Tracking the signals

Sunday 6th October 2019 12:46 pm
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TWO years on from Railway Renaissance, which explored the revival of our railways since widespread closures in the 1960s, Haslemere author Gareth David has written a second book.

His latest illustrated guide looks at what remains of semaphore signalling on the railways of Britain and Ireland.

Earlier this year, Gareth highlighted the plight of Haslemere Station’s grade II listed signal box.

It switched from semaphore to colour lights in 1937 and is manned on a three-shift basis for 24 hours a day, but is earmarked for closure, along with boxes at Farncombe and Petersfield.

Gareth said: “For those of us living in a place like Haslemere, where trains have long been controlled by colour lights signals, it may come as a surprise to learn there are still almost 200 signal boxes across Great Britain where a signaller will pull a manual lever to move a signal arm up or down.

“In my new book, I feature every major location where semaphores survive, as well as some recent notable losses, and includes statistics from Network Rail on its replacement plans over the next five years.

“Replacement of mechanical signalling has been going on in earnest since the 1960s and continues apace, with losses over the past couple of years at Blackpool, north Wales, Humberside, and at a number of locations in Scotland.

“Next to go, in February 2020, will be the Wherry Lines between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

“I visited every part of the country where semaphore signalling survives. Closest to home, there are still semaphore signals at Bognor Regis and Littlehampton.

* ‘Britain’s last mechanical signalling’, published by Pen & Sword Books, is on sale at Haslemere Bookshop and elsewhere.

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