North Kent East signal box


North Kent East Junction signal box was located at the point of divergence of the Greenwich and Lewisham lines and is east of Corbetts Lane Junction where the Croydon Line turns south. This signal box was brought into use on Sunday 1st December 1929 and continued in continuous use for 46 years until its operation was take over the London Bridge Signalling scheme on 15th April 1976. The box was always double manned by two signalmen.


Above: North Kent East exterior view, it was situated just to the south of the Surrey Canal, the point at which the Greenwich and New Cross (Lewisham lines) lines part company. Picture copyright © J Scrace, reproduced by kind permission of Middleton Press, from their Charing Cross to Orpington book in the southern mainlines series published in 1991 ISBN 0906520967. Graham Floyd a contributor to this web site visited North Kent just once on a dark winters night, the walk way to the box was up a spiral staircase on the side of the viaduct and along a catwalk with slippery wooden boards to walk on and only two horizontal rails to stop you falling through, the catwalk was about 25 yards long before you reached a second spiral staircase (seen on the outside shot) which took you up the outside of the structure to the working floor and I don't like heights at all! He had his camera with him but for some reason lost the film! .

The lever frame is a Westinghouse Style 'L' Power Frame and was the first all electrically locked frame of its type in the UK, The frame was formed of 7 x 12 way section which making a total of 83 levers, {7x12}-1 = 83 levers, as the last "lever" space is unavailable. 24 of these levers worked 50 point ends, 51 signal levers operated 54 coloured light signals, and there was one 'Release' lever and 7 spare levers when the frame was supplied and installed. This made the working lever total of 76.

Interior of North Kent East

I think the picture above is shortly after the lever frames was installed in or around 1929. Picture from the Railway Engineer, reproduced by kind permission of Middleton Press, from their London Bridge to Addiscome book in the London suburban railways series published in 1993 ISBN 1873793200. At this early date, the colors in the outdoor signals, from the bottom up, were originally Y, R, YY, G. (See the diagram; black dots are the red aspects.) Thus presumably so were the roundels. The present standard sequence of R, Y, G, YY came a little later.

Behind the miniature levers are the point and signal repeaters and above them are the Walkers rotary train describers for each route. The sending units are on top of the frame the receiving units are located each side of the track diagram.

Interior of North Kent East

Above is a more detailed view of the lever frame obviously taken in later years, when as the more modern electric light style train describers have replaced the majority of the walkers rotary train describers above the levers. The illuminated 'N' and 'R' indicate the points as either being Normal or Reverse, the 4 glass roundels showed the signal aspect, being Red, Yellow, Green & 2nd Yellow reading from bottom to top. The train describers are fitted on top of the frame box, with the Sykes Block instrument and its bell plungers followed by the Walkers Rotary Train describer to {probably} Bricklayers Arms Junction. Emergency bell plungers are provided next to adjacent signal boxes, followed by yet more train describers. It may also be worth noting that the Sykes instrument is not a "lock and Block" instrument but an "electric closed block" instrument. They looked very similar but in place of the Sykes key there was co-operative releases.

Over the years extensive alteration took place at North Kent East Junction, and in 1965 the Southern Region of British Railways found that the alternation required could not be accommodated without extensive disruption to to traffic patterns which were not acceptable at such a location close to London Bridge.

Rear castings and contacts had been fitted to levers 71 through 83 and these had originally come from the ex Euston Station lever frame [closed 27/9/65] The solution adopted was to fit the complete frame with Rear contacts and to install all new wiring onto these contacts to simplify the change over process. Hence the then Eastern Divisional Signal Engineer PRG Guyatt arranged with Mr Brentnall of the LMR for the necessary spare parts from the redundant Euston frame.

The modification caused the frame to acquire a conventional i.e. later style case work which is evident in the second interior photo but I would think that this case work came as part of the Euston package (same as Balham)

Track Layout

Interior of North Kent East Track Diagram Track layout, reproduced by kind permission of Middleton Press, from their London Bridge to Addiscome book in the London suburban railways series published in 1993 ISBN 1873793200


Attached is pdf docSouthern Railway signal instruction 43 notice and pdf docsignal instruction track diagram) this can be downloaded in PDF format, this covers the opening of North Kent East Junction signal box and it related signalling between Spa Road & New Cross. These diagram(s) are taken from the web site of the Signalling Record Society Research Note37. These images are copyright of the Signalling Record Society, and reproduced by permission.

Adjacent boxes

London Bridge to Dover Marine (via Tonbridge) line

London Bridge and St. Johns were the adjacent boxes when the box opned in 1929.

Bricklayers Arms to North Kent East Junction line

When opened Rotherhithe Road was the adjacent box. Rotherhithe Road box was closed in 07/1965 and North Kent West Junction became the adjacent box (line to Bricklayers Arms which is just off the diagram to the left)

North Kent East Junction to Maidstone West (via Greenwich) line

When opened Greenwich was the adjacent box {closed 4th Feb 1934}, by 1960 Maze Hill was the adjacent box. Maze Hill box was closed on 29th November 1969. The next adjacent box was then Charlton Junction which was closed on 15th March 1970 along with Sand Street Crossing, and Woolwich Arsenal boxes. At this time a temporary panel in St Johns controlled Charlton, this was later transferred to the London Bridge PSB.

By 1973 the Greenwich line was controlled from St. Johns box, that is definite and I assume that when Maze Hill box closed North Kent East Junction worked to Charlton Junction until 15/03/1970 when St. Johns box became the adjacent box (although on a different line)

East London line

When opened Canal Junction was the adjacent box Old Kent Road Junction (on the East London Line) is at the bottom of the diagram above.

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