Have a look at my photo collections at

Alan Roberts at work in Llanfair PG box in 2008.

30 Years On and still signalling trains

In June of this year my career in signalboxes will have reached 30 years (its amazing how time flies!).

Although I started on the railway in June 1976 my aim always had me interested in signalling and
even applied for a job in the S&T Department at Llandudno Junction in 1978 but failed to get it.

So in April 1981 for a period of six weeks I attended the School Of Signalling at Manchester Victoria
to train as a “qualified” signalman to work boxes.

My first job was a Class 1 GP relief based at Colwyn Bay; a month later the job had been upgraded to a Class 2.
This covered Class A and B boxes – the two lowest in the signalling grades.

The area covered was Colwyn Bay, Llysfaen, Abergele, Rhyl No2, Rhyl No1, Prestatyn,
Deganwy, Llandudno, Penmaenmawr, Aber and Llanrwst.

Up until 1985 Tal-y-Cafn crossing was covered by Leading Railmen and not signalmen, but from 1985
they became crossing keepers and relief was covered by relief signalmen, the same applied
to the crossing at Deganwy Quay.

I carried on doing the same relief job for the next 9 years until a vacancy appeared at
Llandudno Junction in March 1990.

By this time British Rail was disappearing and making way to Regional Railways North West.

This was a Class C; the only other Class C box on the coast at the time was Holyhead.

I then stayed there for 18 months before applying for a Class 3 RDR Signalman at Llandudno Junction.

This covered rest days in boxes at Llandudno Junction, Deganwy, Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead.

All went smoothly for over another 3 years until we were privatised and worked under Railtrack.

I still had a job but Holyhead was out of it and became a GPR Class 3 based at Llandudno Junction
covering boxes 15 miles radius from Llandudno Junction covering an area between Abergele and
Penmaenmawr, Llandudno to Llanrwst.

In 1999 Railtrack extended my coverage from 15 to 30 miles and in return
I had the boxes at Rhyl, Prestatyn and Bangor back on my patch.

Additionally I gained five new boxes and crossings and they were Tyn-y-Morfa Crossing,
Talacre, Mostyn, Llanfair PG Crossing and Gaerwen.

Since Network Rail took over Railtrack there have been no changes and my area of coverage stays the same
although the old Class 3 relief nowadays is now classified as a Class 5.

Llandudno Junction signalbox is the only Class 5 box on the North Wales coast with the majority of other
boxes being 2,3 or 4.

So thirty years on quite a lot of changes has happened to the signalling in the area and during that period we
have lost five signalboxes ; Llysfaen (18.12.1983), Llandudno Junction (10.2.1985) replaced by new box,
Aber (13.5.1989), Rhyl No2 (25.3.1990) and Colwyn Bay (2.11.1991).


July 21st 2015.

I am indebted to Mike Henney for the two shots of Abergele (Pensarn) box shown below along with his email.

I was in Abergele (Pensarn) last Thursday. Very pleased to see the 'box there has had a repaint and original style timber nameboards fitted.

Don't think mechanical signalling has got long to go now on the coast?

Mike Henney.


February 19th 2014.



They did away with the wheel when the box ceased to be a signalbox in 1973.

 Also I suppose for low maintenance as gate wheel mechanism proved to be quite expensive to maintain i.e. rodding for
 each gate connected to the giant cog under the signalbox - rodding went under the crossing in some parts carefully timed that when the
 four gates open or close that they would meet up together and the gate bolt lever lock, quite an invention really.

 Of course Llanfair did have 4 gates up till 1974 and it was from that date the lever frame was condensed from 18 to 4 levers.

DEGANWY had gates worked by gate wheel up till 1979 when barriers took over.

 TY CROES had gates worked by gate wheel up till 1989 thereafter worked by hand.


February 22nd 2013.

An email and photos from Allan Judd are reproduced below.

Below is a photograph which I took in July 1973 through the
doorway at Llanfair PG box and shows how little space there was.

It's quite sad looking at this photo, the box is in a sorry state, after
the reinstatement of the rail link to the mainland and by the look
of it, re-signalling, except the levers have not yet been removed.

I recall you saying Alan, that they were removed in 1974.

This photograph below of  Royal Scot No. 6161 "The King's Own" on a down Irish Mail after
crossing the Britannia Bridge was from an old postcard of my parents.

Thought it worthy of a look.

Allan Judd.


February 22nd 2013.

Thanks to Allan Judd for the link below to an interesting website
which features a page showing all the track, stations, signal boxes and junctions between
Crewe North Junction and Holyhead.


January 4th 2013.

This photo below shows Signalman Caradoc Evans at Llanrwst signalbox about 1975.

The "Train Staff" Instruments made way to "Key Tokens" in November 1981.

In 1975 the box at Llanrwst had three working signals each way also Points and Facing Point Locks each end of loop controlled
from the box which made a total of 10 working levers out of the 20 levers.

The siding connections had been lifted 18 months previously.

Nowadays only 4 working levers remain as points each end of loop are train operated and both distant signals
are now reflectorised boards.


Classification of boxes in the North Wales Coast area 2011

Ty Croes
1 (Crossing Keeper)
Gaerwen *
Llanfair PG *
1 (Crossing Keeper)
Bangor *
Penmaenmawr *
Llandudno *
Deganwy *
Llandudno Junction *
Tal-y-Cafn *
1 (Crossing Keeper)
Llanrwst *
Abergele *
Rhyl (ex-No1) *
Prestatyn *
Tyn-y-Morfa *
1 (Crossing Keeper)
Talacre *
Mostyn (open as req) *
3 ?
Holywell Junction
Rockcliffe Hall

* My present coverage as a Class 5 FP Relief at Llandudno Junction


August 4th 2012.

Many thanks to Mike Henney for sending in the interesting selection of various boxes mostly in our region shown below.

Beeston Castle & Tarporley, both 21/02/87

Bidston Dee Junction. 02/09/86.

Chester No 2. Undated.

Croes Newydd North Fork. Both 14/10/81.

Mouldsworth Junction (undated)

Nantwich Station. Undated.

Prees. Both 04/05/87.

Severn Junction Shrewsbury. 13/10/81.

Wem.  04/05/87.

Whitchurch. 04/05/87.

Wrenbury. Both 13/09/86.

Wem.  04/05/87.

Another shot of Mouldsworth Junction.  07/02/87

The two shots below of Chester No.4 box,  were taken from Hoole Road bridge on September 6th 1984, in the final hours before demolition.
The DMU passing the box was listed as the 1540hrs arrival from Rock ferry.

37220 at Radyr 26/10/79.

Chester Station

Gobowen North

Harlech 01/07/85.

Another view of Harlech 01/07/85


Mold Junction No.1
Date not recorded, taken from passing train.

A4 - 4498 - "Sir Nigel Gresley" passes Ruabon box on
October 1st 1977.


Whittington 04/05/87.


February 23rd 2012.

Two diagrams of Sandycroft Box are shown below   -  1986 and a diagram of 2004 (prior to the closure of the box).

Sandycroft Signal Box (1986)

Sandycroft Signal Box 2004.


October 31st 2011.

Two signalling diagrams are shown below.
  Tal-y-Cafn 1960 and Blaenau Ffestiniog 1965 (fully signalled )


July 11th 2011.


At Bangor running round a train is a rarity nowadays but at the moment there are three ways it can be done.
For example a down passenger train arriving at Bangor that wishes to run round, this can be done utilizing the
down main and down loop with the signaller having to send “blocking back outside home signal” (3-3) to
Penmaenmawr or to Llandudno Junction when Penmaenmawr is switched out before the movement commences.

After the locomotive re-attaches to the rear of the train it is then propelled out towards the Holyhead end of the
station behind the shunt signal (32-37) then signalled via the crossover (24) to gain the up lines.
The second method of running round a train in Bangor can be done using the up main and up loop.
But to achieve this the locomotive would have to pass the section signals (49/55) to re-attach its train.
The “Shunt into Forward Section” regulation is authorised over the line so that running round can easily
be done and signal 49 has an additional “shunt ahead” signal (50) located below it.

The only one disadvantage is when the locomotive runs round the down line is fouled because ground signals
19 and 20 only read to the down main via crossover 24.
Lastly, the third method can be done when the whole train has been drawn forward from the down passenger loop
or down main and set back into sidings 1 and 2.
Although not shown on the box diagram sidings 1 and 2 forms a run round connection worked by hand points.

This method was used on Monday to Friday in the mid 1990’s when Class 37 haulage worked on the coast.

The first Class 37 train was booked to terminate at Bangor and running close behind there was another
Class 37 hauled train destined for Holyhead (already passed Penmaenmawr and held on his section signal PR6 at Aber)
– so to avoid delay running round in the platform (blocking back etc ) the whole train was drawn forward,
shunted into siding 1 and the run round movement was carried out without delaying any services ; the train
would then stable for two hours or so until its booked return working where the train would propel out on to
the down main behind signal 32-37 and then cross over to the up platform.
Nowadays, the only booked train to use Siding 1 for stabling purposes is the twice Monday to Friday Virgin service
running as 1D82 0810 London Euston – Bangor arriving at 1120 returning as 1A38 1224 Bangor – London Euston
and the later one running as 1D90 1610 London Euston – Bangor arriving at 1918 returning as 1G00 2020
Bangor – Birmingham New St. All these trains are Virgin Voyagers.


July 11th 2011.

A copy of an incident report at Bangor in October 1856 is reproduced below.


Railway Department, Board of Trade,
Whitehall, October 25 1856

I have the honour to acquaint you, for the information of the Lords of the Committee of Privy Council for Trade
that I have inquired into the circumstances connected with a collision that occurred at the Bangor station
of the Chester and Holyhead Railway on the 17th September.

The Bangor Station is a four line section, that is, the up and down platforms are on sidings off the up and down lines.
The points leading to these sidings are weighed to keep open for the main lines.
They have, therefore, to be held open for all trains arriving at the station.
The points of the down siding are close to the western entrance of the Bangor tunnel.
All down trains approaching whistle on entering the tunnel and it is then the duty of the switchmen, if the down
siding is clear, to turn off the signal, and hold open the points for the train to go into the siding.

It appears that all trains, both passenger and goods, pass through the siding, and that the portion of the
main lines between the points of the up and down sidings is used as a siding for any wagons that have to be left
for the Bangor Station, or that are to be taken on from it; so that, the order of things has been reversed, and the
sidings are virtually the main lines and the parts of the line which are kept clear of obstructions.
It seems, therefore, a contradiction to the usual order of things to weight the switches to keep open that part
of the line which is always encumbered with wagons etc.

On the occasion of the collision I am reporting on, the driver of the night mail train from London gave the usual
whistle on entering the Bangor Tunnel for the signal to be turned off, which was done, and the driver proceeded, expecting
to be turned into the down siding; but for some unaccountable reason the policeman stood by the points without
opening them, and the train consequently ran into the wagons standing as usual on the main line.

I was informed that immediately after the accident the policeman absconded, and has not since been heard of.
The night porter stated that he saw the policeman turn off the signal for the train to come on, but cannot account
for him not opening the points.

If the switches had been weighted to stand open for the siding the collision would have been avoided.
For the reasons I have already stated I am of option that the normal condition of the points should be, to stand
open for the siding, and if the company have no objection to urge against the points being so weighted, I recommend
that they be altered to stand open for the sidings both on the up and down lines. In making this recommendation I desire
to add my opinion, that nothing would justify the Company to trust alone to the action of these points for the safe working
of trains through them.

The danger of facing points is universally admitted, and I believe on every well-regulated line it is an established rule that
such points are invariably to be held while a train is passing through them; and any Company that should neglect
to enforce such a rule would incur a serious responsibility in the event of an accident occurring from the points not acting.

When facing points are weighted to keep a train from running into an obstruction an additional element of safety is
thereby introduced.
I have, &c.

The Secretary of the GEO, WYNNE
Railway Department, Board of Trade Lient,-Colonel, Royal Engineers.


May 14th 2011.


Dave Wood has sent in these two photos of plates he found amongst his dad’s (the late Ken Wood) possessions.
Dave wondered if they were from Llanfair PG signal box where Ken worked for many years.
He wrote to Allan Judd, who compiled the page on this website dedicated to Ken Wood, to see if he could
confirm if they were from Llanfair PG box.

Allan Judd did confirm that the plates were from Llanfair PG box and added this detail below.

“The plates were from Llanfair PG box, they were once attached to two levers on the instrument shelf close to each
of the two block instruments (Up & Down).
I remember Ken telling me, many years ago, he had managed to 'procure' them when they were taken out of
service, as momentos, and had given them a good polishing”. (Allan Judd)


Alan Roberts explains below what the plates were used for.

“They were actually point indicators for the main crossover between the up and down main lines
and go back to the LNWR days.
When the crossover had to be back to normal the handles located on these indicators had to be placed to "locked" which
actually released the signals on the main line - bit complicated to understand you may think !!.

The only ones I remember were over in Ty Croes and they lasted until the late 1980's”. (Alan Roberts)



January 26th 2011.

Porthmadog Station/Signal box

Hello Alan,
Took this photo on July 7th 1986, am I right in thinking the box is no longer there ?
I didn't see a photo of the box on your signalling page for Porthmadog so thought you may like this one.

Regards Allan Judd.

Many thanks for the above photo Allan.

As regarding Porthmadog - the box has now gone.
It went in 1988 when the line was resignalled under the new RETB (Radio Electronic Token Block) and controlled from Machynlleth.
Part of the Cambrian line between Pwllheli and Harlech has been resignalled once again using a new
method of ERTMS (European Railway Traffic Management System), again controlled from a new signalling centre at Machynlleth.
This section of line was commissioned in October and further stages of the Cambrian line will be converted
over to the new system between now and June.

Thanks Alan,

The other thing is that this track diagram of Llanfair PG is very similar to the one you have but has that additional No.6 lever duty
for signalling for the cross-over drawn on it.   Couldn't find any date on the diagram (possibly after 1970 ).

Thanks for the above diagram Allan. It must date after the bridge fire as a shuttle service was running between Holyhead and Llanfair P.G.
I do remember a Class 24 loco and 5 ? coaches used.
When the train arrived Llanfair (temporary up platform) the loco would detach and ran light engine to Gaerwen.
At Gaerwen the engine was crossed over to the up line and ran light engine back to Llanfair where it would attach its train.
After attaching, the train was propelled back over the crossing and the crossover to enable it to return for Holyhead.

The up and down lines towards Britannia Bridge were temporarily closed.
After 1972 (when the bridge reopened) the Down line over the bridge became an Engineers Siding and the
single line utilized the up part of the bridge.
This was done so that the engineers could remove the remaining sections of the old "tube" sections.

The method of working between Llanfair PG and Menai Bridge was "Tokenless Block" and was fully track circuited.
The box at Menai Bridge closed on 2nd December 1973 under the Stage 2 of Britannia Bridge Resignalling
and at the same time Llanfair PG was reduced from a signalbox to a gate box under control
of Bangor which had its lever frame reduced from 90 to 60 levers.

The up side of the bridge became an engineers siding while the main line over the bridge was transferred over to the down side.
The remaining tube sections were removed and connections to the siding from either end were controlled
by ground frames electrically released by key from Bangor signalbox.

The former Caernarfon line was also in the process of getting lifted with access via the sidings at
Menai Bridge yard (again all released by key from Bangor signalbox).

  Diagram of Llanfair PG 2008.

The 18 lever frame at Llanfair PG was reduced in 1974 to 4 levers and the gate wheel removed.

Llanfair PG box exterior in 2000.


January 25th 2011.

The completed refurbishment of Bangor signalbox, 2010. (exterior view)

View of Bangor tunnel portal from the station. The tunnel portal has an Egyptian style facade.
The Down home signal is bracketed out so that sighting can be achieved for drivers in the tunnel.

Ground disc signal at the entrance of Belmont tunnel. This signal has 5 routes ;
Up Loop, Up Main, Down Main, Down Loop and Sidings.

BR49 & BR55 signals located at the Llandudno Junction end reading from the Up Main and Up Loop.
The same structure used to carry semaphore signals until July 1973.
The whole of the Bangor area was resignalled to colour lights in conjunction with the Brittania Bridge Resignalling.
Menai Bridge signalbox was abolished, Llanfair PG signalbox was made to a crossing box and the lever frame
at Bangor reduced from 90 to 60 levers.
The space formerly occupied by levers 61 - 90 was partitioned off and converted to a relay room for the new signalling.

July 31st 2010.
Ex - signalman Andrew Parry has sent in the photos below, showing various signal box locations, taken while
he worked on the local rail network.

Interior of Llanfair PG box.

Gaerwen Box

This diagram was dated 1984 and was sent in by Allan Judd.

The frame of Gaerwen Box.

Slightly better shot of Llanfair PG Box.

Long shot of Llanfairfechan Railway Station.

Inside shot of Bangor Box with Derek Evans on Duty (little out of focus sorry)

Outside shot of Llanfair PG Box.

Track level shot looking at the down side line towards Holyhead.

Night time shot of Llanfair PG Box Frame.

High shot of Bangor station.

Shot of freight liner bound for Holyhead from Bangor signal Box (Signalman Derek Evans on duty that day)

Up line shot taken from Llanfair PG Box.

Another Track level shot looking at the down side line towards Holyhead.


May 22nd 2010.


The first photo shows the token instrument at Blaenau Ffestiniog.
This is the other end of the single line section from Llanrwst.

Only one train at a time can travel on the single line following the token given to the driver by the signaller at Llanrwst.

Normally if the train returns back to Llanrwst there is no need for the driver to surrender the key token
into the Blaenau Ffestiniog token instrument, but will inform the signaller when he/she leaves Blaenau Ffestiniog.

If there is another train to proceed behind the first one between Llanrwst and Blaenau Ffestiniog
the driver of the first train upon arrival at Blaenau Ffestiniog will operate the ground frame
(seen in the second and third photo)
to enable his train to be put into the siding out of the way for the second train.
When the shunt movement has finished and the driver communicates with the signaller at Llanrwst
he will then insert the key token in the Blaenau Ffestiniog instrument ;
this will then enable the signaller at Llanrwst to obtain another key token out of his token instrument
for the second train to proceed between Llanrwst and Blaenau Ffestiniog.

The second and third photos show lever No1 on one of the ground frames and where the key
token is inserted to operate the levers.


Three photos of Rockcliffe Hall signal box are shown below.
The box opened in 1995 replacing an older structure prior to the building of the over bridge nearby
which was built on the site of the old box.
The box works to Holywell Junction SB and Chester PSB.


May 6th 2010.
The three photos below show Talacre signalbox following its refurbishment with new windows.
This leaves Mostyn signalbox the only remaining signalbox on the coast to be refurbished


February 25th 2010.

Bangor signalbox refurbishment commenced on Monday 16th November 2009.
Refurbishment includes new roof, windows, doors, central heating, new kitchen and work tops.
The original wooden finials at the gable ends have been painted and will stay during the refurbishment.

The two photographs below show Bangor box after refurbishment.
Both photos Alan Roberts.



October 21st 2009.


The latest signalling alterations to have taken place at Wrexham (Croes Newydd North Fork box) has signalled the end of the last semaphore signals in the Wrexham area. In the early 1980's no fewer than four boxes controlled an area of the main line through Wrexham General station starting from the Chester end :-
WREXHAM NORTH  (closed 16th March 1986)
WREXHAM EXCHANGE controlled connections on the Bidston lines (closed 27th March 1988)
CROES NEWYDD SOUTH FORK (controlled East to South connections from yard) (Closed 5th February 1984)
** Another box at WREXHAM SOUTH was located between Wrexham General station and Croes Newydd North Fork signalbox (closed 27th October 1968)
There was also a box at each end of Croes Newydd yards ; East box controlled the West end of the triangle from North and South Fork boxes and West box controlled the top end of the yards at the Brymbo end. Both of these boxes closed in 1984 when traffic on the line to Brymbo ceased operations.
With the commissioning of the new signalling it has ended the final days of oil lamping carried out by the lampman in North


October 14th 2009.

Two photos of Llysfaen are shown below.
Llysfaen Signalbox ; Sept 1980
Class 56 hauling the return PFA working from Llandudno Junction to Fiddlers Ferry Power Station,
passing the signalbox at Llysfaen in 1983.  The PFA (Pulverised Fly Ash) was used for the construction of the foundations for the A55 between Mochdre and Llandudno Junction (Glan Conwy Interchange) and also for the diverted railway between Colwyn Bay and Mochdre at the area around Tan-y-Bryn Road and Station Rd, Mochdre.  




August 25th 2009.

Below is a new diagram of Caersws Crossing following the installation of barriers in readiness with the new ERTMS signalling for the Cambrian line - now targeted for 2010 !!


A diagram of Pwllheli West Ground Frame is shown below.
This was the former West signalbox at Pwllheli which now houses a reduced frame of 4 levers
to control access to the run round and the siding next to the platform line.


July 29th 2009.


The Contractor was Thomas Savin, and he was represented on the works while the line was
under construction by his brother, John. The firm of Davies & Savin, of which Thomas Savin
was a partner, had provided the money for the parliamentary deposit which had to accompany
the Bill in April 1860, and in view of this the directors were not unnaturally anxious that
Davies & Savin should build the line.

However, when the tenders for the work were received it was found that their price was much
higher than any of the others and Davies was asked to reconsider the amount.
His reply was that he had walked over the ground several times and would not take
a farthing less.

He also said that the man who did would repent it and so would the directors.
The result was that Davies & Savin got the contract by Savin carried out the work alone,
David Davies taking no part in the construction of the line.

On 26th February 1862, the directors of the London & North Western Railway with whom arrangements
had been made for the working of the line, made a tour of inspection and on
Saturday 1st March following, the 6½ miles of single line between Denbigh and Ruthin
were opened.

On the 30th June 1862, an Act was obtained which authorised the company to attach a
preference of 5%, to any amount of forfeited shares which could not be sold at a price equal
to the arrears of calls due thereon.

These ordinary shares were cancelled and £48,000 preference £10 shares issued.
The second part of the railway between Ruthin and Corwen, 11¾ miles, was not opened
until September 1864, the delay being partly because of the heavy works at Eyarth rock cutting
and a bridge over the River Dee at Corwen – and partly difficulties in coming to a satisfactory
arrangement with the Llangollen & Corwen and Corwen & Bala Railways (later absorbed by
the GWR) for the use of their station at Corwen which was not then finished.

The original layout of Ruthin from its opening day in 1862 consisted of one platform.
Signalling was controlled by ground frames; the station GF worked the points at the Corwen
end of the station and consisted of a Key Interlocking frame of 8 levers, the frame went to
Islip Station in 1894.

The other GF was located at the North end of the station and controlled the yard connections.
In 1893 Ruthin was resignalled and a new Station GF located on a new down platform in a
12’ x 8’ hut was brought into use.

The second platform was built to admit crossing of passenger trains.

Also the existing loop line was re-laid and a new connection between the loop line and the
through passenger line added.

The new Station GF which also housed the single line instruments had a tumbler frame of
22 levers in which 18 were in use in 1893.

The GF at the yard became bolt locked from the Station GF and some of the signals became
slotted and worked by both frames.  


April 4th 2009.

Below are some photos I took just lately of the manned crossing at Merllyn near Criccieth on the Cambrian Coast line.
Merllyn is one of the remaining three manned crossings left on the Cambrian with semaphore signals.
All will disappear at the end of the year when a new centre at Machynlleth opens and all movements will be
supervised there utilising ERTMS, a new system of signalling which will replace the present
Radio Signalling (RETB) commissioned in 1988.

The other two crossings are located at Caersws station and Llanidloes Road Crossing nearby.
There are two ground frames at Merllyn ; one is a 3-lever controlling the protecting signal each way and a gate lock. The other is a 2-lever frame controlling the Wicket Gate Locks (currently out of use).


Merllyn crossing home signal.

Merllyn 3-lever ground frame. (2-lever out of use)


March 18th 2009.

Below is a 1969 diagram of Llanfair P.G. By this time the goods yard sidings had been removed and were located on the up side of the line on the Holyhead side of the station. The site nowadays is now occupied by Pringles Shop and Café.
The box itself dates back to 1871 and its the last and the oldest of the Chester & Holyhead Railway type boxes in use although nowadays its only used as a crossing box rather than a signal box. Ty Croes, further down the line is the next design introduced in 1871 - 2 of all brick construction and is slightly different to the box at Llanfair. The box originally had a lever frame of 18 levers and a gate wheel, but on the 2nd December 1973 the box ceased to be a block post and became a crossing box and the whole area controlled from Bangor in conjunction with the Britannia Bridge Resignalling following the bridge fire in May 1970. In 1974 the lever frame was reduced from 18 to 4 levers and the crossing gates became hand operated.
Nowadays the crossing box is only manned between 0700 - 2300 daily; the crossing closes during the night where traffic can use the A4080 road instead of taking a short cut across to the A5 road at Llanfair PG .  
First photo shows the diagram in 1969.
Second photo of the diagram as today.
Third photo shows the reduced lever frame as today.


January 10th 2009.

            Prestatyn signalbox opened in March 1897 and was formerly known as No2 box when fully signalled at the turn of the century. It was located in the “V” between the main line and the branch to Dyserth. Originally it measured 21’6” x 12’ x 8’ elev. But was extended to 29’8” x 12’ x 8’ elev to accommodate 15 additional levers when No1 box closed in 1931. A new ground frame opened to control the connections for the goods yard located on the down side on the Chester side of the old station; this was released electrically from the signalbox by lever 45.  The bay platform was used by the Dyserth branch passenger trains which started on Saturday 26th August 1905 and were formed by LNW Rail motors. Leaving the bay platform the train would then reverse and transverse over to the branch via points 39. To enable this move points 34 were fitted with an FPL (numbered 35) and points 39 were fitted similarly with an FPL (numbered 40). Passenger services ceased on the branch on the 20th September 1930 and not long after assuming the FPL’s on points 34 and 39 were removed as the line continued to be used for goods traffic only. Prestatyn survived more or less unchanged for few years later until the 1960’s.
            The first alteration to change Prestatyn was the closure of the goods yard connections and the abolition of the ground frame in April 1965. This was followed when the slow lines were abolished eastwards to Mostyn. The down slow closed to traffic on the 19th March 1967 and was followed a week later when the up slow closed on the 26th March 1967. Slow lines still carried on to Rhyl and beyond. Two sets of new points were put in at Prestatyn and made motor worked to work new connections to the remaining slow lines to and from Rhyl. The up points became 11 and the down became 20. The facing connection in the up Fast was taken out (FPL 19, points 20 and 21), signal 13 fast to slow home was taken away and the up slow distant (8) became fixed. Also the up slow starting (11) was taken away. The former down slow home (31) became a new signal on the same gantry reading from the down main to the down slow through the new connection (20). The down slow distant signal located beneath Nant Hall down slow home was taken away.
            The next alteration to take place happened on Sunday 16th February 1969 when the up slow between Rhyl No1 and Prestatyn closed. This made levers 9, 10, 11 and 12 detonator placer spares. The layout at Prestatyn still coped with heavy traffic during the summer months with the remaining portion of the down slow to Rhyl in use. All down direction traffic from Dyserth had to use the down slow as it was the only connection. Trains from Dyserth running in the up direction ran round in the loop siding behind the signalbox.
            With the decline of traffic on the branch the last shunt trip to Dyserth ran on Friday 7th September 1973 but the connections at Prestatyn remained in situ for another 7 years later ; the sidings used for storage of wagons.

            Nant Hall box closed on Tuesday 16th December 1975 and the down main distant signal (26) moved to
   the top of the post.

            On the 9th March 1980 the official closure of the Dyserth branch took place with all the signalling   
equipment at Prestatyn in conjunction with the branch workings abolished.
The lifting of the branch commenced soon after which left Prestatyn with just the main lines and the former connection off the down slow to the bay platform in use.

            From 1980 at Prestatyn all the connections to and from the Dyserth line were removed except for the connection from the former bay platform to the down slow which was retained as a siding. The other point-work remaining were the crossover connections between the up main to the down fast and slip connection to the down slow and the down main to down slow motor worked points at the Talacre end. In January 1984, the up main home 2 (16) was renewed to a straight post ; the same structure was utilised and moved further down the line to replace a badly corroded lattice base on down fast and slow starters (23 & 29), this took place on the 22nd January 1984.
           Signalling at Prestatyn remained unchanged until the remodelling at Rhyl started in the early 1990. It also coincided with the disastrous floods at Towyn which also breached the sea wall at Mostyn. The main line was closed between Llandudno Junction and Flint from the 26th February and 4th March; the section of line between Holywell Junction and Prestatyn was reopened at 1600hrs. Also during the period of the remodelling at Rhyl the box at Prestatyn was continuously manned to enable down trains to call at Rhyl to travel down slow from Prestatyn as connections in Rhyl No1 were removed to enable new connections to be put in. On Saturday 24th March the block instruments were disconnected to Rhyl and hand signalmen controlled movements between Prestatyn and Abergele in preparations for the commissioning of the new signalling at Rhyl for the following day. On Sunday 25th March the down slow line from approximately ¾ mile beyond Prestatyn to a point on approaching the new facing connection to the down platform at Rhyl was severed. A temporary stop block was erected at Prestatyn and the remaining portion of the line through the former down slow platform became a down siding giving access to the bay siding.  
          The main crossover and slip connection to the down siding (former down slow) was taken out of use from Sunday 18th October 1992 with additional levers 2,4,5 & 6 made spare. This was followed soon after on Sunday 25th October with the remaining connections to the down siding taken out of use pending removal with additional levers 20,31,33,34 & 41 made spare. Also the down main home 2 (24) located by the signalbox was abolished. This left Prestatyn with 4 main line signals on the up and 3 on the down. Lastly this was followed 7 years later with the disconnection of the detonator placers.

          With the increase of line speed on the North Wales Coast planned the up signals at Prestatyn proved to be inadequate to cope with braking distances so on the 17th September 2000 the up home 1  (PN15) was abolished and the up home 2 (PN16) became the up home and renumbered PN15. A double sided fibre-optic “OFF” indicator was also provided for the signal on the up platform. The up distant signal became 1,902 yds from the up home signal.
          Today with only 6 working levers out of the 45, the box only survives to split the section between Talacre and Rhyl and opens between 0620 – 2057, a far cry from the early days when it was a regulating block post.


Prestatyn signal box (above) showing the extension clearly marked on the brickwork after the first
window in the cellar.
The frame was extended from 30 to 45 levers following the closure of No1 box. Nowadays only
6 working levers remain in use ; all other levers have become spares or removed from the frame.

Below is a diagram of Prestatyn in 1980.


January 6th 2008.
A map of the signalling between Rhyl and Abergele in 1960 is shown below.


December 16th 2008.

The two photo's below show Talacre signalbox and the lever frame taken in 2008. (both photo's Alan Roberts)
The box was open in 1903 in conjunction with the expanded layout following the widening of the line between Mostyn and Prestatyn. The box also controlled connections to the Point of Ayr Colliery which closed down in August 1993. Today the connections from the main line to the former colliery still remain but all out of use. The crossover between the main lines is still in use for Single Line Working. Following the closure of the colliery the box opens on early and late turns to split the block section between Prestatyn and Holywell Junction (Mostyn only opens as required following the end of the steel traffic into the docks in October.)




September 12th 2008.

Below is a diagram of Marl Siding located by Pensarn bridge at the Junction.
The main building still stands there today as part of an industrial estate but at one time was a
Buffer Depot for the MOD.

Trains entered the siding from a connection off the Down Slow controlled by a 3 lever ground frame.
The ground frame was released from Mochdre & Pabo signalbox but when the box was switched out
of circuit the release was transferred to Colwyn Bay No2 box.

From dates I have it shows the siding there between 1941 till approx 1963-4 when it was lifted, having
previously closed to rail traffic few years before.


May 31st 2008.

Below is a selection of Cambrian signal boxes.

Most of the remaining boxes on the Cambrian went in 1988 when RETB was introduced from Machynlleth box. In 2009 the remaining signalling on the Cambrian will disappear when ERTMS takes over on the Cambrian. There are 3 manned crossings with signals left on the Cambrian line ; Merllyn Crossing near Criccieth, Caersws (controlled from the former box) and further along from Caersws station, Llanidloes Road Crossing where the A470 road crosses the line. All these are due to go towards the end of this year.

(1) Barmouth
(2) Caersws
(3) Dovey
(4) Machynlleth
(5) Newtown
(6) Talerddig
(7) Towyn
(8) Welshpool
(9) Westbury

               barmouthbox1980comp.jpg (25927 bytes)    caerswsbox1988comp.jpg
          (28100 bytes)   doveyjctbox1984comp.jpg (15137 bytes)   machynnlethbox1987comp.jpg (22120 bytes)   newtownbox1988comp.jpg
          (16507 bytes)
                          (1)                        (2)                           (3)                       (4)                        (5)

                          talerddigbox1988comp.jpg (21278 bytes)       towynbox1984comp.jpg
          (20667 bytes)      welshpoolbox1984comp.jpg (27545 bytes)      westburybox1988comp.jpg (24181 bytes)
                                     (6)                              (7)                           (8)                           (9)



April 15th 2008.

A photo is reproduced below showing the bell outside the signalbox at Deganwy. As far as I know this is the only box that still has a bell outside. In the old days when the box had gates the bell at this box was to warn road traffic that the gates were about to be closed for an approaching train. Later it was also used to aware the platform staff that a train had just left Llandudno Junction so the staff could cross over and meet up
 with the down train.

deganwysblargebellcomp2.jpg (54453 bytes)




March 29th 2008.


Photo below shows Connah's Quay box after the fire on 13th August 1980. It officially closed on the 24th August 1980 and finally demolished on the 10th January 1983.

conquaysbcomp.jpg (16403




March 29th 2008.

Colwyn Bay Down home signals taken in 1979. The main arm read along the down main (lever 34) and the left arm read for movements from the down main to the down loop (Platform 4) (lever 31). Originally the signals used to be Colwyn Bay No1 down homes with distant signals for Colwyn Bay No2 located beneath. The same signals became Down Main Home 1 signals for the new signalbox that opened on the 15th September 1968. The signal reading to the down loop was taken out when the down loop line was taken out on the 14th September 1980. The remaining signal arm lasted until 17th May 1981 when all the semaphore signals on the down main were converted over to colour lights.

          (19222 bytes)




March 28th 2008.

Below is a photo received by Mike Lane of a L&NWR (TRS), Train Ready to Start indicator, which came from Llandudno Junction No2 box.

A Train Ready to Start indicator was operated by the platform staff to indicate to the Signalman when the train was ready to start so that signals could be cleared at the end of the platform. Normal practice was any through trains not stopping on the down the signalman would clear all his signals for the train. Any stopping trains would come to a stand in the platform and the signalman would only clear signals for the departing train to leave only upon the receipt of the platform staff operating usually a plunger working a lit up indicator in the box.

          (23062 bytes)




March 1st 2008.

Llysfaen in 1973. At this time Raynes Sidings were not in frequent use but the sidings at Kneeshaw Lupton Quarry (later known as Powell Duffryn) had a shunt daily into the sidings conveying limestone mainly to Hawarden Bridge serving the steelworks at Shotton. This was only to last till 1975 when the sidings fell into disuse and connections and associated signalling abolished in 1976.

llysfaen73comp.jpg (21674

Wright's Siding was located west of Penmaenmawr and had a standard gauge siding serving an exchange wharf with a narrow gauge with the quarry. The ground frame was abolished in 1952.

            (31249 bytes)

Below is a signalling plan of Tal-y-Cafn in 1980.

The signalling was abolished in 1993 following an incident when a passenger train ploughed through the gates. New gates were ordered and signals were taken out of use including the ground frame on the platform. The crossing was only equipped with distant signals each way as the red targets on the gates acted as stop signals. Up to 1966 there was a crossing loop here and was fully signalled each way including 2 ground frames containing 2 levers each controlling access to the goods yard on the Llanrwst side of the crossing.

          (18465 bytes)





January 6th 2008.


The box here was opened on the 20th December 1953 in conjunction with the construction of the new Central Electricity Authority power station at Connah's Quay. It was a BR Type 14 brick built box similar to the signalbox at Penmaenmawr and controlled access off the main line to new sidings for the power station. It had a LMR Standard lever frame of 30 levers. The power station closed down in 1984 and the sidings taken up shortly afterwards but the box lingered on afterwards for another 11 years as a block post between Holywell Junction and Sandycroft.

The construction of the new A548 road across the River Dee in 1994 spanned the main lines across the site of the box which resulted in the box being relocated a few yards nearer to Chester. The new box opened on the 26th February 1995 and consisted of a control panel in a portakabin structure. The new gas fired power station nearby has no sidings connected to the rail network. Following the closure of Mold Junction and Sandycroft boxes on the 24th January 2005 the box at Rockcliffe Hall became a fringe to Chester Power box.  



                                              rockcliffehalltwocomp.jpg (30916 bytes)                            rockcliffehallonecomp.jpg (49910 bytes)                                        

                                                original box                                      new box



December 12th 2007.

Below is a photo of the Trawsfynydd One Train Working Train Staff. This was made of metal and enabled one train at a time between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Trawsfynydd. The Staff had the label Blaenau Ffestiniog - CEGB Siding on it. The Staff was always kept in Llanrwst box and was handed over to the train crew when required to travel over the section of line additionally to the normal Llanrwst - Blaenau Ffestiniog staff/token. The keys attached to the Staff were for the level crossing gates at Cwmbowydd - the first crossing leaving Blaenau Ffestiniog to Trawsfynydd.

trawsstaffcomp.jpg (14718




November 29th 2007.

I have received this query from John Powell.

Hello Alan, I enclose a photo of two black fives (44714 & 45195) entering Rhyl station on August 29th 1953 
taken by R.J. Blenkinsop, my question is "what was the purpose of the bell on the side of Rhyl's 
No.2 box ?  Was it something to do with the loco shed or some sort of communication
with station staff?"

Cheers John Powell.

              (16329 bytes)                                   rhylbellcomp.jpg (9192 bytes)

Hi John,
 This bell was used for the purpose of shunting across the way at the former goods yard (now occupied mostly where Morrisons stands). The bell was rung to tell the loco crew/shunting staff to clear the point-work to enable other moves to take place. A note of interest in the photograph is the "tail lamp observation lookout" sticking out at the Abergele end of the box. This was for the benefit of the signalman due to the station canopy built all the way along the up platform towards the signalbox obscuring the view from the box to observe tail lamp of up trains into the up platform or moving along the up fast towards Rhyl No1 box. The canopy was shortened in the late 1960's but the tail lamp observation lookout remained attached to the box until September 1978 when it was declared unsafe and no further use for it.

Outside bells on signal boxes were quite common for LNW signal boxes. One such bell still hangs on its bracket at Deganwy, although not used nowadays. Here, it was used for the level crossing gates, and was rung by the signalman to warn motorist and users that the gates required to be shut and a train was due.





December 5th 2007.

Below is a photograph of the down starting signal for Llandudno Junction and the down distant for Deganwy (semaphore). The signal has a bit of history to it :-

Originally the signa
l was Llandudno Junction Crossing's down starting with Deganwy No1 distant beneath. With the closure of Deganwy No1 box on the 28th May 1967 the distant signal became Deganwy No2 down distant signal. With the distance of 1,220yds from the home and a distance of nearly one mile from the box the signal was never used and was kept at caution at all times. Further alterations took place from the 8th June 1969 when Llandudno Junction Crossing box closed and the down starting abolished. The distant signal for Deganwy was moved to the top of the post. The former down home for Llandudno Junction Crossing slotted with Llandudno Junction (No2) and located near the box became the starting signal for the box.


 jctsignal68comp.jpg (12097 bytes)



December 6th 2007.

Below is a 1964 interior view of Colwyn Bay No2 signalbox. This box together with No1 box was closed on the 15th September 1968 and replaced by a new box.

colbay2boxcomp.jpg (16487 bytes)




December 6th 2007.

Below are internal and external views of Rhyl signalbox taken in August 2007 following its refurbishment.
 This box together with the former No2 box located at the Abergele end of the station
 are both Grade 2 listed status.

 The former No2 box closed on the 25th March 1990 with new signalling controlled from No1 box
 which was renamed RHYL.

          (34797 bytes)                                               rhyl2extcomp95.jpg (21283 bytes)
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