Portsmouth Harbour signal box

Portsmouth Harbour signal box with its Westinghouse Brake & Saxby Signal Co. Ltd. Style 'L' Power Lever Frame was opened by the Southern Railway on the 1st June 1946. It was built to the Southern Railway Type 13 design and was fitted with a 47 lever Westinghouse 'L' frame (which was part of a 143 lever frame (frame number 93) purchased by the Southern Railway as a standby frame in case of war damage). 47 of the 143 Standby frame levers were utilised in 1946 after the station and layout were rebuilt due to war damage.

It replaced two boxes, Portsmouth Harbour signal box which was destroyed by aerial bombing in 1941 but was not officially closed and Portsmouth Harbour signal box, a temporary box opened on 21st August 1941 to replace the bomb damaged box.

Portsmouth Harbour signal box was closed on 21st April 1968 and was used an office and a relay room for Portsmouth power signal box. After closure the lever frame was moved to the school of signalling at Clapham Junction. The building was retained as a relay room for the 1968 Portsmouth NX signalling scheme which was operational until December 2006.

News 2007.

Network rail has re-commisioned Portsmouth Harbour signal box [prefix PH] as of February 4th 2007, following serious problems with the 2006 Portsmouth re-signalling scheme. The scheme was due to be commision over the christmas break 2006, but this has not happened due to serious technical problems.

The signal box re-opened with hand signalling supervising by a signalman overseeing access to paltforms 4 and 5, points being hand worked. On 13th February the points were power operated from a small IFS Panel, this also operates the local colour light signals.

Absolute block working has been instituted with BR[LMR] type plastic instrument to the north end of Fraton station.
It is understood that the signal box will remain in use until at least December 2007, or until such time as Havant ASC can be fully commissioned, in the mean time Havant and Portsmouth signal boxes are both being retained.

The Signal box closed for the second time at the end of 2007 when Havant ASC was eventually commisioned.

Portsmouth Harbour signal box taken arond 1990's, with its Westinghouse Brake and Signal Co. Ltd miniature power lever frame

The attached picture was taken on 18/02/1989, after closure when the box was in use as a relay room/office. Picture above by kind permission of © David A Ingham

The frame is a Westinghouse Style 'L' Power Frame which is all electrically locked. The frame was formed of 4 x 12 way sections making a total of 47 levers, {4x12}-1 = 47 levers, as the last “lever” space is unavailable. 8 of these levers worked the points, 16 signal levers operated the coloured light signals, and 23 spare levers when the frame was supplied and installed. This made the working lever total of 24. When platforms 4 and 5 were added on 20th June 1947 this probably accounted for an additional 2 points and 8 signals. (There might have been 1 or 2 more signals and one more points for the Dockyard line – these were brought into use at some stage after 1947, but taken out of use again in 1952

Portsmouth Harbour signal box internior taken in 1947s, with its Westinghouse Brake and Signal Co. Ltd miniature power lever frame, with its Walkers rotary train describer at theis end of the lever frame.

The interior of Portsmouth Harbour signalbox shortly after opening in June 1946, the Westinghouse Brake & Signal Co. Ltd lever frame with its indicators behind the levers is seen being operated. The 4 glass roundels showed the signal aspect, being Red, Yellow, Green and 2nd Yellow reading from bottom to top (there was just one 4-aspect signal) The large Walkers rotary train describer is located at the left hand end of the frame. Picture from the Evening News & Hampshire Telegraph, Portsmouth

King Lever

This box had a king lever, probably not originally but at least by the 1960’s. This was lever 32, which allowed departing trains to run on the down line as far as a trailing crossover at the nearer end of Portsmouth and Southsea station, where they regained the up road.


Attached is Southern Railway signal instruction 18 notice and signal instruction 18 track diagram this can be downloaded in PDF format, this covers the opening of Portsmouth Harbour signal box. These diagram(s) are taken from the website of the Signalling Record Society Research Note37. These images are copyright of the Signalling Record Society, and reproduced by permission..

Adjacent boxes

Local and Through lines to the north

Portsmouth Yard (1581yds away) was the adjacent box until 07/04/1968 when it was closed and Portsmouth power signal box became the adjacent box until closure two weeks later.