The 8D Association

The Great Central and Midland Railway Joint line.

There have been 10 boxes at 9 locations along the line which became known as the 'Widnes Loop'. Photographs of the boxes are quite rare and when these have not been available a map showing the location of the box has been used. Starting from the first box after the junction with the main line at Hough Green and working our way through the centre of Widnes and back to the main line at Widnes East.

Ditton Quarry Junction.

A box had opened at this location by 1891 although the exact site of it has yet to be located on any of the early town plans or maps of Widnes. The design of the box is unknown as is the size of the lever frame. We do know that it was located on the Down side and was probably abolished with the closure of the quarry in 1905 although the box was reported to be still extant in 1926.

Moor Lane.

By 1893 a Great Central Type 5 box had been built to control the junctions in the area it was a box of all wooden construction located on the Up side. It was equipped with a 24 lever frame of unknown origin. With the closure of the branches which the box controlled it was reduced to block post on 6th December 1956. The box would last until the lines closure being abolished on 6th December 1964.

Moor Lane box photographed from a passing service. The box is looking a little neglected as the line was near closure. The junction directly at the front of the box was down to the Landowners Branch. Mid 1960's. Photographer unknown. From the Richard Mercer Collection.

Widnes Central.

The first box to appear was directly to the west of Central station and was opened by 1893 it was located on the Down side. The box was abolished on 22nd May 1905 in conjunction with the opening of a new box. The new box was located immediately east of its predecessor and was equipped with a 46 lever frame. It would be abolished on 31st October 1954.

The 1890 town plan shows the box directly to the west of the platforms of Widnes Central Station.

West End Goods.

A box had been opened here by 1890 to control the entrance into the numerous sidings west of Tanhouse Lane. The only detail regarding the box was it was located on the Down side. The box was abolished on 2nd September 1912 being replaced by a Ground Frame simply known as Widnes West which was released by an Annetts key from Tanhouse Lane box. The Ground Frame was out of use 1937.

The 1890 town plan shows the sidings at Tanhouse Goods which the box controlled.

Tanhouse Lane Level Crossing.

By 1890 a Stevens & Sons box was in operation controlling the level crossing at Tanhouse Lane. Prior to the C.L.C. establishing their own manufacturing works for signalling equipment at Warrington many of the companies boxes were built by Stevens and Sons. The box was of all wooden construction on a raised wooden base to give better sighting to the signalman. Located on the Up side and equipped with a 22 lever frame plus a miniature lever for the gatelock. The box was abolished on 6th December 1964 and was replaced by Tanhouse Lane Ground Frame along with the opening of the new chord from the St Helens line.

A 1960's view, looking east this view shows how the box was raised to give better sighting to the signalman. From the Richard Mercer Collection.

Looking west from the crossing which the box controlled. Date unknown. From the Tony Graham Collection.

Golden Bowl.

A box had been opened in this location by 1890 and was located on the Up side again details of its construction are not available although it is known that it contained a 32 lever frame. There is no firm date for the abolition of the box but it had disappeared from the 1939 map.

The 1893 map shows the close proximity of the Golden Bowl box with Tanhouse Lane crossing and the station.

Sullivans Level Crossing.

A box was open controlling the level crossing by 1890 although construction and frame size are unknown. The box was replaced by an Intermediate Block Section from Widnes East box on 22nd May 1938 and replaced with a gate attendant controlling a ground frame. The attendant was withdrawn on 6th December 1964 with the closure of the loop line.

Located a little further east of the Golden Bowl was the crossing box of Sullivans Lane shown here on the 1893 map.

Johnsons Lane Level Crossing.

All that is known of the box at this location is that it was open by 1893 and had closed by 1939.

The box controlling Johnsons Lane crossing shown on the 1893 map.

Widnes South.

Located at the southern end of the fork where the east and west chords from the main line met. The box officially opened on 20th April 1878 although was possibly in use when the east chord was ready on 17th March 1878. With the opening of the complete line the east chord would close as it was surplus to requirements with all westbound traffic able to gain the loop line from Hough Green Junction. The box was located on the Down side and would be abolished on 31st January 1910.

The 1893 map showing the location of the box in respect to the east and west chords.

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