Purley signal box

Purley signal box with its Westinghouse Brake & Signal Co. Ltd. Style 'L' Power Lever Frame was opened by British Railways on 8th May 1955. It was built by British Railways and was fitted with a 71 lever Westinghouse 'L' frame (frame number 138).

Southern Region Resignalling of the London to Brighton Line which occurred between 1950 to 1955 which aimed to abolish all the semaphore signalling from the south end of the London Bridge scheme and also from just outside of Victoria which met at Windmill Bridge Junction (latterly known as Gloucester Road Junction) north of Croydon, and continued to Coulsdon. The objective was to removing the Sykes Lock and Block working and replacing it with track circuiting and colour light signalling. The whole scheme cost £2 million pounds and involved 11 new signalboxes having a combined total of 841 levers, replacing 32 manual signalboxes with a total of 1,515 full sized levers.

The 'L' frame was taken out of use on 25th September 1983 and was replaced by a panel in the signal box. The signal box was closed on 14th January 1984 when it's area of responsibility was taken over by Three Bridges Signalling Centre. The signal box has been demolished.

Some records say that the only the main line part of the panel closed on 14th January 1984, and that the Caterham and Tattenham branches were not transferred to Three Bridges until 23rd January 1984, perhaps due to some technical snag. So the box closure date is unclear. Part of the frame from here lives on, at Bekonskot Model Railway, Beaconsfield in Maryloo signalbox

Purley signal box taken arond 1950's, with its Westinghouse Brake and Signal Co. Ltd miniature power lever frame photograph

A southbound view on the 7th May 1955 shows the old Purley South box on its last day of operation, the new signal box is in the middle distance is ready top replace the the old North and South signal boxes. The Caterham and Tattenham corner branches are the left hand railway lines, whilst the main through lines are the railway lines on the left, the Local lines run behind the old South signal box. Picture copyright © D Cullum, reproduced by kind permission of Middleton Press, from their East Croydon to Three Bridges book in the southern mainlines series published in 1988 ISBN 090652033

BR(SR) signal box at Purley - c.02/1980.

BR(SR) signal box at Purley - c.02/1980. This picture is taken form the front side of the signal box, the railway line nearest the camera is the Down main line .Picture reproduced by kind permission of © John Turner 53A Models of Hull The actual date the image was made is unknown; the indication given is based on the film processing date imprinted on the original slide.

BR(SR) signal box at Purley - c.02/1980.

BR(SR) signal box at Purley - c.02/1980. This picture above is taken from the up and down Tatenham Corner railway lines that ran behind the signal box Picture reproduced by kind permission of © John Turner 53A Models of Hull The actual date the image was made is unknown; the indication given is based on the film processing date imprinted on the original slide.

Purley signal box exterior 1980's

The station facing end of the signal box [London end] is seen left. For the web site author this was his first posting as a signal and telegraph apprentice. The grey wooden door door below the Purley nameboard is the entrance to the signal engineers mess room, which takes up the area immediatly behind the door.

The window to the right of the grey door is for the downstairs toilet. Access to all other signalbox facilities, i.e. relay room, central heating boiler, and stairs to the operating floor and toilet was via the main door on the right hand side, which is the main line side of the box. The signalman worked the frame with his back to the main line.

The two branch lines passed the signal box on the left side of the signal box.

Photograph by kind permission of Alan Elliott

The web site author had the privilage for being stationed as an apprentice in the Signal and Telegraph department in 1968. The S&T mess room was located in the signal box in the downstairs rooms nearest the camera . The S&T cover was two shift and covered the Caterham and Tattenham Corner branches as well as the main line. Tthe signalmans cover was two people 24hours, during the day there was also a train register booking clerk

SR Signalling Project Track diagram

Purley  signal box internior taken in 1950's, with its Westinghouse Brake and Signal Co. Ltd miniature power lever frame

The frame is a Westinghouse Style 'L' Power Frame which is all electrically locked. The frame was formed of 6 x 12 way section which making a total of 71 levers, {6x12}-1 = 71 levers, as the last “lever” space is unavailable. 20 of these levers worked the points, 40 signal levers operated the coloured light and shunt signals, and 11 spare levers when the frame was supplied and installed. This made the working lever total of 60.

Purley  signal box internior taken in 1980's, with its Westinghouse Brake and Signal Co. Ltd miniature power lever frame

The Westinghouse Brake & Signal Co. Ltd lever frame, with its indicators behind the levers, looking 'North'. The 4 glass roundels showed the signal aspect, being Red, Yellow, Green & 2nd Yellow reading from bottom to top. Bell plungers are provided next to adjacent signal boxes, again mounted on the block shelf. Telephone concentrators are provided at each end of the frame at 45 degrees. Purley lever frame, date unknown, but it must have been towards the end. Picture above by kind permission of G Williamson.

The top indicator behind the signal lever is the "F" light and this became lit when the lever was normal, all points in the route correctly detected and all relevant track circuits clear. You could pull the lever at any time provided that the locking was correct but the signal would not clear unless the "F" light was lit before the lever was pulled.

BR(SR) signal box at Purley - c.02/1980.

A good picture of the whole lever frame BR(SR) signal box at Purley - c.02/1980. Picture reproduced by kind permission of © John Turner 53A Models of Hull The actual date the image was made is unknown; the indication given is based on the film processing date imprinted on the original slide.

Maidstone East Sykes Block instrument frame detail

Purley along with South Croydon & Maidstone East miniature lever frames still needed block instruments for working with adjacent semaphore signal boxes. To achieve this new miniature Sykes instruments were installed into the 'console' paneling. The tablets and treadles of these instruments did not drop with the 'Thud' of their normal counterparts, and were therefore refereed to as the 'Silent Sykes' block instruments. The only picture of that I of the can find of Skyes Silent block Instrument is of Maidstone East Skyes Silent block Instrument to Bearsted pictured above. Purley was unique in having two of these 'Silent Sykes' block instruments, one for the Caterham Branch line which worked to Kenley signalbox. The second silent block instrument worked to Smitham signal box on the Tattenham Corner Branch line.

Branch Train Movements
I would like to relate the operating practice used at Purley Station in Surrey, where the use of 'Calling-on' shunt signals were used continuously all the working day. Travelling in the London Up direction it was usual for the Caterham & Tattenham Corner branch line trains to be merged into one train at the station branch line platform in the rush hour, otherwise one branch line train laid over in the sidings during the day.

To achieve this two 'calling-on' Westinghouse electric shunt signals were provided on the coloured light home signals for each branch line. The signal box working as I remember it in 1969-1974 was to accept which ever branch train arrived first {usually the Caterham train } using the coloured light home signal, then accept the second branch line train into the branch line platform using the relevant branch line calling-on signal. I think the calling on is still done in 2005.

The calling-on signal could only be cleared when the platform track circuit was occupied, and the home signal approach track circuit was occupied, and a time out had occurred, which in practice brought the subsequent branch line train to a halt at the home signal, for about 5-10 seconds before the calling-on signal cleared.
The calling-on signal lever could be pulled to the off position providing the platform track circuit was occupied, and the approach track circuit to the home signal was occupied. When the approach control time out had occurred the signal would clear to the 'off position'.

Even if the trains did not couple up i.e. layover in the sidings the calling-on signals were still used as passengers from the rear train needed to board the front train to go in the London bound direction. Traveling in the southbound the train arrived in the down branch platform and was split in two to travel onto the respective destinations. During non rush hour periods, the down train arrived then the 2nd branch train came out of the lay-by sidings whilst the first train was still in the platform, passengers alighted their respective trains. and each train was dispatched in turn.

My first signal box
Purley signal box was my first working experience of a working life in 1969, starting late August that year when I joined the Signal & Telegraph department as a young signal engineer apprentice, and being attached to Purley S&T depot which was built into the signal box at the station end, and it was very cozy too as the signal box had central heating!

I was very lucky because within a few weeks I managed to get to work the lever frame, the early turn S&T went home at 14.30, and as I did not finish till 16:30. The late turn S&T were usually out and about on the the Caterham or Tattehan Corner branches in the afternoon, so I was left to my own devices for the afternoon, so what better way than spend a few hours than to help the duty signalman!

That is when I learn all about train movements, block signalling and automatic track circuit block working and everything else, and the interest has remained to this day.. - Mark Adlington web site author

Purely signal box - Stokes Nest NX Panel

Half of the temporary panel installed in Purley box after the decommissioning of the lever frame. This half covered the Stoats Nest Junction area, and the Tattenham corner line. The other temp panel covered Purley station area and the Caterham line. These panel were installed in Purley box due to problems connection SPT lines between Purley/Stoats Nest relay rooms and Three Bridges. They were worked by staff from Three Bridges ASCNote the stick on track circuit indications! Picture above by kind permission of G Williamson.
Click on image for larger picture of track diagram in a new window.

Diagrams

Attached is British Railways signal instruction No1 of 1955 notice and signal instruction No1 of 1955 track diagram, this can be downloaded in PDF format, this covers the opening of Norwood Junction, and Gloucester Road signal boxes. 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

Brighton Line to London Victoria & London Bridge (Main & Local Lines ) Northbound

To the North, South Croydon signal box (2m 91yds away) was the adjacent box.

Brighton Line to London Victoria & London Bridge (Main & Local Lines ) Southbound

To the South, Coulsden North signal box (1m 377yds away) was the adjacent box until 25/09/1983 when Coulsdon North signal box was reduced in status to a Ground Frame and Three Bridges Signalling Centre became the adjacent signal box.

Caterham Branch Line

Kenley signal box (1m 241yds away) was the adjacent box. Kenley signal box was closed (by 11th June 1961) and Whyteleafe signal box (2m 666yds away) became the adjacent box. Whyteleafe signal box was closed (by 31st August 1967) and Caterham signal box (4m 769yds away) became the adjacent box until 25/09/1983 when the entire replaced branch was controlled by the new panel installed in Purley signal box.

Tattenham Corner Branch Line

Smitham signal box (1m 451yds away) was the adjacent box until 16th August 1970 when Smitham was closed and Chipstead signal box (1m 1646yds away) became the adjacent box. On 28th November 1970 Chipstead was closed and Tattenham Corner (8m 24yds away) became the adjacent box until 25/09/1983 when the entire branch was controlled by the new panel installed in Purley signal box.