By Bob Stevens
" I suppose Towcester station was fairly unusual in that although two tracks entered the station and two left at the other end, they were all single lines so that freight entered and departed from and to four different destinations.This caused quite a bit of shunting off the main tracks and into the yard, removing wagons for Towcester or onward transmission to destinations other than those which that particular train was bound. The signal box was obviously quite involved in these movements although in the yard, ground frames were mainly used.
The box itself, like many others, was heated by a little coal stove which also served to boil kettles, heat saucepans and cook toast. As coal was not supplied in the summer fuel at this time was obtained from the tenders of 3f Johnson/Deely and 4f Fowler 0-6-0's which, in my time there, were the only form of motive power I saw.
A staff system was in use on all four lines and, as far as I can recall, Towcester being the main and largest station on the lines all trains changed staff's there. The signalman could stand on the steps of the box to give and receive the staff from Blisworth to Banbury trains but had to cross the tracks for trains in the other direction.
The box had windows at either end and all along the side facing the station booking office, pump room and porter/shunters room. I think there were windows at the far end facing the sheep or cattle pens off the Tiffield road. The frames in which the staff's were locked were just inside the door on the right as you entered the box from the steps.
From the box you had a view past the water tower, over the bridge carrying the tracks over the A5 and to the tracks curving away to the right before they seperated. You also looked over the platform passenger hut to the turntable. Directly opposite the box were the two corrugated iron, lamp and parrafin huts and behind them a loading bay frequently used for Racehorses from the Towcester Racetrack. This bay was protected by catch points.
Looking in the Blisworth direction one had a view as far as the Tiffield Rd. overbridge where the Roade line curved away to that destination. Slightly left of that was the entrance to the cutting carrying the Blisworth line.
There were fixed distant signals on all four approaches to Towcester requiring the maintenance of parrafin lamps for 24/7 duty and it was a good walk out to them when brake van rides were not available. All home signals were operated from the box as were all the points within the station and starter signals with the exception of the aforementioned ground frames."
Towcester Box Frame layout
Towcester's Signal Box.1964 by J Cosford.
Add a Comment