NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE BOARD
Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd
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26 March 2018
67 015 brings the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead past Rhyl Signalbox on 22 June. Days later the box was yet another redundant but heritage listed asset. Picture by Tim Rogers.
From 26 March, the signalboxes at Rockcliffe Hall, Holywell Junction, Talacre, Prestatyn, Rhyl, and Abergele and Pensarn are closed, with signalling and points on the section of line between Shotton and Llysfaen now under the control of a person at 'Rhyl Workstation' - a computer terminal in the Operating Centre in Cardiff. Our contributors have been out and about to record the doomed boxes; we'll leave other subjects to the next update.
Our thanks and best wishes for the future go to all the signallers who have to put up with people constantly photographing their workplace. We understand that there will be no compulsory redundancies resulting from these closures.
A visit to Abergele and Pensarn box - pictures by Ian Wilson
As Network Rail employee, Ian Wilson was given permission by the Area Manager to visit Abergele and Pensarn box on 22 March. This box has appeared in very many pictures over the years, thanks to conveniently-located bridges, good views from the station platforms, and semaphore signalling. Suitably attired and briefed on the official 'walking route', Ian climbed the stairs into the 1902-built box. As we mentioned last time, it is a listed building, and a few years ago when- like many other boxes- it was being refurbished, care was taken to keep its classic London and North Western Railway (LNWR) window styling, and an replica of the 'original' name board was created father than the modern typographical disasters seen elsewhere. The word 'original' is not quite accurate, as the LNWR put a nameboard, of a different style, only on the front of the building; the version used here was inherited from the Midland Railway after the 1923 merger known as the 'Grouping'. The idea, surely a sensible one, was to allow the crews of passing trains to see the name.
The other end of the box, viewed from the 'walking route.
The singaller's view towards Colwyn Bay, and the facilities; the signaller is on duty throughout the shift; meals must be taken when convenient. At the end of the frame are three of the few levers of what was originally a 60-lever frame. The yellow one is for the Distant signal which gives advance notice to drivers; it will it will only be cleared if the line is clear through the section of line controlled by the box. Its handle has been shortened to remind the signaller that it is an electric colour-light (or electric motor-driven semaphore) signal and does not require the strong pull needed to move a signal worked by wire and pulleys. Levers working power-operated points receive the same treatment. Most Distant signals (the ones with yellow arms), which are often over half a mile from the box, have been replaced by colour lights as the mechanical versions could require considerable strength and technique to operate.
The signaller's 'keyboard' - the lever frame and block shelf. White paint indicates a lever not in use and disconnected. The half-white ones out of use but still connected to the interlocking equipment on the ground floor of the box.
The diagram showing which lever which works which point, signal or other device. Since the loop line was taken out of use, there are no points to work; once there were four tracks through the station with sidings, crossovers and a goods yard.
Lever 25, painted blue operated a 'facing point lock' which, according the the standard policy, had to be replaced to normal before lever 26, which worked the points leading to the loop, could be moved. LNWR frames are instantly recognisable by the 'stirrup' handles which have to be pushed down to raise a catch allowing the lever to be moved, avoiding accidental movement. To hands are thus necessary to operate the lever; other companies used a device similar in working to a bicycle brake lever, behind the handle. Lever 25, like its adjacent point lever 26, has had its stirrup removed.
The 'block instruments' are British Railways standard versions. Note: the (simplified) signalling technicalties in this item are our responsibilty, not Ian's - any comments or corrections welcome.
The view towards Chester.
The 'Notice Board.'
Ian photographed a couple of trains while at Abergele: 43 013 and 43014 power the New Measurement Train.
67 015 propels the 13:06 Holyhead - Manchester.
The first days of the new
By Saturday 24 March, while no trains were running, the new colour light signals were in use, presumably for testing ...
... and the semaphore arms had been removed. The signal lights for formed from a matrix of LEDs, able to display any of the required colours (Greg Mape).
'Armless' ... the junction signals (right) have separate posts rather then two 'bracketed' on one post, as was traditional. To avoid confusion, it was decided to put a white horizontal bar across between the two posts. (Greg Mape). The posts will no doubt be removed at a later date.
26 May, and everything seems to have gone smoothly: 67 015 passes Abergele with the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead. Picture by Andrew Sumner.
The signalbox, empty and forlorn, faces an unknown future (Roly High). The stubs of the platform loop line have not been removed, contrary to our prediction in the last issue.
Prestatyn signalbox last day - report by Jim Coates.
150 255 at Prestatyn working the last eastbound train to be controlled by Prestatyn signalbox, 1K96 19:34 Llandudno - Crewe.
221 111 worked the last Virgin westbound service, 17:10 London Euston - Holyhead
82308 / 67 018 Had the honour of being the last ever train to be controlled by Prestatyn box, which was not staffed for the full day.
R.I.P Prestatyn Signalbox 1897-2018.
Lament for Coast signalboxes - pictures by Tim Rogers
Holywell Junction, 19 March, with 175 002 working 1V97 14:34 Holyhead to Cardiff Central.
Rockcliffe Hall signalbox, 21 March.
Prestatyn, 20 March.
Rhyl (formerly Rhyl No.1), 22 March.
Still standing, although disused for years, is Rhyl No.2 box; the signals are were controlled by its eastern sister. This large box built in 1900 had 126 levers, while Rhyl No.1 had 90. These listed Rhyl boxes could (in theory) have access from the street, but what alternative use could be devised?
Abergele, 20 March.
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