Welwyn Garden City box 1974

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Mickey
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Welwyn Garden City box 1974

Post by Mickey » Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:00 pm

Here are two good photographs of Welwyn Garden City s/box that were taken in July 1974 just over two years before the box was finally closed in September 1976. The box at the time of these photographs being taken had a NX panel that faced the main running lines that had been installed and commissioned the previous September of 1973 that replaced the two older lever frames the box had previously had. The first lever frame nearer the door as you walked into the box was the small 20 lever 'Luton frame' then after a small gap there was the 85 lever 'main lever frame' with both lever frames being located at the rear of the box facing away from the main running lines.

http://photos.signalling.org/picture?/1 ... /1894-1974

http://photos.signalling.org/picture?/1 ... /1894-1974

"I was a telegraph lad at the box between July 1972-March 1974 after which the position of telegraph lad was abolished."

Mickey

harvester
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Re: Welwyn Garden City box 1974

Post by harvester » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:18 am

Another world Mickey

Mickey
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Re: Welwyn Garden City box 1974

Post by Mickey » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:18 pm

To right harvester I was a youngster of 15 in the summer of 1972 and just out of secondary school learning from signalmen who had themselves been on the railway since the mid 1930s and in Cecil White's case the third regular signalman at Welwyn Garden City since the mid 1920s.

Here is a nice picture of Hatfield No.2 that was taken possibly on the same day as the two pictures that were taken of Welwyn Garden City although if the date is correct being July 1974 from vague memory I believe Hatfield No.2 may have closed around April/May 1974 so the box in the picture may have already closed but I am not totally sure about that?.

Also from vague memory the small temporary NX panel installed in Hatfield No.2 that lasted for only around one year was situated at the north end of the box where many of the windowpanes can be seen painted out. Hatfield No.3 once stood behind the photographer almost directly opposite Hatfield No.2 although Hatfield No.3 closed back in November 1969.

http://photos.signalling.org/picture?/1 ... /1897-1975

Of note is the blue set of non-corridor inner suburban stock (block ender stock) seen standing behind Hatfield No.2 and it wasn't uncommon to usually see two maybe thee sets of ECS in the Up sidings being stabled overnight in the Up sidings and during the weekends back in the early/mid 1970s before the electrification switch on. The ECS was used for the morning peak hour services into Kings Cross and Moorgate via the Widened and returned on the evening peak hour services again from Kings Cross and Moorgate via the Widened lines.

Mickey
Last edited by Mickey on Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mickey
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Re: Welwyn Garden City box 1974

Post by Mickey » Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:00 pm

From memory and for the record when the NX panel was brought into Welwyn Garden City box which was sometime around July/August 1973 approximately 6 weeks before the commissioning weekend in late September 1973 there was no formal training for any of the regular signalmen at the box or for any of the relief signalmen who were expected to work the NX panel as well on the first Monday morning after the commissioning weekend?. From memory I do remember a S&T installer saying to one of the regular signalmen to "Have a play on it to get use to it" other than that piece of advice there was no formal training involved unlike what would happen on todays railway where signalling staff would spend several weeks on the training simulator.

Mickey

Dave Cockle
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Re: Welwyn Garden City box 1974

Post by Dave Cockle » Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:36 pm

Micky,

I was at Hertford North when the 65 lever frame was taken out and a OFS panel installed on 18.07.71. The late Tim Hatton, District Inspector, came down to Hertford North on the Friday before the changeover from 13:00hrs to 15:00hrs. The late turn signalman was booked on an hour earlier at 13:00hrs and given an hours tuition on the panel, which was in the relay room. The early turn signalman was given an hours overtime until 15:00hrs and likewise given a training session on the panel. Just like the signalmen at Hatfield No 2 training was limited.

Some months after the panel had been commissioned a fault was discovered by accident. The calling on aspect to the signal controlling the entry to station on the down would automatically clear if the function switch was left "off". A relief signalman was on duty when there was ECML diversions and the trains started blocking back with the three mile auto section between Molewwod Tunnel (North End) and Watton-at-Stone not helping. There was a ballast train for Hitchin stood at the signal north of Hertford N waiting for the previous train to clear Watton-at-Stone and the relief signalman had his feet up on the table reading a paper. A deltic hauled express had proceded towards the down main platform in response to the calling on aspect (two white lights & a letter "D" in the theatre indicator) to see the stationary brake van of the ballast train half way down the partly occupied platform. The driver sounded his horn and stopped at the box to ask what the hell was going on. As the relief man had been engrossed with his newspaper he had not actually observed what had happened and at first thought the deltic driver had SPADed the signal. The signalman took the drivers word about receiving the calling on aspect and later on in his shift recreated the scenario. The calling on aspect was found to clear automatically with the signal section occupied if the function switch was left off.

This was against signalling principles and not a desirable situation. It had not been picked up during the signalling testing procedures when the panel was commisioned. The controls were quickly changed after this incident to prevent the signal clearing automatically to a calling on aspect. The function switch had to be restroked in order to get a calling on aspect.

Mickey
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Re: Welwyn Garden City box 1974

Post by Mickey » Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:44 am

Interesting Dave I presume something was either overlooked at the design stage or during the installation and testing stage of the new signalling equipment?.

Nowadays probably since the Clapham accident back in 1988 installing and testing of new signalling equipment is a lot more thorough these days than it had been previously because back in September 1973 when Welwyn Garden City was re-signalled the whole process took around 36 hours to complete starting around 2:00pm on the Saturday afternoon when WGC box was 'temporarily closed' while inside the box the two old lever frames (20 levers of the 'Luton frame' + 85 levers of the main frame) were removed along with the long block shelf, block instruments & track diagram and the floor boarded up where both lever frames had been while the new NX panel was fully unwrapped from it's protective cover, tested and commissioned by the S&T signal engineers working inside the box and also in the WGC relay room during the Saturday afternoon and evening meanwhile outside down on the track signal arms, ground disc signals and signal posts were removed while at the same time the new multi-aspect colour light signals had there 'box covers' removed and were illuminated. Also believe it or not while the commissioning process was going on I vaguely recall that BR still ran a limited passenger service during the Saturday afternoon and evening and also during the Sunday with local trains starting and terminating at WGC on the slow lines while WGC box was still in effect closed which was done by 'ticket working' forward from Hatfield No.2 into WGC station after which the trains (DMUs) were crossed over to the Up side and started from the Up slow line platform for there journey back up towards Hatfield and eventually Kings Cross.

Mickey

Gra
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Re: Welwyn Garden City box 1974

Post by Gra » Sun Feb 25, 2018 12:29 am

Mickey - The photo dated July 1974, do you think that date is correct? Judging by the upright to the right of the box it looks like electrification work has begun.

Gra

Mickey
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Re: Welwyn Garden City box 1974

Post by Mickey » Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:39 am

The short answer Gra is I don't know if the July 1974 date is correct?.

The photo was definitely taken sometime after the NX panel had replaced the lever frame in September 1973 because the connection from the Down slow to Down fast line that was immediately outside the box and that you could look down onto the facing end of the points from the box window has been removed and the track has been plain lined plus the point rodding that belonged to that associated connection has also been removed as well. With regards to the signal wires and point rodding 99% of all of it all came out from underneath the back of the box over looking what was in the late 1960s and early 1970s the town centre car park and main bus station and is nowadays the Howard Gate Centre.

In the other photo of Hatfield No.2 which appeared to be taken by the same photographer and which could have been taken on the same day as the two photos of WGC in 1974(?) I thought Hatfield No.2 closed sometime around April or May 1974(?) although 40+ years on I can't actually recall the exact closure date for that box but I am quite sure it wasn't there and still working as late as July 1974 because when I left WGC box in March 1974 I vaguely remember WGC box was just about to work with New Barnet North Box as the next box south of WGC.

Back to WGC box and in slightly later photos that were taken inside WGC box that feature the NX panel that are on this forum on other topic threads those photos show home made curtains that have been hung along most of the box windows anyway I do remember a rather attractive looking woman maybe in her early 40s(?) showing up at the box one morning shortly after the lever frame was removed to measure up the windows for the curtains which I believe she was actually going to make herself for the box anyway in the two photos of WGC on this thread it looks like a temporary solution to the sunlight problem was found by covering some of the clear window panes with brown paper?.

Gra
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Re: Welwyn Garden City box 1974

Post by Gra » Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:28 pm

Here's a link to a photo which is claimed to have been taken on 19 August 1974:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/91977133@N04/27052703564

There are several detail differences between the photos including chimneys on the roof and no cables on the brickwork. It also looks as if a concrete base is in place for the upright shown in your photo.

Gra

Mickey
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Re: Welwyn Garden City box 1974

Post by Mickey » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:00 am

I'll have a look at the link Gra when I'm on a PC that hasn't got restrictions on access to certain websites on it.

Yes I also noticed the two chimneys have gone in the photos because there was two separate fireplaces in the box while the lever frames were still there because one fireplace was located roughly opposite where the 'Luton frame' ended and the 'main lever frame' of 85 levers began and a second fireplace was located roughly opposite where the levers 70-75 were in the main lever frame.

Also shortly after the installation and commissioning of the NX panel in September 1973 a temporary partition of heavy duty plastic sheeting was hung from the ceiling roughly cutting the inside of the box in half this was done to try and keep the box a bit warmer for the signalman on duty. A proper more permanent partition was eventually built although I can't remember exactly when it was but I guess it was probably sometime during the early part of 1974?. The proper partition was built of wood with a door in the center of it to allow access to the far end of the box as well as to use the inside toilet that was located at the extreme north end of the box. The wooden partition door had a small square glazed window built in it.

Also of interest in the two photos is 'the join' in the brickwork where the original box was extended at some unknown date (after the 1935 crash) note the difference in the colour of the brickwork?. Personally I always thought the north end of the box was the original part of the 1926 box but that's only a guess on my part I don't know for definite if it was possibly someone mite know for sure?.

Mickey

Mickey
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Re: Welwyn Garden City box 1974

Post by Mickey » Mon Feb 26, 2018 5:20 pm

I liked Welwyn Garden City box especially when the lever frame was still there it was a "signalman's signal box" and the story went something like "It sorted the men out from the boys" and even several relief signalmen kept away from it altogether!.

Mickey
Last edited by Mickey on Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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StevieG
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Re: Welwyn Garden City box 1974

Post by StevieG » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:10 pm

Couple of quick points on WGC box Mickey.
The 'Luton frame' had only 19 levers; first two un-umbered, for the Down & Up side (not necessarily in that order) mechanical lifting barriers for the barrow crossing; then L1 - L17.
Second, box seems likely to have been extended twice, having had (IIRC) a 65-lever frame at the time of the '30s collision (no Up yard and the Hertford and Luton lines were plain lines straight through, with Distant, Home and Starter each way. Then presumably extended for the additional 20 levers, and again when the Luton frame was installed.
BZOH

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Mickey
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Re: Welwyn Garden City box 1974

Post by Mickey » Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:44 am

With regards to when the box was extended so you believe it may have been extended twice Stevie that's interesting. I presume that the north end was the original part of the box but I don't know that as a fact.

Mickey
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Re: Welwyn Garden City box 1974

Post by Mickey » Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:44 pm

Just a year before 1974 during most of 1973 I was at the box before and during the time of the construction of the 'Welwyn flyover' which from memory commenced about the spring of 1973 and was basically finished by the end of the year with ballast and track laying work taking place very early in the new year of 1974.

Construction work on the flyover was usually carried out during Monday-Friday weekdays between 10:00-16:00 which required the Up slow line to be taken possession of by the engineers on site with ALL southbound traffic heading along the Up fast line towards Hatfield which meant the few trains that departed from the old no.4 'back platform' couldn't while the Up slow line was blocked between 10:00-16:00. As the 'box lad' I didn't work at weekends because there was no real requirement to have a lad on duty doing the booking so I am not certain (or can't remember?) if construction work on the flyover took place on Saturdays as well?.

Anyway 43 years later the Welwyn flyover is still there...

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