GN London s/boxes c1969

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Mickey
LNER P2 2-8-2
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GN London s/boxes c1969

Post by Mickey »

On the main line
1. Kings Cross 1932 box
2. Goods And Mineral Junction
3. Holloway South Down (Down lines only)
4. Holloway South Up (Up lines only) I visited the box in 1972
5. Holloway North Down (Down lines only) I visited the box twice in 1971 & 1974
6. Holloway North Up (Up lines only)

On the Canonbury lines
7. Finsbury Park no.1
8. Ashburton Grove I visited the box in 1971
9. Finsbury Park no.2 (Mainly the Down lines but signalled train onto the Up Canonbury Goods line)

On the main line
10. Finsbury Park no.3 (Down lines only) I visited the box in 1972
11. Finsbury Park no.4 (Up lines only) I visited the box in 1971
12. Finsbury Park no.5 (Down lines only) I visited the box in either 1971 or 1972?
13, Finsbury Park no.6 (Up lines only) I visited the box either in 1971 or 1972?

On the Edgware branch
14. Finsbury Park no.7 I visited the box soon after closure around late 1970

On the main line
15. Harringay (passenger) I visited the box in early 1973
16. Harringay Up Goods (Mainly the Up lines but could signal trains from Harringay Up Goods across the Harringay flyover in the Down direction across the the Harringay flyover to Ferme Park North Down)
17. Ferme Park South Down (Down lines only) I visited the box after closure in 1971
18. Ferme Park North Down (Mainly the Down lines but could signal trains from Ferme Park North Down across the Harringay flyover in the Up direction across to Harringay Up Goods)
19. Hornsey no.1 (Down lines only) visited the box in 1971
20. Hornsey no.2 (Up lines only)
21. Hornsey Up Goods (Up Goods no.1 & no.2 lines and Hornsey carriage sidings)
22. Wood Green no.1 (Down lines only) I visited the box either in 1971 or 1972?. The large semaphore signals gantry at Wood Green no.1 was still in operation at the time of my visit
23. Wood Green Up Box no.4 (Up lines only)
24. Wood Green Up Box no.2 (Up lines only)

On the Hertford Loop
25. Bounds Green
Original start date of 2010 on the LNER forum and previously posted 4500+ posts.
Mickey
LNER P2 2-8-2
Posts: 932
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:27 am
Location: London

Re: GN London s/boxes c1969

Post by Mickey »

A number of box closing dates from memory although these box closing dates can be found elsewhere on line.

1967
1. Copenhagen Junction
2. Ferme Park South Up (This box may have closed in 1966 but I recall seeing it standing redundant circa June/July 1967)

1968
1. Belle Isle Up
2. Stevenage South

1969
1. Hatfield no.3
2. Ferme Park South Down

1970
1. Holloway North Up
2. Finsbury Park no.7
3. Oakleigh Park
4. New Barnet South Box

1971
Kings Cross 1932 box

1972
1. Marshmoor

1973
1. Harringay (passenger)
2. Hornsey no.2
3. New Southgate
4. Cemetery
5. Hatfield no.1
6. Welwyn North
7.Woolmer Green
8. Knebworth

1974
1. Finsbury Park no.1
2. Ashburton Grove
3. Finsbury Park no.3
4. Finsbury Park no.4
5. Finsbury Park no.5
6. Hornsey no.1

1975
1. Goods And Mineral Junction
2. Holloway South Up (I think?)
3. Finsbury Park no.6
4. Ferme Park North Down
5. Potters Bar
6. Hatfield no.2
7. Hitchin Yard (I think?)
8. Hitchin South (I think?)

1976
1. Holloway South Down
2. Holloway North Down
3. New Barnet North Box
4. Welwyn Garden City

I can't exactly remember when the following boxes closed

1. Finsbury Park no.2 maybe in 1975?
2. Harringay Up Goods maybe in 1975?
3. Harringay Up Goods either in 1975 or 1976?
4. Wood Green no.1 either in 1974 or 1975?
5. Wood Green Up Box no.4 maybe in 1975?.
6. Wood Green Up Box no.2 maybe in 1974?
7. Stevenage North maybe in 1974?
8. Langley (Junction) maybe in 1975?
9. Cambridge Junction maybe 1976?
Original start date of 2010 on the LNER forum and previously posted 4500+ posts.
Mickey
LNER P2 2-8-2
Posts: 932
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:27 am
Location: London

Re: GN London s/boxes c1969

Post by Mickey »

A hour spent one weekday afternoon visiting Finsbury Park no.4 back in 1971.

The box had a Dutton lever frame but I forget how many levers it held but at a rough guess I would say it had around 45-50 levers maybe?. Also the block instruments may well have been all GNR wooden instruments on the block shelf?.

From vague memory of visiting the box just over 50 years ago the inside of the box in broad daylight was still rather dim I recall and covered in shadows. From memory the B.R. lino floor was polished up with bees wax like many box floors were back then but I believe I recall seeing an old 'large pattern carpet' that was covering the floor and placed in front of a large section of the Dutton lever frame(?) also I recall the single needle telegraph instruments were 'tinkling out' Morse code messages quite regularly on either the Hitchin-Kings Cross telegraph circuit and also on the 'Finsbury Park all boxes telegraph circuit' as well which in regards to the 'Finsbury Park telegraph circuit' I believe it was the normal practice for Finsbury Park no.6 (situated just off the north end of the Up lines platforms) to 'send on' to Finsbury Park no.4 either on the Up slow or Up Goods lines (through the platforms roads) and say what was coming from no.6 with regards to any ECS trains (Empty Coaching Stock) bound for either Kings Cross or East Goods sidings or heading towards the Finsbury Park no.1 direction on the Up Canonbury line and also for any light engines heading passed no.4 and either heading towards Kings Cross, the Goods yard, East Goods sidings or Clarence yard (Finsbury Park diesel depot) via Finsbury Park no.1 on the Up Canonbury line as well which negated the signalman in Finsbury Park no.6 having to keep 'going on the box phone circuit' and speaking to the bloke in Finsbury Park no.4 (the GNR way of working).
Original start date of 2010 on the LNER forum and previously posted 4500+ posts.
Mickey
LNER P2 2-8-2
Posts: 932
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:27 am
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Re: GN London s/boxes c1969

Post by Mickey »

I visited Harringay (passenger) twice in quick succession during February 1973 about 6-7 months before the box was finally closed. The box I believe was built and opened around 1906 and by the 1960s and early 1970s was unusual in the London area between Kings Cross and Wood Green on the main line in so far as apart from Kings Cross 1932 box and it's replacement the 1971 power box the box (Harringay) worked both the Up & Down running lines if you were to disregard either Goods And Mineral Junction on the Up Down Goods lines and both Finsbury Park no.1 on the Up & Down Canonbury lines and Finsbury Park no.7 on the Up & Down Edgware branch which by late 1970 had closed.

A unusual feature of this box was 10 sets of wooden housed single stroke block bells for the five running lines that the box worked which were the Down slow no.2, Down slow no.1, Down fast, Up fast & Up slow lines were all hung high up on the back wall of the box with all the 'ringing hammers' having long metal chains attached to them individually this was so the signalman could visually identify which bell had rang which made the attached chain 'waggle around' for several seconds.

A 'funny feature' of this box was the Up slow line signal levers I recall. A old long standing trick no doubt dating back several decades was if the signalman after 'pulling off' his signals along the Up slow line which included the Up slow line home signal on a straight post on the approach to Harringay West station and then the Up slow line second home signal on a overhanging lattice post just off the Up slow line platform nearly opposite the box and the Up slow line starter on a tall signal gantry south of Harringay West station heading towards Finsbury Park and then both the inner distant signal and then the outer distant signal both signals of which were mounted underneath Hornsey no.2 stop signals the 'trick was' if the signalman 'closed' the Up slow line inner distant signal lever catch and then closed the Up slow line home signal lever catch and finally he closed the Up slow line second home signal lever catch on those individual levers when a train approached along the Up slow line and was passing the box having already passed the Up slow line second home signal the signalman would put back the Up slow line outer distant signal lever and then if by magic first the Up slow line inner distant signal lever would return back in the lever frame followed by the Up slow line home signal lever and then finally followed by the Up slow line second home signal lever thus negating the signalman of individually put those signal levers back in the lever frame.

A funny episode that happened when I visited the box was when I mentioned to the signalman who by the way was a relief signalman who was working the box that I had never seen a train being 'turned in' off the Down fast line and onto the Down slow no.1 line at Harringay (this connection was the only set of points that this box had by 1969/70 until it's closure) so the signalman replied "I can remedy that" and shortly afterwards on receiving a 3-1 bell from Finsbury Park no.5 on the Down fast line for a Rolls Royce unit I recall which was probably working a Kings Cross to Hitchin semi-fast (on the GN known as a Parly) the signalman 'set the road up' without talking with the control first from the Down fast to Down slow no.1 line and after receiving 'on line' (2 bells) from Finsbury Park no.5 waited for the train concerned to approach the bracket signals that were near the box on the Down lines and then when the train had slowed down enough he 'pulled off' the signal from the Down fast to Down slow no.1 line after which the train continued through the connection and along the Down slow no.1 line towards Hornsey no.1 and was no doubt 'turned out' again onto the Down fast line at New Barnet I would surmise?. Things like that happened under B.R. but 20 odd years further on from the early 1970s under Railtrack and later still Network Rail something like what that signalman had done would have caused trouble for a signalman.
Original start date of 2010 on the LNER forum and previously posted 4500+ posts.
Mickey
LNER P2 2-8-2
Posts: 932
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:27 am
Location: London

Re: GN London s/boxes c1969

Post by Mickey »

I visited Knebworth box in the late summer/autumn of 1972. The box was around 25 miles north of Kings Cross and this visit came about after a relief signalman who I knew at the time said to me that I could visit him at the box.

Knebworth box and it's layout by about 1970 had been heavily rationalised so by the time of my visit in 1972 it was basically just four straight running lines with only a mechanically worked 'turn out' off the south end of the Up slow line platform leading from the Up slow to Up fast line. Knebworth box was located between the Up fast and Up slow lines just off the north end of the Up platforms and held quite a long lever frame of a rough guess of about 60 levers(?) reflecting it's once more complex layout of times past although by 1970 only around 14 or 15 levers were still in regular use I would say with the remainder of the levers being painted white as spare levers. All the existing semaphore signals were to be found on the Up slow line coming from Langley (Junction) box which included the Up slow line distant signal mounted on a straight concrete post, the Up slow line home signal mounted on a straight tubular post on the approach to the box and the Up slow line to Up Goods line stop signal and also the Up slow line to Up fast line stop signal mounted on the same tall wooden bracket post situated just off the Up slow line platform south of the station and the Up Goods line starting signal mounted on a tall lattice post south of the station towards Woolmer Green. On the Down lines a 'motorised' semaphore distant signal was on the Down slow line mounted on a T-bracket lattice post coming from Woolmer Green and the Down fast line colour light distant signal that was combined with Woolmer Green's Down fast line colour light starting signal was further back towards Woolmer Green. Also on the Down lines two independent banner repeater signals one for the Down fast line and the other for the Down slow line colour light home signals that were both located off the north end of the Down platforms (opposite the box) were located on the southern approach to the station on a curve. The Up fast line from Langley (Junction) to Woolmer Green were all colour light signals which in order of approaching them were a x2 aspect colour light distant signal south of Langley (Junction) box then a x4 aspect colour light home signal on the approach to Knebworth box that also acted as Woolmer Green's Up fast line outer distant signal and finally a x3 aspect colour light starting signal mounted on a cantilever post south of Knebworth station (close to the Up Goods line starting signal) that also acted as Woolmer Green's Up fast line inner distant signal as well. The Up Goods line south of the station 'turn out' from Knebworth to Woolmer Green was worked under Permissive block but all other lines were worked under Absolute block between Woolmer Green to the south and Langley (Junction) to the north.

The interior of Knebworth box was quite large but gloomy even in broad daylight and from memory I believe the box was still lit by gas lighting with a gas lamp hung over the train register desk/book along with three or four other gas lamps hanging in a row from the box roof but I doubt very much if those lamps hanging from the roof would have been lit as the normal practice in those days at most signal boxes all over the railways was to just have an illuminated light over the train register desk/book during the hours of darkness with the rest of the box usually left in darkness.

At the time of my visit I was a telegraph lad at Welwyn Garden City box so I was allowed by the signalman to do a bit of work 'on the frame' and pull off for several approaching trains and also put the levers back behind several passing trains in either directions and also work the block instruments as well.

All in all Knebworth box was a 'nice little job' signalling wise and the box was quite a nice GNR s/box as well which finally closed in October 1973 when the railway through Knebworth station became part of the temporary Langley box NX panel for a year or two before finally being transferred into the Kings Cross power box area for the next 46 years.
Original start date of 2010 on the LNER forum and previously posted 4500+ posts.
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