NEWS 2013

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November and December

A couple of projects were started and progressed over these two months. (We tend to do the larger jobs during the Winter months when we've got longer between Open Afternoons in which to do things!)

Shelter for tea-makers and greeters

We've erected an improved shelter for the greeters and tea-makers. We had only a lightweight one which couldn't be easily shielded on the sides when it was windy or wet - or both. The new 'Barn' style shelter, being more substantial, is easier to attach plastic sheeting to. Work is continuing to make a 'valance' to adorn the front of the shelter to make it resemble a platform awning. (See 2014's news-page for the completed structure.)

Footpath lighting
(a)                                         (b)                                     (c)                                           (d)

In 2011 we set up a wood trunking along the periphery of the box garden to carry various cables. In front of the box the trunking also contained LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) to light the path. Unfortunately these LEDs were not well-protected and by late 2013 nearly half of them were not working.
(a) The original trunking had also need replacing; this photo shows the new trunking in place.
A completely new set of LEDs was fitted. They were made weather-proof with heat-shrink sleeving.
(b) gives a general view of the renewal in progress;
(c) is a close-up showing the junction between two sections of the trunking.

(d) shows the final effect at night.


More items lent to us by the Roy Burrows Collection:

(a)                                                                                       (b)

(a)Track diagramIt dates from December 1915 when the first 'track circuits' were installed at St Albans. It has been put on display on the first floor of the box almost opposite where it was once in use. The subtle colouring was done by hand using water-colour paints. It has to be kept covered with a light-tight cloth when we are closed so that it isn't faded by the light. 

(b) Tyer Single Line Tablet Machines: These were found one each end of a line of single track. Electrically connected together, only one 'tablet' token could be taken out at a time. Once removed from one machine, both were then locked and no other token could taken out until the one removed had been replaced into one of the machines at one end or the other of that section of line.


Second Midland signal in the garden.

As a result of the resourcefulness, ingenuity and sheer hard work of the members involved, we now have a second working Midland Railway signal in the garden.  The steel corrugated arm and the livery together would have applied from 1914 onwards, and represent a different era to the first signal, which is pre-1906.  It is operated from the LNWR ground frame lever, and is weighted so that it will test the strength of our visitors who are willing to have a go!

(a)                                   (b)                               (c)                                (d)

(a) The concrete base for the new signal is being prepared by filling a large hole with concrete; four large threaded studs are held in place by timbers to be included in the concrete for the next stage.
(b) A fabricated steel foot is firmly held by the cast-in studs to take the bottom of the post. This is the way we supported our first signal and overcomes the problems of such posts becoming rotten when inserted into the soil directly; this prolongs their life significantly.
(c) The new signal seen from the front;
(d) and from the rear. At the time of erection we did not have the lampman's platform to hand to add to the ladder.

We are very grateful to the Roy Burrows Collection for the long-term loan of most of the signal parts, to Derby Museum for one of the cranks, and to the NRM for the post and finial.

We continue to find new styles of mile-posts - this version is a British Railways Fibre-glass one:






The last two working signalmen are reunited!

During the August 11th Open Day, the last two signalmen to operate the box met up for the first time since Steve Lake handed over to Geoff Ryland for Geoff to work the last shift before the box closed in December 1979. Steve is on the left and Geoff on the right in the near photo, both are seen back on the frame in the right-hand photo with Geoff nearest the camera.




Green light banner appears outside the box

In late July, the banner repeater on the down fast outside the box was replaced so that it can show green. See picture - as normal, horizontal means the main signal is red, and now white diagonal means yellow or double-yellow, with green diagonal meaning the signal is green. It seems that to achieve a fractional improvement in time-keeping, a train running on a previous yellow aspect can now accelerate that bit sooner on seeing the green banner rather than waiting to see the main signal. Also note the new symbol on the number plate that means that the banner is capable of displaying a green aspect. (The original design was to have used a vertical black bar for indicating a green signal ahead!)

Thanks to the photographer for capturing (in the first image) the point where the repeater indicates red, but as can be seen, the signal is green. A horizontal bar indicates the signal is at red, is the rule.  However, here the train has passed the repeater, but not passed the main signal.  (The train can be seen in the image). This temporary state ensures that the repeater gives the earliest warning that the sector ahead is occupied.  Simply copying the main signal would delay this warning.

March to May

5 years on and time for a repaint

Like us, the signal box gets no younger, so many thanks are due to our volunteers and our professional painter for the recent repainting and clean-up. 


Elsewhere round the site the acquisition of some 200 paving slabs free of charge has, at the expense of some labour, enabled us to improve pathways and display areas:

(a)                                                           (b)                                                      (c)

(a) In January the Midland Railway ground frame was set up at the north end of the garden;
(b) by May the new paving slabs had been laid around the ground frame;
(c) across the top of the garden and down to meet the main path through the garden.


January to March

One of our members spotted an unusual item for sale and brought it to the box:

(a)                                                          (b)                                                             (c)

(a) This is a minature lever frame, possibly made for a garden railway, we don't know for sure.
(b) It's great attraction is the 'Tappet Interlocking' seen here which is a simple way we can show our visitors the principle of interlocking done on a larger scale upstairs in the box.
(c) Later in the year we had it mounted on a mobile stand and connected to some model signals that are electrically worked, seen here on display on the new paving outside the lamp hut.

Roy Burrows Collection

At the end of January several members were invited to view the "Roy Burrows Collection", possibly the single largest collection of Midland Railway artefacts - some 40,000 of them - and discussion took place about displaying some of these items at our box. Some of the things that were seen:


Agreement will need to be reached with the Trustees of the collection before we receive any items.