Railways would be unable to operate without an efficient Signalling
system. From the early days of time interval signalling with a train
being dispatched after a certain period has passed from the
preceding train down to the modern Network with large Power boxes
handling a large area by colour light signalling and track
circuiting from one location, mechanical and electrical machines had
to be devised to make the system work.
modernisation has taken place many examples of the workings of the
system have survived and are readily available to purchase. An
interesting collection can be obtained of the more common items
without a massive injection of cash and we will show some of the
items you can obtain below. We would advise against buying a Signal
Arm as once you get it home you will realise just how big it is! The
instruments are more manageable and interesting.
sections of track were Single line as this reduced the cost when
first constructing the railway. A system had to be in place to stop
two trains travelling in opposite directions on the same section of
track so a system of Keys, Tablets and Staffs were used that would
be carried by the driver who had the right of access to the track.
These are now very collectable as the section names were on the
STAFFS, TABLETS & KEYS
Steel Staff with brass
Brass Key Token
Steel Key Token with brass
Brass Tablet with Steel
Alloy Key Token
GWR Key Token Carrying
A selection of the machines that
housed these items are shown below. Each would hold a number of the
Tokens (around 30) and one could only be released with the
cooperation of the Signalman at the other end of the section.
Single Line Tablet
Single Line Key Instrument
Single Line Min Staff
This picture shows
the instruments inside the preserved Romsey Signalbox.
BLOCK INSTRUMENTS BELLS, PLUNGERS & REPEATERS
Within the Signalbox
were a selection of Instruments that gave information about what was
happening on their sections of track and also bells to attract the
attention of the Signalman to ask permission to send a train through
into their section.
GER Block Instrument
LNWR Block Instrument
LSWR Block Instrument
MR Block Instrument
GWR Block Bell
LBSCR Block Bell
MR Block Bell
GWR Block Gong
LMS Track Circuit
A selection of brass
and bakelite cased Signal Repeaters.
Instrument had to be labelled to show what it referred
to and generally brass or later ivorine engraved plates
were used. These could be attached to an instrument or
to the framework of the box next to the instrument.
These are now very collectable as they are small and
often have names of long closed stations on them.
Examples of the ivorine plates are shown on some of the
instruments pictured above.
Pictured below are a
selection of Brass Shelfplates
GWR early hand
GWR later hand
each Signalbox would be a diagram showing the signals
and points controlled from the box and these have become
very collectable. Some are still in their original
frames and often quite small. Many are unframed and
often can be quite long and not easy to display.
As you can
see from this brief guide there are many different items
collected to trace the history of railway signalling and
they are available at prices to suit all budgets. A few
other signalling collectables are pictured below.