.

Please see our Branch Lines pages for photographs and a description of the equipment

Traveller's Rest, Kenton Full of railwayana, including signals. All are fakes.

 

Greater Manchester

A635, Ashton-under-Lyne

Not a museum as such (nor a pub or restaurant!) but there is a nice Midland Railway lower quadrant combined home and distant signal alongside the eastbound carriageway of the A628 at Ashton-under-Lyne. As it has been carefully positioned to be in full view of motorists, we'll class it as on public view!

This is one occasion where you will be allowed to pass a signal at danger!

Station buffet, Stalybridge The station buffet, which dates back to the 1880's, contains some memorabilia, including a Midland Railway distant arm, an LMS disc signal and a box nameboard from Aldam Junction.

 

Gwynedd

Narrow Gauge Railway Museum, Towyn

Contains a quantity of interesting signalling equipment, including:

  • Saxby & Farmer Rocker frame from Church Crossing, Chattenden & Upnor Railway
  • 2-lever ground frame from crossing keeper's cabin on County Donegal Railway
  • Signals from Manx Northern Railway, with counterbalance levers and windlass for operation
  • County Donegal Railway signal from Stranorlar
  • Unusual signal from Chattendon & Upnor Railway
  • Ex-Metropolitan Railway arms as subsequently used by Chattendon & Upnor Railway
  • Chattendon & Upnor Railway mechanical point indicator
  • Level crossing signal from Durnpike, Penrhyn Quarry Railway
  • Festiniog Railway rotating disc signal
  • Somersault signal from an East Midlands ironstone line
  • Collection of staffs, from Chattenden & Upnor Railway, North Wales NGR (Wise's Patent Staff), Londonderry & Lough Swilly Railway, Welsh Highland Railway, Corris Railway etc.
  • Electric Train Staff, Token and Tablet instruments
  • Train staff tickets from the Isle of Man
  • Train Staff & Ticket box from West Carbery Tramways & Light Railway Co.
  • Various wooden cased signal and lamp repeaters.

 

Hampshire

Romsey signal box

Romsey signalbox, now relocated and restored within the grounds of a school.

 

Hertfordshire

St Albans South signal box

The St Albans Signal Box Preservation Trust has been setup by volunteers to restore and preserve the signal box as part of our railway and architectural heritage before the ravages of time takes its toll.

Restoration of the box is progressing steadily, but at present it is only occasionally open to the public. One occasion will be during the National heritage weekend of 8th and 9th September 2007.

 

Kent

The Old Station, Tunbridge Wells West

A Beefeater built into the old ticket office and buildings. Contains the usual real and simulated "Collectors Corner" relics.

 

Leicestershire

The Pullman P.H., Old Dalby

Restored Station on the Midlands Test Centre. Viewing platform nearby to watch the Pendelino flash by!

Station Museum, Loughborough

The Museum on platform one at the preserved Great Central Railway station has various bits and pieces of signalling equipment, including a lever frame and also an original diagram from a GC box in the area (toward Nottingham), together with some block instruments.

Further details are awaited.

 

Norfolk

Mid-Norfolk Railway, Dereham

Some signalling equipment is on display in the entrance hall at Dereham station, together with some items in the small relics museum which are mostly scheduled to be restored to operational condition as and when the line is resignalled. Two tablet instruments are on display in the entrance hall - a Tyer's No.6 from Pampisford and an older type of unknown origin. An enamel GER nameboard from Trowse Lower can be seen, together with a rare Metropolitan Railway ground signal which is rather far from home.

North Norfolk Railwaya, Sheringham Some signalling equipment is on display in Sheringham buffet. Weybourne station features working GNR somersault signals. Sheringham East 'box (M&GN structure) is displayed on the station platform and is not an operational cabin.

 

Northamptonshire

Rushden Historical Transport Society, Rushden

This museum covers various types of transport, and includes some items of signalling equipment.


Northumberland

Heritage Centre, Bellingham

The heritage centre (based at the old station) includes a comprehensive display about the stations on that line, including some signalling items such as tickets from Staff & Ticket working, Tablet pouches and a NBR signal. A photographic display includes veiws of most of the signal boxes and a searchable photographic database is available from which pictures may be purchased.

 

North Yorkshire

Flag & Whistle P.H., York

This pub is situated in the City of York, on the road out towards Huntingdon, and located near a closed station. It has a home signal outside, beside the road.

It has not yet been investigated to see if any items are on display inside.

The Head of Steam P.H., Scarborough

A branch of this chain exists in the station buildings at Scarborough. Mostly non-signalling railwayana, apart from some lever badges and a signal box nameboard.

National Railway Museum, York

The National Railway Museum in York has a large range of signalling equipment displayed.

  • There is a working Highland lever frame in Magician's Road (the children's interactive learning centre).
  • Borough Market Jn. SB occupies a brick plinth in the South Yard. Visitors can look inside by prior arrangement, or by contacting the Information Point or Explainer Staff during a visit. If someone is free to take you in "on spec" they will gladly do so.
  • A gantry of GW lower quadrants graces the Great Hall. This is actually the (West) Ruislip Up Outer Advanced Starter gantry, although it has been modified to represent Northolt Junction West Up Homes and Down Starters.
  • A small ground frame hut houses a lever frame which releases the roller doors from the exterior rail access, and operates somersault signals reading into the building from the Railtrack sidings.
  • Three push button videos can be watched within viz. a) Night Mail, opening sequence with bell and block messages being exchanged b) A 1950's training film shot around Reading? & Church Fenton, c) Carstairs resignalling.1970's.
  • Nearby are two demonstrations of facing points, one worked by lever frame, including "swinging" fouling bars on the switch blades, the second being motor operated by an SGE HB machine.
  • Fully working demonstrations of GW ATC and BR AWS, including on-track plus train-borne bogie and cab equipment can be viewed, and are occasionally demonstrated
  • The former L&Y training model railway layout is now restored and is demonstrated at times - mostly at weekends.

The new Lottery-funded gallery "The Works" opened in 1999 features an external viewing balcony, looking out over the north end of York station. A hot link to York IECC shows operations progressing, and a CCTV camera shows Skelton Junction in real time. A replica mechanical signal box is connected to a computer simulator so that staff can demonstrate block and lever sequences, and two specially-made brass block bells can be operated by visitors. A series of story boards and exhibits from the reserve collection will be built up into a new gallery, which will relate the development of signalling.

The Sidings Restaurant, Shipton-by-Beningborough Some genuine signalling equipment is on display in this restaurant by the East Coast main line, just north of York.

 

Oxfordshire

Didcot Railway Museum

There are two signal boxes here, from Radstock and Frome. Radstock (representing a GWR box in the 1930s) contains a GWR double-twist frame, gate wheel for the adjoining level crossing, and appropriate bells blocks, indicators and key releases. It is open to the public on specified days, and on certain other days the boxes are actually operated for demonstration purposes.

At the opposite end of the line, Frome Mineral Junction represents a signal box in the early 1870s, with basic equipment including single-needle telegraph and Webb-Thompson staff instrument. The GW Stud frame came from Stoneycombe Sidings and controls a mixture of early signals (including a disc and crossbar, and a slotted post type) through overhead signal wires. There is no easy access to this box, but visits can sometimes be negotiated.

Apart from the boxes, there is a large amount of outdoor signalling equipment to be seen, much of it rare

Hook Norton Village Museum

Hook Norton Brewery has a visitor centre. Hook Norton Brewery Visitor Centre gives access to Hook Norton Brewery Museum. Hook Norton Brewery Museum gives access to Hook Norton Village Museum.

Hook Norton Village Museum contains the H.N. S,B. nameplate, diagram, an ETT instrument containing a H.N. to Bloxham token and assorted S & T hardware.

Pendon Railway Museum, Long Wittenham A collection of signalling equipment is housed in a mock-up signalbox to demonstrate working practices. Also not to be missed is a fully signalled model railway that forms just part of a massive model country scene of the past. This is in the process of being automated to work with computers making real-time regulating decisions on behalf of absent signalmen.

 

Pembrokeshire

Scolton Manor Country park, near Clarbeston Road

Sarnau signal box exists as part of this folk museum complex.

 

Renfrewshire

Museum of Transport, Glasgow

Amongst the other exhibits, a fair amount of interesting signalling equipment is displayed. To be found are a G&SWR lower quadrant T-bracket signal from Fairlie Pier, a LNER/RSCo ground disc signal, a Glasgow Underground 2-aspect colour light (part of the mock-up underground station), a G&SWR block inscribed "Dumfries South" and a Caledonian instrument (inscribed "Midcalder"). Smaller equipment includes a brass-cased semaphore signal repeater inscribed "Up distant 12", a Tyer's wooden-cased semaphore slot repeater inscribed "Slot of Aberdeen North", and a 'SYX' wooden-cased battery operated mercury time switch. Single line equipment consists of a wooden train staff from the Dundee & Newtyle Railway, a brass train staff inscribed "Tay Bridge Train Staff" with clip for holding ticket, a brass train staff inscribed "Ballochney Branch" with key end and a brass train staff inscribed "Drumburgh Junc & Port Carlisle". Photographs of the last two items appear on page 131 of "LNER Constituent Signalling".
The Museum is currently (2010) closed, with the intention of re-opening on a new site in 2011.

 

Ross & Cromarty

RSPB, Forsinard

The RSPB Centre at Forsinard is housed within the station building. Inside, on public view, is the two-lever Dutton frame which controlled the starting signals as per Highland Railway practice.

 

Somerset

Washford Station

Replica Somerset & Dorset signal box, located on West Somerset Railway.

 

South Yorkshire

The Sidings P.H., Doncaster

This is a new pub but built with old materials. located quite near the railway yard to the south of Doncaster station. There are many signalling items inside which appear to be genuine even if some of them are mounted upside down. The collection of wagon and bridge plates are fake but the LNER east coast mile posts are real enough.

 

Staffordshire

Foxfield Railway Museum, Blythe Bridge

This general railway museum includes some items of signalling interest - notably an original Tyers one-wire three-position block instrument of the North Staffordshire Railway, as well some original 'egg cup' NSR lever collars.

 

Surrey

Great Cockrow Railway, near Chertsey

All manner of signalling in operation, ranging from full size ex-Midland mechanical locking frame operating semaphores, to Westinghouse L miniature lever frames with 2/3/4 aspect colour lights complete with route indicators and flashing aspects. Signalboxes not officially open to the public, but most can be seen and block bells heard. Good view of all the lineside signalling from the intensive miniature train service, incredible how much railway packed into the available space and the short headways that can be achieved. Open summer Sunday afternoons only, best to arrive early before 14:00 to beat the queues.

Close to M25 J11 but don't expect it to be signed even once you've arrived (planning permission prohibits advertising apparently). Initially dual carriageway towards Woking, right onto A320 past St Peter's hospital, then left B386 extremely briefly, immediate right up Hardwick Lane. Anonymous entrance on right after few hundred yards after riding stables. If road crosses motorway - you've missed it!

 

Tyne & Wear

The Valley Junction 397 Restaurant

This Indian Restaurant is housed in a mock signalbox and an adjacent carriage. Recommended by one of the visitors to this site for the cuisine, irrespective of the accommodation!

 

West Yorkshire

The Head of Steam P.H., Huddersfield

In the west wing of Huddersfield station, which was once described as "..a stately home with trains.." There is much railway memorabilia on the walls and it's all for sale too. There is a bay window which fronts out onto the platform and there are even tables on the platform so you can sit and watch the trains go by and drink a decent pint at the same time.

 

Wiltshire

Steam, Swindon

This rather trendily-named museum is what is known better to many as the GWR Museum in Swindon, and has some exhibits that have little to do with steam power.

Included in the displays are a few early signals, including some of the disc and crossbar type. There are also some model signals on show.

 

Worcestershire

Kidderminster Railway Museum

A large collection of single line instruments, including Webb-Thompson large and small staff instruments (from the UK and Egypt), Tyer's No.6 and No.7 Tablet instruments and GWR key tokens plus Gangers Occupation Key equipment. Most are operational and can be demonstrated.

Dutton & Co. lever frame from Rogart (Highland Railway) has been re-erected and can be operated by visitors.

Display showing development of telegraph and telephony communication.

Displays of tokens, tablets, staffs, signal arms and finials.

The museum also has a large library, archive and photographic collection, accessible by prior arrangement.

Note - Northern Ireland is grouped with the Irish Republic below as their signalling systems are more closely related than with that of the UK mainland.


OVERSEAS

Australia

Claremont signal box, Western Australia

Claremonts signal box has been restored and is open to the public on special dates. Access is from the station footbridge at Claremont.

Merredin Railway Museum, Western Australia The closed elevated signal box at Merredin station is available for access by visitors. The box diagram has faded and is virtually unreadable, and no explanations or descriptions of the equipment are provided. There are semaphore signals nearby, too.

 

Austria

Eisenbahn Museum, Knittelfield

This railway museum includes a display of signalling equipment - with two working frames with block which can be worked under supervision. There is also a full-size barrier to be worked and more signalling equipment is being prepared for display.

 

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Railway Museum, Tai Po Market

Hong Kong Railway Museum is an open-air museum located in the centre of Tai Po Market.

The museum have various signalling items on display, including semaphore signals, a ball token instrument, a double-wire frame and many photographs.

 

India

National Rail Museum, New Delhi

India has a rather good collection of not only signalling gear (such as Neale's Ball-Token instruments) but also other railway paraphernalia and documentation and general railway displays such as the world's oldest working steam locomotive in a sprawling 10 acre site at Chanakyapuri

 

Irish Republic & Northern Ireland

Headhunters Barber Shop & Railway Museum

A range of signalling equipment on display including a complete set of Great Northern Railway (Ireland) signalling staffs from the Enniskillen - Bundoran line and the Derry Road. Also signalling equipment from the Sligo, Leitrim & Northern Counties Railway including the staff and ticket box system and a selection of block instruments and repeaters. In addition visitors can also see a signal lever frame, signal arm, block instruments, repeaters, bells and associated items of signalling . . . and get their hair cut too!

Hell's Kitchen Pub and Raiway Museum, Castlerea Run by Sean Brown, this museum and pub contains the largest collection of train staffs known of in the Irish Republic.
Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, Cultra The Irish Transport Museum has, amongst its many exhibits, a lever frame, some instruments and a few staffs.

 

Japan

Tokyo Transport Museum, near Akihabara

A selection of signals are on display at this museum, with descriptions in Japanese only.

 

The Netherlands

Utrecht Railway Museum

The former Maliebaan station has been converted into an interesting museum unusual in that there is a level crossing over an open railway line linking the two sides. Well worth a visit to see the range of historic locomotives and rolling stock (several British built of mid 1800s, replica 1.95m 1830s train etc). In particular, the signalbox has been restored and is demonstrated whilst actually being used to signal the standard gauge tram loco and coach which provide a short out-and-back round trip around the site. Signalling basically follows German practice of early years of 20th century with signals and points operated via vertically operated levers and wheels, the interlocking being via mini locking levers that engage in the wheel's circumference. A free-standing exhibit shows how both the mechanical locking and electrical release from neighbouring signalbox are implemented and at least some of the staff speak excellent English.

 

Sweden

Banmuseet (Museum of Rail & Track), Ängelholm

This museum has three semaphores of different types, together with some more modern signals. There is also a quantity of signal box equipment of various types on display.

 

USA

Illinois Railroad Museum, Union

Included amongst this mueum's exhibits are a range of signals which were, in 2002, in the process of being labelled.

Railroad Mueum, Conneaut This museum has an old ball signal on display, like the one surviving example at Whitefield.
Railroad Museum, Monticello This museum has a nicely restored Hall "banjo" signal on display.

 

With thanks to Tim Barrett, John Batts, Martin Bond, Shaun Burnley, Sarah Canham, Donnacha Cronin, Nick Crosby, Richard Cullen, Peter Davies, Tim Dunn, Subhasis Ganguly, Kevin Hampton, Dave Harris, David Ingham, John Ingham, Helena, Paul Hepworth, Richard Huss, Simon Lowe, Steve Luxton, Andy McKenna, Harald Mueller, Frank Paterson, Richard Putley, Colin Reid, Jim Smith, J R Smith, Bob Taaffe, Mike Tyrrell, Geoff Walker and Peter Woodbridge.


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