Saturday, 29 October 2016

Railway Signalling in Britain (Index)

As this blog (like Topsy) 'just growed' the use of the 'Labels' to select a group of posts becomes less useful. The label 'railway signalling' currently produces almost 200 'hits' so I've started to add a few Index Posts to try to make life easier. It remains to be seen how effective this will be.

I've always been interesting in railway signalling so, back in 2013, I started a series of articles on Railway Signalling in Britain. The emphasis on historical systems, rather than modern practice. Progress is slow and erratic, I'm afraid, but the first six parts are available, as listed below:-

Part 1: Introduction 28-Apr-2013
Part 2 - Semaphore Signals 3-May-2013
Part 3 - Slotting 3-May-2013
Part 4 - Semaphore Signal Aspects by Night 13-May-2013
Part 5 - Signal Arm, Slot and Lamp Repeaters 23-May-2013
Part 6 - Mechanical Operation of Points 18-Sep-2014

Further topics are in preparation and, although quite a bit of work has been done, publication dates are uncertain:-

Part 7 - Train Detection
Part 8 - Colour Light Signals
Part 9 - Power Operation of Points
Part 10 - Absolute Block Working
Part 11 - Single Line Working
Part 12 - Automatic Train Control


There are also a number of articles about British signalling which don't form part of a series - more of a 'pot-pourri'. The one on Double Wire working is included because, although this is principally associated with overseas railways, Double Wire working is not unknown in Britain.

L. & N.W.R. Signal box architecture and features 16-Oct-2016
Double Wire Working of Points and Signals 29-Oct-2015
The use of Electricity in Railway Signalling 8-Oct-2015
Life in the Signal Box 20-Sep-2013
Manchester Piccadilly Station - Behind the Scenes 19-Mar-2013
The End of an Era 16-Jan-2013
A. F. Bound 3-Jan-2013
Sealed Release for Signal Boxes 24-Dec-2011
Single-stroke Bells 16-Dec-2011
Reading the Runes: Decoding Train Register Books 5-Dec-2011
The Train Register Book 29-Nov-2011
L&NWR Block Signalling Instruments 18-Jun-2008


In general (but there are no fixed rules in this blog), the above list excludes posts applying to a specific area or signal box, but there's a separate post Signal Box Posts (Index) which lists posts relating to specific locations.

Alternately, a lot of my early experiences working mechanical boxes in the West Midlands in the steam era can be traced through the introductory post Visiting Signalboxes.

Of course, an alternative way of looking for a specific topic is to use the Blogger search box and enter a word or phrase that might be included in the post, for instance 'block control'.

[Posts added 31-Oct-2016: Link to Signal Box Posts added 1-Nov-2016]

Riot of Steam



In preparing the post A Personal History of the Museum of Science and Industry recently, I discovered that, whilst my pictures of the 'Riot of Steam' event appear on the internet here, there was no report in this blog. Back in 2005, I wrote a short article about the event which appeared in 'Lionsheart', the newsletter of the Old Locomotive Committee, when I served as the editor. That article appears below.
On the 15th September 1830, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway commenced passenger operation. 175 years later, the original Manchester terminus in Liverpool Road forms part of the Museum of Science and Industry. To celebrate, the museum staged a four day gala on 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th September 2005.

If you missed it, you missed an excellent event. Well, maybe you can catch the 200th anniversary?

The working replicas of ‘Rocket’, ‘Sans Pareil’ and ‘Novelty’ were on hand, supported by the mainstay of museum steam operations, the ‘Planet’ replica. Twice a day, a cavalcade of these four locomotives was held, with an excellent and informative commentary given by Michael Bailey. For the rest of each day, ‘Rocket’, ‘Sans Pareil’ and ‘Planet’ alternated in giving passenger rides, each with its own reproduction coach (or, in the case of ‘Planet’, two coaches).

It’s hard to comprehend just how much organisation was needed to bring the whole gala together. Everybody at the museum is to be congratulated for their imagination is making it happen, providing the finance, and then providing the staff (paid and volunteer) to run the event over four days.

Particularly noteworthy was the appearance of ‘Novelty’, which lives in Sweden (Ericsson, the designer, was a Swede). Although the museum in Manchester has a non-working replica of ‘Novelty’, there is no substitute for a working locomotive (as we have commented regarding ‘Lion’ a few times). Interestingly, just as occurred at the original Rainhill trials, ‘Novelty’ was a firm favourite with the crowds. Something to do with her diminutive size and the way she dashed about. The first day of the gala was also rather wet, again, like the original Rainhill trials, I believe. ‘Novelty’ has now gone back to Sweden so who knows when there will be such a special meeting of replicas again?

Your Editor was present on each of the four days, along with OLCO member John Archer. Jan managed to drive and fire all the locomotives.

‘Lion’ was the only ‘original’ locomotive present representing the 1830s and, when not wet, Liverpool Museum allowed her to be positioned outside to provide better photographic opportunities. Charles Taylor Nobbs and John Brandrick shared the task of telling the visitors a little of the background of this remarkable survivor.


High-level view of the main 'Riot of Steam' site with (L-R) 'Lion', 'Sans Parel', 'Planet', 'Rocket' and 'Novelty'.

Exploring Britain's Railways

From time-to-time, I travel by train, sometimes for meetings, sometimes to see what remains of our railway system. There are reports of some of these trips, listed below in reverse date order, as they appear in the blog. Note that dates in the list below are original posting dates, not dates of events described.

There's no fixed format for these reports: sometimes they cover both the journey and what I did when I arrived, sometimes the journey features in a separate report. In general, posts on the railway history of geographical areas which don't involve a specific journey I've made are not included in this list (but some are, particularly when they were prompted by recent journeys). The content varies according to what caught my eye at the time, although railway operation and signalling often make an appearance.

An alternative way of looking for a specific journey or topic is to use the Blogger search box and enter a word that might be included in the post, for instance 'guildford'.

Return to Merseyside (Part 3)
Return to Merseyside (Part 2)
Return to Merseyside (Part 1)
Return to Manchester 24-Oct-16
Return to Blackpool and Fleetwood (part 2) 15-Oct-2016
By Rail to Nottingham 2-Sep-2016
Return to Blackpool and Fleetwood (part 1) 19-Feb-2016
Return to Llandudno 17-Feb-2016
Grand Central and Birmingham New Street Station 4-Feb-2016
By Train to Surrey 31-Jan-2016
Wolverhampton to Preston by rail 19-Oct-2015
Preston to Liverpool by Rail 20-Oct-2015
Visiting former 'Southern' stations in London 26-Aug-2015
By Rail to Guildford 14-Aug-2015
By Train to Irlam 7-Apr-2015
Railways around Shrewsbury 31-Dec-2014
Llandudno Railway Station 31-Dec-2014
Ellesmere Port - Helsby line 27-Oct-2014
More Merseyrail 21-Oct-2014
The Cheshire Lines Committee Routes Today 7-Oct-2014
The Great Eastern in the London Area 15-Sep-2014
Day Trip to Shipley 10-Sep-2014
Day Trip to Southport and Liverpool (Part 2) 4-Sep-2014
Day Trip to Southport and Liverpool (Part 1) 30-Aug-2014
A Trip to South Wales (Part 2) 15-Aug-2014
A Trip to South Wales (Part 1) 1-Aug-2014
Furness and the Cumbrian Coast (Part 2) 1-Jul-2014
Furness and the Cumbrian Coast (Part 1) 26-Jun-2016
By rail to Liverpool (Part 2) 24-Mar-2014
By rail to Liverpool (Part 1) 14-Mar-2014
By Rail to Chirk 12-Mar-2014
Railways around Birkenhead 28-Feb-2014
Birkenhead and New Brighton by train (Part 3) 25-Feb-2014
Birkenhead and New Brighton by train (Part 2) 20-Feb-2014
Birkenhead and New Brighton by train (Part 1) 19-Feb-2014
The Holyhead to Crewe Railway Line 14-Feb-2014
Trip to Holyhead (Part 2: Llandudno to Holyhead) 10-Feb-2014
Trip to Holyhead (Part 1: Crewe to Llandudno) 30-Jan-2014
Walsall by Rail 19-Jan-2014
Railways around Blackpool 18-Jan-2014
Railways around Morecambe 30-Dec-2013
Return to Heysham 20-Dec-2013
The Buxton Branch 26-Nov-2013
Another Saturday in Manchester 10-Oct-2013
Railways around Edge Hill in 2013 30-Aug-2013
A Busy Week 5-Aug-2013
A Saturday in Manchester 11-Jun-2013
Day Trip to Ely 5-Jun-2013
'Black 5' to Birmingham 4-Jun-2013
Liverpool Lime Street Station 28-May-2013
Clapham Junction Station, London 20-May-2013
By Rail to Manchester 19-Mar-2013
London & Birmingham in 2012 29-May-2012
Liverpool by Train 25-May-2012
A Trip to the Seaside (Part 2) 27-Nov-2011
East London Line 24-Jun-2010
Day Trip to Liverpool 24-May-2010
Redevelopment at King's Cross Station 8-Dec-2009
Brave New Railway (again) 5-Aug-2009
Crewe Station 22-Jul-2008
Halfex to Blackpool 5-Jul-2008
Stafford Station in the 'Fifties 25-Jun-2008
Birmingham Moor Street Station 1-Jul-2008
9:17 a.m. to Birmingham 9-Jun-2008
London's Terminal Stations 26-Feb-2008
My First Steam Special 17-Jul-2007
A Sunday Stroll to Stafford 19-Jun-2007


['Return to Merseyside' added: 9-Jan-2017]