Keith Challen

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Mickey
NER J27 0-6-0
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Keith Challen

Post by Mickey » Tue Jul 30, 2019 10:09 pm

Following on from a post on another topic thread enquiring about Keith Challen who was a onetime telegraph lad at New Barnet North Box in the late 1960s and who was also a signalman in the London area at Holloway North Down during the first half of the 1970s.

I knew Keith slightly around the 1974-75 period although we weren't friends as such but we knew each other when I was a secondman at Kings Cross during 1974-75 era along with several other secondmen who all lived in Welwyn Garden City at that time including Keith as well. Keith left the signalling grade and became a passenger guard on the Kings Cross suburban lines out to Welwyn Garden City & Hertford North I presume due to the impending closure of the last remaining mechanical signal boxes between Holloway & Wood Green during 1975-76 but after late 1975 I left the railway (before re-joining again in early 1979) and never saw him around again.

A photograph of Holloway North Down box https://433shop.co.uk/index.php?route=p ... uct_id=848 taken what looks like shortly after closer in August 1976 with the multi-aspect colour light signals in the photograph bearing K prefix plates although the photograph says 1973. It looks like one of thesignalmans photos that I found on ebay. On a personal note I visited the box for an hour or so in 1972 I believe it was?.

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thesignalman
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Re: Keith Challen

Post by thesignalman » Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:42 am

Mickey wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 10:09 pm
A photograph of Holloway North Down box https://433shop.co.uk/index.php?route=p ... uct_id=848 taken what looks like shortly after closer in August 1976 with the multi-aspect colour light signals in the photograph bearing K prefix plates although the photograph says 1973. It looks like one of thesignalmans photos that I found on ebay. On a personal note I visited the box for an hour or so in 1972 I believe it was?.
Thanks for spotting the incorrect date quoted on that photograph of mine. Not so long ago I rediscovered my notes of photographs I took in those days and whilst I had assumed I took the picture when I worked in the area I can confirm that it was indeed 1976 which is three years after I moved away from the ER. I must have gone back specially to take the picture before the box became a pile of rubble. I will correct the date on that web page. Like you I visited North Down just once, Keith was on duty at the time - but obviously it wasn't the day I took the picture as I had thought.

Incidentally, it was Keith who I trained with when I went to Kings Cross as a telegraph boy in 1971.

Best regards,

John
"BX there, boy!"
Signalling history: https://www.signalbox.org/
Signalling and other railway photographs: https://433shop.co.uk/

Mickey
NER J27 0-6-0
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Re: Keith Challen

Post by Mickey » Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:07 am

With regards to my visit to Holloway North Down the visit to the box came about through a London relief signalman who I knew back then and who invited me to visit the box when he was on duty at it one weekday afternoon back around 1971-72 anyway from memory even though Holloway North Down was a modern looking brick & glass building (see John's photo above) I believe from memory the block shelf contained many old wooden block instruments that were mounted on it but the visit it's self is still a bit vague now some nearly 50 years on and I think I may have stayed in the box for about an hour although I didn't want to overstay my visit in case a signalling D.I. showed up unexpectedly?. To gain access to the box from street level on Holloway Road I can't remember now how I got from street level up onto the railway?.

With regards to Keith I do visually recall how he was dressed as a passenger guard at Kings Cross in 1975 where he wore a British Rail driver's cap and a British Rail locoman's small summer jacket which were quite popular with loco crews back in the 1970s along with mid 1970s wide flares (trousers) and Doc Martin boots plus he carried around a locoman's white enamel tea can with his traps (guards bag) slung over his shoulder.

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StevieG
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Re: Keith Challen

Post by StevieG » Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:46 pm

Access : At a guess Mickey, one way was up something like a narrow vehicular roadway (cobbles or setts?) rising in a southerly direction on the Down side against the side of the railway's viaduct, off Holloway Road, until reaching an open (doorless?) pedestrian doorway in the wall on the left which put you right on the cess side of the carriage sidings; turn left and walk back beside the still rising wall (the side wall of the railway's viaduct) to the sidings' exit points connecting into the two Goods roads; carry on the few yards behind the box until opposite its north end, then cross to the semi-circular external staircase up to the operating floor.
Inside, the majority (possibly all) of the Block Insts. were indeed wooden-cased - the Tyers 'F' design (same as in Fins. Park No 5; and one in Holl.South Down), which had commutators similar to the common very plain black ones by Tyres, except that they pointed vertically up when at Normal.
The bells were on a high shelf above the windows, with each bell tapper key in a more modern green metal casing down beside its Block Inst., and having a tell-tale white lamp which lit when the bell rung and stayed lit for perhaps six seconds after the last bell beat, to help confirm which bell had just rung.
The place also had the luxury of a hot water radiator heating system, and had a characteristic smell somewhat like inside Potters Bar which was not many years younger.
BZOH

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Mickey
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Re: Keith Challen

Post by Mickey » Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:02 pm

An interesting post Stevie.

The three running lines between Holloway North Down & Finsbury Park No.2 I presume were all worked under Permissive Block working being either goods roads or carriage roads.

I always liked that wooden white painted bracket post signal at Holloway North Down on the Down goods line that carried the two semaphore arms for either (I presume?) the Down goods No.1 line & Down goods No.2 line with both dolls/posts being at the same height side by side and both dolls/posts having 'top finals' (spikes) still mounted on them both until being abolished around 1976.

Until about 1967/68 when the Down slow No.2 line was abolished between Holloway South Down & Holloway North Down it was still possible to observe all three of the Holloway North Down semaphore home signals on the bracket post to all show pulled off to the clear position at the same time although it was a bit rare to see when riding on a passing Up line passenger train although I believe I vaguely recall seeing it on a couple of occasions back then. After the Down slow No.2 line was abolished between Holloway South Down & Holloway North Down around 1967/68 and the connection to the Down slow No.2 line commenced at Holloway North Down the former Down slow No.2 line home signal became the Down slow to Down slow No.2 line signal with the existing Down fast line home signal remaining the same & the former Down slow No.1 line home signal becoming just the Down slow line home signal.

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StevieG
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Location: Near the GN main line in N.Herts.

Re: Keith Challen

Post by StevieG » Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:11 am

All correct Mickey.
BZOH

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