Monday, 21 November 2011

Traffic Movements at Deepfields, 1964 (Part 1)

There's an introduction to Deepfields box (with a signalling diagram) here and more detail here.

Deepfields, Saturday 17th October 1964

Back to Deepfields and it's clear this box cannot survive for much longer. The satellite interlocking Relay Room was structurally complete some months ago but now Point Machines are being fitted to the Loop points and a two-lever Ground Frame is being erected by outside contractors to control the crossover road. However, we open up as normal and take on our first train - the Up Crewe. The Sulzer-hauled train drifts by with the driver leaning out, interested in the activity, a 5-coach rake with the Palethorpes' vans which are now serviced at Birmingham. I notice the rear cab door is swinging open so we send 'Stop and Examine' to Bloomfield.

The train stops at Coseley & Deepfields station and, apparently, the door is shut there. When stopped at Bloomfield, the Guard is irate - "Why didn't yer stop us at Coseley?". But Coseley station has a well-observed tradition of not answering the telephone. Until recently, the question of a diesel locomotive door open and whether this required the use of the 'Stop and Examine' was in some doubt. My friend Tom raised this question with the Signalmans' Inspectors and, because of the danger of a member of the engine crew having fallen out, a memorandum was issued confirming that the use of the '7' was correct.

After this brief excitement, we settle down to the day's work. About three gangs of men are working outside, each with their attendant 'Look Out' and it gets quite noisy. Without a word, the signal wire to the Down Line Detonator Machine is severed with two sharp hammer blows. Until we confirm just what has been disconnected, Tom and I discuss which of the Down signals will fail to operate! The gang then set about re-siting a chain wheel and re-connecting the ‘shot machine’. During this work, they inadvertently slip the chain off the wheel on lever 3 so that the next time I try to pull off, the lever jams hard half-way through the stroke. After I complain, the men run around, putting things right.

At 9.7 a.m., ‘55’ is offered up the Loop, followed by the diesel parcels unit up the Main. A freight for ‘The Vale’ is approaching on the Down and here we make an error of judgement. We pull off for the Up Parcels, but he stops for 20 minutes in the platform at Coseley dealing with parcels traffic. During this time, ‘55’ is held in the Loop and the down freight stands main line, waiting for the Loop to clear. Eventually, we send the down freight on the main line to Spring Vale, Austerity 90377 hauling lime, sintered iron ore and ingots loaded on BBCs. Spring Vale gets a bit confused by the change, offers him forward as a ‘4’ and pulls his ”back ‘uns”! Eventually, the parcels unit clears and ‘55’ starts away, a ‘Class 8’ tender-first with empties, lime wagons and oil tanks.

The Barnt Green – Blackpool special 1T06 roars past on the Down with ‘Black 5’ 45006 bound for the bright lights! The Stockport Parcels coasts by with a ‘Type 4’, two ‘BG’ and a 4-wheel van. A ‘Class 9’ rattles past uphill, going to work the Albion tanks. He whistles imperiously at the gangs working near the line.

‘T37’ is reported ‘off the road’ at Bescot but ‘61’ comes down and rumbles into the loop, in the teeth of the following Down Manchester. There are two more trains to come ‘off the top’ at Tipton but Bloomfield wants to close. He agrees to wait for the first train (‘80’, double-braked) but decides that the second must ‘take its luck’. We keep Deepfields open so that we can turn ‘80’ down the Loop. Then we let Bloomfield close and afterwards close ourselves.

After we close, the two o’clock down rushes past behind a ‘Sulzer’. The 5-coach Up express is being handled by a ‘Type 4’ which rushes past at about 60 m.p.h., horn sounding, then brakes hard for the 15 m.p.h. slack on the other side of Deepfields station. A freight (‘90’?) clanks down behind a ‘Black 5’, double braked with various open wagons and oil tanks. Another ‘Class 9’ hurries past with its fully-fitted load of Gulf Oil tanks for Albion. Finally, I wonder who was the joker who wrote in the dirt on a ‘Class 8’ tender “H.M.S. ROCKER”?