Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Signalling on the former Cheshire Lines Committee in the 1950s


The Railway Signal Company, located in Fazakerley, Liverpool supplied the signal boxes and signalling equipment when the Cheshire Lines Committee (CLC) was opened. The Railway Signal Company became part of Westinghouse in 1920 and finally closed in 1974. Some of the company records are preserved in the National Archives as detailed here.

However, the CLC always had a distinctive approach and this was no less true of its signalling installations. The CLC set up signalling workshops in Warrington and became self-sufficient.

The CLC lower quadrant semaphore signals featured large spectacle glasses and the CLC even contrived some odd-looking upper quadrant signals using parts for the lower quadrant signals! In a post about signalling in Burma here I was rather unkind about their use of lower quadrant arms on upper quadrant signals - perhaps I now know where the idea originated.

Glazebrook East Junction in 1962 showing a CLC upper quadrant bracket signal. The left doll is for Manchester, the right for Skelton Junction and Stockport. The two miniature arms read to sidings. Today, the signal has gone, the sidings have gone, the branch to Skelton Junction has gone. The main line and the British Railways Standard signal box remain. (From a photo by G. H. Platt)

Not much of this interesting legacy survives today and my recent dash around the system in the rain described here no doubt missed any signalling 'jewels' which remain. I'm afraid it's mainly British Railways Standard signal boxes and colour light signals now and, of course, the lines that remain are much simplified and many signalboxes have been abolished.

Pre-grouping railway map showing Cheshire Lines Committee routes

The principal CLC routes were:-
1. Liverpool Central to Manchester Central via Warrington Central.
2. Chester to Manchester Central.
3. Halewood/Hunts Cross to Southport Central via Aintree.
4. Glazebrook to Hyde Jn./Godley Jn. via Stockport Tiviot Dale.

Click for larger view. On the above map, CLC routes carry the colours of all three partners:-
Great Northern Railway - Brown
Great Central Railway - White/Red
Midland Railway - Green

Signalling on the CLC in the 1950s

In the 1950s, the CLC routes were mainly controlled by semaphore signals, manual signal boxes and Absolute Block Signalling (although Brunswick had a 45-lever frame plus a small 'NX' control panel and Manchester Central was a Power Box). Nowadays, with many of the lines abandoned and the remaining routes simplified, it's hard to imagine the complexity of the British Railway system even as late as the 1950s. The signal boxes operating on the CLC network in the 1950s are detailed in the John Swift collection (see the section 'Track Diagrams' below) and are listed below.

1. Liverpool Central - Manchester Central
Liverpool Central
Garston Central
Hunts Cross West Jn.
Hunts Cross East Jn. (controls a triangular junction with Southport Line - see 3 below)
Halewood West Jn. (Goods Lines only)
Halewood East Jn. (controls a triangular junction with Southport Line - see 3 below)
Hough Green Jn.
Widnes Moor Lane (on Loop Line)
Widnes Central (on Loop Line)
Tanhouse Lane (on Loop Line)
Widnes North
Widnes East Jn.
Sankey Jn.
Bewsey (on Loop Line)
Warrington Central (on Loop Line)
Workshops (on Loop Line)
Padgate Jn.
Risley West
Risley East
Risley Moss
Dam Lane Jn. (Note A)
Glazebrook West Jn. (Note A)
Glazebrook East Jn. (Junction for Stockport Line)
Trafford Park
Trafford Park Sidings (Goods Lines only)
Trafford Park Jn. (Note B)
Throstle Nest East Junction (Note B)
Cornbrook Sidings (Chester Lines)
Old Trafford Jn. (Chester Lines)
Cornbrook West Junction
Cornbrook Jn. East (LNW Tappet Frame controlling Oxford Road Lines)
Manchester Central (Power Box with Colour Light Signals)
Note A: Dam Lane Jn. and Glazebrook West Jn. control a triangular connection with the GCR Branch to Wigan:-
Glazebrook Moss Jn.
Newchurch Halt (Box Closed)
Lowton St. Marys Jn. (Note C)
Bickershaw Jn.
Bickershaw & Abram
Hindley South (Junction for LNWR Bickershaw Jn, Amberswood West Jn. & Amberswood East Jn.)
Lower Ince
Wigan Central Goods Yard
Note B: Trafford Park Jn. and Throstle Nest East Jn. control a triangular junction with a branch serving both GCR and MR lines:-
Throstle Nest South Jn.
Chorlton Jn. (Junction for MR Withington & West Didsbury)
Wilbraham Road
Hyde Road Jn. (controls a triangular junction with Gorton Jn. and Fairfield Jn. on the GCR Manchester - Sheffield line)
Note C: Junction for St. Helens
Edge Green and Golborne Colliery Sdgs. Haydock Park Racecourse
Ashton in Makerfield
St. Helens Central
2. Chester Northgate to Manchester Central

Chester South Jn. (controls a triangular junction with the GCR lines on the Wirral)
Chester East Jn. (controls a triangular junction with the GCR lines on the Wirral)
Mickle Trafford (Junction with the LNWR/GWR line from Chester to Warrington)
Barrow for Tarvin
Mouldsworth Jn. (Junction for Helsby-Hooton line)
Winsford Jn. (Junction for Winsford & Over
Hartford Jn. (Junction for Hartford Jn. LMS
Hartford & Greenbank (controls a triangular junction at Hartford North Jn. with Oakleigh Sidings
Hartford East Jn. (controls a triangular junction at Hartford North Jn. with Oakleigh Sidings
Sandbach Jn. (controls a triangular junction with the line to Sandbach).
Northwich Central
Northwich East
Lostock Gralam
Halford Hall (Closed)
Plumley West
Knutsford West
Knutsford East
Shaw Heath
Altrincham South
Altrincham North
Navigation Road
Deansgate Jn. (Junction for Skelton Jn.)
Timperley Jn. (Junction for Deansgate Crossing)
Mersey Bridge
Warwick Road
Old Trafford
Old Trafford Jn. (Next box Cornbrook Jn. West. Junction for Castlefield Jn.)

3. Halewood/Hunts Cross to Southport Central via Aintree

Hunts Cross East Jn. & Halewood East Jn. made a triangular connection with the CLC Southport Line. Southport Lord Street and the northern part of the line was closed to traffic in 1952.
Halewood North Jn.
Knotty Ash
West Derby
Fazakerley South Jn. (Note D)
Fazakerley North Jn. (Note D, also junction for MR branch to Langton Dock)
Aintree Central
Southport Jn. Closed
Sefton and Maghull
Altcar & Hillhouse
Hillhouse Jn. (Junction for Downholland)
Ainsdale Beach
Birkdale South
Southport Lord Street
Note D: Fazakerley South Jn. and Fazakerley North Jn. made a triangular connection with the branch to Huskisson:-
Fazakerley West Junction
'Jutland' comments on the signal box controlling Southport Lord Street as follows:-
The signal box opened on the 1st September 1884 and was of Railway Signal Company design. It had a brick base and wooden upper portion and contained a 42 lever Railway Signal Company lever frame. The Railway Signal Company, located in Fazakerley, supplied all the signal boxes and signalling equipment for the opening of the line only, all subsequent signalling equipment was supplied by the Cheshire Lines Railway, from their Warrington workshops, until 1937. At some stage Lord Street Station Signal Box received a replacement 42 lever Cheshire Lines lever frame. The signal box closed on the 25th September 1949 and was replaced by a short-lived LMS type 11c signal box.
4. Glazebrook to Hyde Jn./Godley Jn. via Stockport Tiviot Dale
Partington Jn. (Junction for Manchester Ship Canal Lines)
Carrington Sidings
West Timperley
Skelton Jn. (Junction for Warrington LNWR and Altrincham MSJ&A)
Northenden Jn. (Junction for Cheadle Goods Yard)
Cheadle West
Cheadle Jn. (Junction for Cheadle Heath North Jn.)
Heaton Mersey West Jn.
Heaton Mersey East Jn. (Junction for Heaton Mersey Station Jn. GCR/MR)
Georges Road Jn.
Stockport Tiviot Dale
Brinnington Jn. (Junction for Reddish Jn.)
Bredbury Jn. (Junction for Romiley Jn.)
Woodley Jn. (Junction for Romiley Jn.)
Apethorne Jn. (Note E)
Hyde Central (then Hyde Jn. GCR)
Note E: Branch from Apethorne Jn. to Godley Jn. GCR
Brookfold Lane
Related posts on this site

The Cheshire Lines Committee.
The Cheshire Lines Committee Routes Today.

Related articles on other sites

Signal boxes of the Cheshire Lines Committee (The Signal Box).
Cheshire Lines Committee Signals (The Signal Box).
CLC Block Instruments (The Signal Box).
CLC Signalboxes (The 8D Association).

Railway Books

[1] 'Railway Stations in the North West' by Gordon Biddle, published by Dalesman Publishing Co. Ltd. (ISBN: 0 85206 644 9).
[2] 'Lost Railways of Lancashire' by Gordon Suggitt, published by Countryside Books (ISBN: 9 781853 068010).
[3] 'An Illustrated History of Liverpool's Railways' by Paul Anderson published by Irwell Press (ISBN 1-871608-68-6).
[4] 'A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: Volume 10 The North West' by G. O. Holt, revised Gordon Biddle published by David & Charles (ISBN: 0946537 34 8).
[5] 'The Heyday of Steam around Manchester' by Tom Heaviside published by Ian Allen Ltd. (ISBN 0 7110 2329 8).
[6] 'An Illustrated History of the Cheshire Lines Committee' by Paul Bolger published by Heyday Publishing Company (ISBN 0 947562 00 1).
[7] 'The Cheshire Lines Committee: Then and Now' by Nigel Dyckhoff published 1984 by Ian Allen Ltd. (ISBN 0 71101410 8).

Track diagrams

The CLC in the 1950s:-
'British Railways Layout Plans of the 1950s: The John Swift Collection' Vol 13: Cheshire Lines Committee and associated Great Central Lines', published by the Signalling Record Society (ISBN 1 873228 17 1).

The lines remaining today:-
'Railway Track Diagrams: Book 4 Midlands & North West', published by TRACKmaps (ISBN 978-0-9549866-7-4).