The 8D Association



A study of the signal boxes from Speke Junction to Arpley.

A look at the many signal boxes along the route from Speke Junction to Warrington Arpley. As you may know the original SH & RGR line ran through Widnes at the Watreloo Road crossing, the LNWR constructed the Deviation to allow this route to be closed. The boxes along both sections are described here.

Speke Junction.

There have been 5 boxes at Speke Junction over the years with the rapid expansion of the railway in the area larger boxes were built by the railway companies. The first was built in 1868 and abolished in 1872 being replaced by a larger box until this too was abolished in October 1884. The next box built by the LNWR contained a 22 lever frame but with the increase in traffic had to be replaced by another in September 1893. This box was an LNWR Type 4 Box with a 72 lever frame. With improvements in the area it was decided to replace this box with an LNWR Type 5 Box in 1907. It has a wooden top with a 3 storey high brick base. It was originally fitted with a 100 lever frame which was later reduced to 86. On Monday 10th April 2006 a new IFS mini panel was added to the box to cover the Garston Junction area. 


Speke Junction looking east with the LNWR Type 5 box.
1950's.
Photo from the Richard Mercer collection.


The box at Speke Junction has seen several changes since the 1950's shot with the introduction of the OLE a cage was built around the stairs and the wooden top of the box has been replaced with UPVC.


The frame inside the box remains the same though.



The modern diagram contrasts sharply with the LNWR lever frame.
Photos by James Mackenzie.
To view more of the James Mackenzie collection click here

Speke Station.

A box was sited here from 1879 to 1884. No further details are available.

Woodside Siding.

Two boxes have been sited here the first being from 1879 to July 1884 when a replacement LNWR Type 4 box was built with a 24 lever frame. This box lasted until it was abolished on 11th December 1960.

We do not have a picture of the box at Woodside Siding. If you do and would like to share it please send it to The8DAssociation@sky.com. It will be shown here and fully credited.

Ditton Junction No2.

A box was first sited here in November 1884, an LNWR type 4 with an 80 lever frame it was replaced by British Railways on 7th November 1960. The new box which opened on the same day was a BR LM 15 wooden top with a flat roof on a brick base type. It had a 55 lever frame and a panel for controlling the Ford sidings at Halewood. This box was abolished on 10th December 2000 with the opening of the Ditton Power Box on the site of the former station goods yard.


Ditton Junction No2.
1980's
Photo by Ken Booth.


Ditton No2 box.
5th July 1989.
Photo by
 David Ingham.

To view more of David's excellent pictures on his extensive Flickr photostream click here


The interior of Ditton No2 with many of the levers now painted white, indicating they are spare.


The panel which controlled the Ford's sidings at Halewood.
Both pictures by James MacKenzie.
To view more of the James MacKenzie collection click here


Ditton Junction No2 on the day of its closure.
10th December 2000.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.


Ditton Power Box.

The new Power Box at Ditton replaced No1 and No2 boxes and was opened on 10th December 2000. The box was built on the former stations goods yard. It was constructed by the now defunct Railtrack and is brick built with a bank of double glazed windows and a hip roof. It is fitted with a Henry Williams domino NX panel.


The new Power Box at Ditton.
January 2000.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.



Viewed from platform 2's derelict waiting shelter.
January 2000.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.


The interior of the new power box at Ditton
Photo by James MacKenzie.
To view more of the James MacKenzie collection click here

Ditton Junction No1.

There have been 2 Ditton Junction No1 boxes the first was opened in October 1884 and was an LNWR Type 4 wooden topped box on a tall thin two storey brick base. The working room was partly on steel stanchions over the track and was equipped with a 75 lever frame. This box was abolished on 22nd July 1956 and replaced by a BR LMR Type 15 box. This had a wooden top with a flat roof on a brick base and had a 100 lever frame. The second box was abolished on 10th December 2000 with the opening of the new Ditton Power Box.


A truly fascinating pre-electrification shot looking towards Runcorn from Ditton station. The two pairs of the main line to London can be seen climbing the gradient towards the Mersey crossing; these are flanked by the original SH&RGR lines with the passenger lines to the left and the later freight lines to the right. Numerous sidings into several works can be seen either side of the main running lines.


The interior of Ditton No1 prior to electrification with virtually all of the 100 levers in use. The box diagram gives an indication of the complexity of the junction layout.
Both pictures by Tony Cook.


Ditton No1 seen from the fast lines.
13th June 1987.
Photo by David Ingham.


Ditton No1 box diagram.
13th June 1987.
Photo by David Ingham.
To view more of David's excellent pictures on his extensive Flickr photostream click here


Ditton Junction No1.
April 1994.
Photo by Terry Tracey.
From his excellent website Terry's Railway Pictures



Ditton Junction No1 on the day of closure. Certain trains were still running until the Freightliner train seen here derailed whilst trying to gain the main line from the yard due to a fishplate not being replaced before the passage of the train. The emergency services turned up in force only minutes later.
10th December 2000.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.

Ditton Junction Crossing box.

A box was provided here to control the level crossing between 1868 and 1884. Presumably the new Ditton Junction No1 taking over its duties.

Ditton No1 East.

Opened in 1868 this box was a Saxby and Farmer Type 6 brick built box. The box was abolished in October 1884. Presumably the new Ditton Junction No1 took over its duties.

Widnes West Bank.

Opened in 1874 the box was abolished in 1893. No further details are available.

Widnes West Deviation.

There have been 4 boxes controlling the junction between the original line and the deviation and the entrance to Hutchison Street Goods Yard. The first was constructed and opened in conjunction with the opening of the deviation line by the LNWR in 1869. It had a short working life and was abolished in 1874 when the second box was to open. This box also had a short working life and after only 10 years it too was abolished. The replacement box had a slightly different name being called West Deviation Junction. This box was an LNWR Type 4 wooden top with a brick base box it had a 50 lever frame. This box was also abolished on 12th February 1967 and replaced by an LMR type 15 box of a wooden construction with a flat roof. The name reverted to Widnes West Deviation when the new box opened. With the closure of the Hutchison Street Yard it was decided to close the box and it was abolished on 19th December 1988.


The 1874 LNWR type 4 box seen here sandwiched between the branch to the Dock Estate from the Widnes Loop and Desoto Road bridge. A lengthy train of coal is proceeding down the branch to the dock whilst a train of open wagons passes the box.
1928.
Photo by A W Hobart.
From the Ernie Brack collection.
To view more of Ernie's interesting Flickr photostream click here


Widnes West Deviation BR LMR type 15 box.
1986.
Photo by Paul Wright.


Widnes West Deviation box out of use and heavily vandalised the box name board is surprisingly still present.
12th February 1988.
Photo by David Ingham.
To view more of David's excellent pictures on his extensive Flickr photostream click here


Later in the same year the box had been vandalised even more with the facing boards of the base being removed exposing the locking room under the working floor of the box. Some tank wagons can be seen in Hutchison Street goods yard.
1988.
Photo by Harry Gardner.
To view more of Harry's interesting pictures throughout the North West click here


Waterloo Road Crossing.

The box at Waterloo Road and associated level crossing caused a lot of congestion locally but with the opening of the deviation in 1869 movements across the crossing diminished. The crossing would still be open for a further 99 years though, only closing in 1968.


With the 'bobby' observing the crossing all seem to be quiet. The deviation line can be seen in the background. The children are queuing to gain entry to the old Widnes Public Baths.
Date Unknown.
Photographer Unknown.


Jinty 47659 is seen crossing Waterloo Road on the original line. The Railway Inn can be seen in the background known locally at The Cork Harbour.
1961.
Photo by Eddie Bellass.


Waterloo Road Crossing viewed from the footplate of an 8F travelling towards Warrington.
1967.
Photo by Les Fifoot.



Widnes No7.

There have been 2 boxes called Widnes No7 the first opened in conjunction with the opening of the deviation line by the LNWR in 1869. The box was to control the junction with the new link to the old SH & RGR line. This box was to be abolished in 1893 with the building of the LNWR type 4 all wooden construction box. The box was all wood due to the box being located on a high embankment. The box was equipped with a 20 lever frame but only 13 of them were working the others being spare. The box cost £265 to build and equip with the frame. The box was closed on 18th April 1982 when the connection from the deviation to Tanhouse Yard was brought into use allowing the southern end of the old SH & RGR to be closed.


A shot of No7 showing the start of the SH & RGR curving away to the right with the Deviation line carrying on straight ahead.
Photo by David Lennon.
To view more of David's interesting Flickr photstream click here




Widnes No7 box located at the east end of the west bound platform at Widnes South.
29th May 1976.
Photo by Nigel Mundy.

Widnes Dock Junction.

Widnes Dock Junction box controlled movements from the ex SH & RGR Widnes St Helens to Widnes line and the Warrington to Garston line. It was situated directly in front of the flat crossing of the two lines. The decline in freight traffic in the late 1960's saw the deviation handle all through traffic and the box was closed.


Widnes Dock Junction box with the flat crossing evident the loco is joining the St Helens to Widnes line. The line that runs from the bottom left to the top right is the Warrington to Garston line.
circa 1960.
Photo by Mike Humphries.

Carterhouse Junction.

The original box at Carterhouse junction was opened with the LNWR deviation line in 1869 and was abolished in 1896. The 1896 replacement was an LNWR type 4 box with a wooden top and a brick base it was equipped with a 30 lever frame. The box was abolished on 3rd December 2006 and was left switched out until it was demolished on 14th April 2007.


The box viewed on a murky day on the Mersey estuary at this time the box had no metal grilles and apart from the locking room windows being bricked up was close to as built condition. Even the Stop, Look and Listen notice for people crossing is still in situ.
   5th April 1988.
Photo by Harry Gardner.


The frame and box diagram complete with carpet.
5th April 1988.
Photo by Harry Gardner.



A hand drawn copy of the box diagram. Interestingly the original route of the line to Widnes Dock Junction is now shown as Main Siding and the connection into the ICI works is also still shown.
1987.
Drawn by Harry Gardner.
To view more of Harry's interesting pictures of operations in the North West click here


Carterhouse Junction box with the boxes name board needing a little attention.
5th July 1989.
Photo by David Ingham.



Viewed from the opposite side with the complete name board. The sleeper crossing is quite evident in this picture.
5th July 1989.
Photo by David Ingham.
To view more of David's excellent and extensive Flickr photostream click here



A Class 31 hauls the Folly Lane to Dalry salt train past the box at Carterhouse Junction. The signalman was to have the train stopped at Fidlers Ferry box due to a tarpaulin coming loose. At this point it is evident that the box is suffering from subsidence and is starting to lean towards the canal.
1998.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.


There were plans to re-instate the box at Carterhouse at one point but after a survey the subsidence was found to be too severe. The box was left to the mercy of the vandals who had set fire to the box shortly before this shot was taken. Note the temporary roof.
9th January 2005.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.



Carterhouse Junctions lever frame after a further arson attack.
17th January 2007.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.


Carterhouse Junction box interlocking.
1st June 2006.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.


Carterhouse Junction box the day before demolition.
13th April 2007.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.

British Alkali.

Two boxes have stood on the site for controlling the movements to and from the sidings at British Alkali the first was in use between 1879 and 1896. This box was abolished and replaced with an LNWR type 4 box with a small 11 lever frame it cost £ 206 to build and equip. The box was abolished on 12th June 1955.


Fidlers Ferry Power Station.

When the railway came and opened a station at Fidlers Ferry they used the correct spelling with only a single d. The CEGB decided to build a new coal fired power station and called it Fiddlers Ferry adding a d. The new power station was to be rail connected for its coal deliveries by the new Merry Go Round system and the new signal box controlling movements from the main line was called Fidlers Ferry Power Station. The railway using the original spelling. The box which opened on 30th July 1967 is a BR LM 15 type all wooden construction with a flat roof it is equipped with a 45 lever frame.


Viewed from across the Sankey Canal the box at Fidlers Ferry Power Station complete with Trainload Coal emblem.
22nd March 2006.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.


The correct railway spelling of Fidlers an be seen on the box name board.
24th February 2007.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.


The immaculate interior of Fidlers Ferry box.
Photo by James Mackenzie.
To view more of the James Mackenzie collection click here

Fidlers Ferry.

Two boxes have been at the site of Fidlers Ferry station. The first opened in 1880 and was a Saxby and Farmer type 6 box built of brick. This box was abolished in 1904 when the new LNWR type 4 wooden top box on a brick base was opened. Initially the box was equipped with 15 levers until 1918 when it was re-equipped with a 25 lever frame. With the closure of the stations goods yard on 24th January 1960 the box was reduced to a crossing control frame. The box was abolished on 1st May 1965.


The box at Fidlers Ferry viewed from across the canal, even though it is over 12 months before the box is officially abolished it looks to be switched out.


Viewed from the opposite side, the box could pass as still being operational. Note the lantern at the crossing.
4th January 1964.
Both photos by Harry Arnold MBE/Waterway Images.
View more of Harry's Waterway Images here

Penketh Hall Crossing Keepers Cottage.

Only recently supplied to the Association is this set of pictures showing the crossing keepers cottage which existed at Penketh Hall Crossing.The crossing keepers cottage was located between the railway and the canal. A pair of indicators can be seen on the wall of the cottage to the left of the left hand window one showing the up line and one the down. The crossing controlled access from Penketh Hall, inhabited by the Penketh family until 1624, across the double track railway and onto a swing bridge crossing the canal.


Both pictures show the crossing keepers substantial dwelling looking in the Warrington direction. Today the crossing is still extant, although lightly used, no trace remains of the cottage.


The pair of indicators provided to show the crossing keeper the state of the line whendeciding to allow vehicles to cross. 


A view across the canal of the crossing and cottage, the swing bridge looks to be out of use.
All photos from the James MacKenzie collection.
To see more of the James MacKenzie collection click here 


Sankey Bridges No1.

There have been two boxes by the former station at Sankey Bridges the first opening in 1872. This box was abolished in September 1893 when the new LNWR type 4 wooden top box on a brick base was built it was equipped with a 20 lever frame. The boxes at Sankey Bridges were located at the east end of the down platform and controlled the swing bridge over the Sankey Canal.


Sankey Bridges No1 seen complete with the swing bridge over the Sankey Canal which the box controlled.
27th December 1961.
Photo by Harry Arnold MBE/Waterway Images.
View Harry's Waterway Images here


Sankey Bridges No2. 

This box was opened in July 1878 and was equipped with a 13 lever frame. It is not known when the box was abolished.

Monks Siding.

The box here was opened in 1875 and is a LNWR type 3 wooden top box on a brick base it was equipped with a 20 lever frame. The box has been altered slightly throughout the years with the steps being moved from the Warrington side to the Sankey side. The sidings into the wire works which it once controlled are all now gone but the box is still performing the functions it was built for over 130 years ago. It is worthy of note that between Monks Siding and Arpley Junction the distances between the boxes was very short and all the distant semaphore signals were fixed at caution.


With the closure of the nearby wire works the layout around Monk Sidings box was rationalised. The main low level lines run in front of the box and a double track used as sidings and access to the various works ran behind the box. The colour light signal protecting the crossing is still connected but the track has been removed.
29th May 1987.
Photo by David Ingham.

Viewed from the opposite side the double track which ran to the rear of the box can still be seen in the crossing. Another rather short colour light is still operational but again all the track has been removed. The box looks to be freshly painted and in a good state of repair.
29th May 1987.
Photo by David Ingham.


Monks Sidings box diagram still showing the connection from the main line into the British Steel Corporation sidings which ran to the rear of the box
29th May 1987.
Photo by David ingham
To view more of David's excellent and extensive Flickr photostream click here
 

Monks Siding box before recent housing development behind the box.
2003.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.


The original steps led up to the two small windows seen in the side of the box. These were relocated to the other side of the box.
22nd March 2006.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.

Littons Mill Crossing.

Named after the flour mill adjacent to the line two boxes have been on the site. The first was opened in 1875 and was abolished in 1890. The 1890 replacement is a LNWR type 4 wooden top box on a brick base. It was initially equipped with 16 levers until 1922 and was then re-equipped with an 18 lever frame. The recent re-signalling in the area and the abolition of the semaphore signals has seen Littons Mill Crossing reduced to a crossing keepers shelter.




Two views of the box at Littons Mill before it was refurbished the box is still sporting its original nameboard.
Both photos by David Ingham.
13th June 1987.
To view more of Davids excellent and extensive Flickr photostream click here


Littons Mill box whilst in use as a signal box after refurbishment.
22nd March 2006.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.


Since the re signalling the box is now just a crossing keepers shelter. Some character remains though with the oil lanterns on the gates. They are now electrically operated.
22nd July 2012.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.

Crossfields Crossing.

There have been two boxes at Crossfields located within the Lever Brothers works. The first was opened in 1872 and was replaced in 1907. The replacement box is an LNWR type 4 wooden top box with a brick base. It was equipped with an 18 lever frame but in its latter years of use only 4 were in use. The box was extensively refurbished in August 2007 and was abolished as a signal box under the recent re signalling scheme. The box was abolished on 16th July 2012, the structure is still in use as a relay room.

 
  Crossfields Crossing Box
29th May 1987.
Photo by David Ingham.



Crossfields Crossing Box.
25th May 1988.
Photo by David Ingham.
To view more of David's excellent and extensive Flick photstream click here



With the 'bobby' keeping a careful lookout over the passage of the train over the crossing 60 023 hauls a loaded MGR train for Fiddlers Ferry.
January 2000.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.


The box before refurbishment.
22nd March 2006.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.



The refurbished box after closure now in use as a relay room.
22nd July 2012.
Photo by Terry Callaghan.

Slutchers Lane.

The original box at Slutchers Lane was also a crossing box for the level crossing that existed at the time. The box was relocated when the road over bridge was constructed and to enable the 'bobby' to have a better view along the line. The second box was located at the east end of the westbound platform of Warrington Bank Quay Low Level station. It was an LNWR built box similar to many of the others along the line. The box was abolished in the 1960's and has been demolished.


Slutchers Lane box with the industrial scene of Warrington in the background.
1950's.
Photo by Harry Arnold MBE/Waterway Images.
View more of Harry's Waterway Images here


Arpley Junction.

Another of the traditional LNWR boxes it is located to the west of the old Arpley station, which has since been demolished. The box is still in use and controls movements over the junction with Arpley Yard and the Low Level line it also controls shunting movements in and out of Latchford sidings, primarily used by coal trains for Fiddlers Ferry.


The once extensive sidings to the rear of the box have long since been removed but for many years after there was a long siding used for the storage of MGR trains. One such train can be seen in this Sunday picture it would be taken along the Low Level Monday morning to the power station.
7th February 1982.
Photo by David Ingham.
To view more of David's excellent and extensive Flickr photostream click here



The lever frame looks to have very few spare levers with only 5 spares visible.


The box diagram showing Latchford sidings to the left with the low level line carrying on to the right and the entrance to Arpley yard deviating off from it.
Photo by James MacKenzie.
To view more of the James MacKenzie collection click here


The box at Arpley Junction at this time the old stabling point was in use for cripple wagons.
13th March 2005.
Photo by Paul Wright.







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