Preston Station - Past & Present
PRESTON SIGNALLING
Preston Signalling
by David Ingham
Introduction
When Preston station was signalled by the London & North Western Railway it was in an age before track circuits, when a signalman could only see what he was doing by looking out of the window. Due to the size of the station, coupled with the fact that station buildings obstructed the view from signal box windows, it needed several signal boxes to control the layout.

The following table shows the running lines listed in the 1931 London Midland & Scottish Railway Company sectional appendix showing the lines on which the signal boxes controlled trains and the direction of travel.

Preston No.5

Down Through

Up Through

Down Slow

Up Slow

   

Down Fast

Up Fast

 
 

   

 

Preston No.4

Down Through

Up Through

Down Slow

Up Slow

No.3 Platform

Down Loop

Down Fast

Up Fast

Up Loop

 

 

Preston No.2

No.3 Platform

Down Loop

Down Fast

 

 

Preston No.2a

Down Through

Up Through

Down Slow

Up Slow

No.3 Platform

 

 

Preston No.3

 

Up Fast

Up Loop

 

 

Preston No.1

Down Through

Up Through

Down Slow

Up Slow

 

Down Loop

Down Fast

Up Fast

Up Loop

The Up Loop, and Down Loop were named No.7 Platform, and No.4 Platform respectively in the 1960 BR sectional appendix.

The signalling at Preston station which was installed by the LNWR should have been replaced by the LMSR in the early 1940s. But as a result of the Second World War the scheme was postponed, and eventually abandoned. Two Westinghouse Brake & Signal Company Limited ‘L’ style miniature lever electric power frames were ordered by the LMSR in April 1939. Frame number 98, ordered for Preston North signal box, was a 227 lever frame consisting of 58 point levers, 135 signal levers, 8 special levers, 12 spare levers, and 14 spaces. Frame number 99, ordered for Preston South signal box, was also a 227 lever frame but consisting of 54 point levers, 143 signal levers, 11 special levers, 9 spares levers, and 10 spaces.

One of the frames was delivered into storage at Lytham St. Annes and the Preston North frame eventually found use at a new signal box at London Euston station in 1952. Someone must know where the other frame went; a 227 lever frame does not fit in your back pocket, or even a garden shed. Not even a miniature lever one. And hopefully someone will know if it was the Preston North frame that was in store at Lytham St. Annes.

 

London & North Western Railway Signalling
West Coast Main Line

(From the 1931 LMSR sectional appendix)

Oxheys signal box was an LMSR built replacement in 1923. It was a LNWR type 5 design fitted with a 50 lever LNWR Tappet frame.

Greenbank Sidings signal box (793 yards from Oxheys) was opened in 1902 (probably a LNWR type 4 design) fitted with a 60 lever LNWR Tumbler frame although only 46 levers were fitted. It was closed on 9th March 1969.

Preston No.5 signal box (844 yards from Greenbank Sidings) was opened in 1900. It was a LNWR type 4 design fitted with a 126 lever LNWR Tumbler frame.

Preston No.4 signal box (389 yards from Preston No.5) was opened in 1902. It was a LNWR type 4 design and opened fitted with a 162 lever LNWR Tumbler frame. The frame was extended to 184 levers (numbered A to S and 1 to 166) in 1909. The LMSR fitted a replacement LNWR Tappet frame in 1947 which was had the same numbering. It seems likely that this box was the reason for the power signalling scheme. Also the LMSR were installing frames of 4½" pitch which meant all the signal wires and point rodding would have to be relocated or renewed. A more modern frame, tappet locking instead of tumbler locking, of the same pitch made the job easier. Hence a LNWR frame being installed in 1947.

Preston No.2 signal box (378 yards from Preston No.4) was opened in 1880s (probably a LNWR type 4 design) fitted with a 39 lever LNWR Tumbler frame. It was closed on 15th January 1961.

Preston No.2a signal box (396 yards from Preston No.4) was an LNWR replacement in the 1900s. It was a LNWR type 4 design fitted with a LNWR Tumbler frame. It was closed on 16th May 1971.

Preston No.3 signal box (427 yards from Preston No.4) was opened in 1880s. It was a LNWR type 4 design fitted with a 31 lever LNWR Tumbler frame. The box was extended in 1922 to allow the frame to be extended. It was closed on 12th March 1972.

Preston No.1 signal box (325 yards from Preston No.2, 300yards from Preston No.2a, 279 yards from Preston No.3) was opened in 1901. It was a LNWR type 4 design fitted with a LNWR Tumbler frame.

Ribble Siding signal box (581 yards from Preston No.1) was opened in 1900. It was a LNWR type 4 design fitted with a LNWR Tumbler frame. The box was replaced in 1953.

Strand Road Branch

Ribble Sidings signal box - see above

Preston No.1a signal box (315 yards from Ribble Sidings) was an LNWR replacement in the 1900s. It was a LNWR type 4 design fitted with a LNWR Tumbler frame.

Strand Road signal box (983 yards from Preston No.1a) was a LNWR Hut fitted with an outside 7 lever LNWR frame. It was reduced to a shunting frame on 4th February 1973 and was closed on 24th November 1984. The hut remained as a shelter for a crossing keeper required for traffic to and from Preston Docks.

Longridge Branch

Preston No.5 signal box - see above

Maudland Curve signal box (300 yards from Preston No.5) was opened in the 1880s. It was a LNWR type 4 design fitted with a 15 lever LNWR Tumbler frame and it was damaged by fire in April 1965. It was hastily replaced by a temporary signal box located in a platelayer’s cabin. The fire damaged signal box was official closed on 14th April 1965 and was demolished on 16th May 1965, the same day as the temporary signal box was closed.

Deepdale Junction signal box (1 mile 406 yards from Maudland Curve) was a LNWR type 4 design signal box opened between 1876 1882 and  fitted with a 21 lever LNWR Tumbler frame. The frame was replaced by a LNWR Tappet frame and the box was extended in 1926.

Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Signalling
Preston No.4 signal box - see LNWR Signalling

Preston No.3 signal box - see LNWR Signalling

Preston E.L. Goods Yard signal box (631 yards from Preston No.4, and 236 yards from Preston No.3) was opened in 1873. It was a Saxby & Farmer type 6 design and was fitted with a 54 lever Saxby & Farmer frame. The frame was relocked in 1885 and had been extended to 55 levers by 1914. A replacement 56 lever LYR Tappet frame was installed in 1927 by the LMSR. It was closed as part of Preston power signal box Stage 7 on 3rd February 1973 which involved closure of the former LYR station.

Whitehouse North Junction signal box (805 yards from Preston E.L. Goods Yard) was opened in 1900. It was a LYR Standard design fitted with a 26 lever LYR Tappet frame and was closed on 7th September 1964 although it was not officially abolished until 3rd October 1964.

Preston & Wyre Joint Railway Signalling
Blackpool and Fleetwood line

Preston No.5 signal box - see LNWR Signalling

Maudland Viaduct signal box (844 yards from Preston No.5) was opened in 1889. It was a Railway Signal Company Limited Standard design fitted with a 42 lever Railway Signal Company Limited frame.

In the early 1950s the signalling at Ribble Sidings was renewed by British Railways which involved the replacement of the LNWR signal box by two signal boxes. An LMSR type 11c design signal box (751 yards to Preston No.1 and 485 yards to Preston No.1a box) fitted with a 50 London Midland Region Standard frame was opened to control the main lines. The signal box and frame were moved from the former CLCR terminus at Southport Station where it opened on 25th September 1949 and closed on 7th July 1953. A new London Midland Region type 15 design signal box a fitted with a 20 lever London Midland Standard frame was opened in 1954 to control the connections with Ribble Sidings. It was named Ribble Yard Ground Frame and remained in use after the opening of Preston power signal box. It gradually petered out of existence, falling into disuse in the late 1980s and being demolished in the early 1990s although it was not officially abolished until 11th November 2000.

Preston "Power Box"
The current signalling at Preston station is controlled from Preston power signal box located on the site of the former Preston engine shed. The signal box opened on 21st October 1972 and was one of several commissioned by British Railways in the early 1970s as apart of the preperation for the introduction of the ‘Inter City Electric Scots’. The signalling in Preston power signal box is controlled from Westinghouse Brake & Signal Company Limited "entrance-exit" panel and was commissioned in stages.

Stage 1, (planned for 21st and 22nd October 1972 but postponed and implemented with stage 2), Standish Junction to Farington Junction, and Blackrod Junction to Euxton Junction
This stage involved the closure of Blainscough Sidings, Balshaw Lane, Euxton Junction, Leyland, Chorley No.1, Chorley No.4 and Euxton No.1 signal boxes. Chorley No.3 signal box remained, as before, as a gate box.

Stage 2, (4th and 5th November 1972), Farington Junction to Skew Bridge, Hospital Crossing to Farington Curve Junction, Lostock Hall Junction to Farington Junction, and Midge Hall to Farington Curve Junction
This stage involved the closure of Farington Junction, Farington Curve Junction, Lostock Hall Junction, Lostock Hall Station and Lostock Hall Engine Shed signal boxes. Midge Hall signal box was replaced by a new one and Bamber Bridge Station signal box was reduced to a gate box.
Chris Littleworth’s book Signal Boxes on Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Lines gives Lostock Hall Station as closing on 27th February 1972.

Stage 3, (18th and 19th November 1972), Oxheys to Bay Horse
This stage involved the closure of Barton & Broughton, Brock and Garstang & Catterall signal boxes.
In the event, Brock signal box was did not close as planned but was reduced to a gate box. Finally closing on 14th March 1976.

Stage 4, (26th November 1972), Bay Horse to Lancaster No.1
This stage involved the closure of Bay Horse and Oubeck signal boxes

Stage 5, (6th and 7th January 1973), Lancaster No.1 to Carnforth No.1 Junction
This stage involved the closure of Lancaster No.1, Lancaster No.2, Lancaster No.3, Lancaster No.4, and Morecambe South Junction signal boxes. Hest Bank signal box was reduced to a gate box.

Stage 6, (20th and 21st January 1973), Carnforth No.1 Junction to Burton & Holme
This stage involved the closure of Carnforth No.1 Junction signal box.

Stage 7, (3rd and 5th February 1973), Skew Bridge to Oxheys, Preston No.5 to Salwick, Strand Road branch, and Deepdale branch
This stage involved the closure of Skew Bridge, Ribble Sidings, Preston No.1, Preston No.1A, Preston No.4, Preston No.5, Oxheys, Maudland Viaduct, Ashton, and Salwick No.1 signal boxes. Strand Road signal box was reduced to a shunting frame.

Further re-signalling on the East Lancashire line 1973 resulted in Preston power signal box controlling trains in Yorkshire. Again this was commissioned in stages.

Stage A (27th and 28th September 1973), Hospital Crossing to Church East, Bromley Cross to Blackburn Bolton Junction, and Daisyfield Junction to Daisyfield Station
This stage involved the closure of Hoghton, Cherry Tree Junction, Taylor Street, Blackburn Bolton Junction, Bolton Branch Junction, Daisyfield Junction, Whitebirk East, and Rishton Station signal boxes. Hospital Crossing signal box was reduced to a gate box.
Chris Littleworth’s book Signal Boxes on Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Lines gives Stage A as taking place on 23rd September 1973 including Hoghton signal box not closing as planned but being reduced to a gate box. Hoghton signal box closed on 1st December 1976.

Stage B (7th and 8th October 1973), Church East to Copy Pit, and Gannow Junction to Burnley Central
This stage involved the closure of Church East, Accrington West, Accrington North, Huncoat Power Station, Rose Grove West, Gannow Junction, Rose Grove West, Rose Grove East, Gannow Junction, and Burnley Manchester Road. Huncoat Station, and Towneley West signal boxes were reduced to a gate boxes.
Chris Littleworth's book Signal Boxes on Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Lines gives Rose Grove Up Exchange Sidings signal box as also closing, and Huncoat Power Station signal box being reduced to a shunting frame, before finally closing on 22nd November 1981.

Stage C (21st and 22nd October 1973), Copy Pit to Hall Royd Junction, and Smithy Bridge to Hebden Bridge
This stage involved the closure of Copy Pit, Stansfield Hall, Summit West, Todmorden, Hall Royd Junction, and Eastwood signal boxes. Portsmouth, and Walsden signal boxes were reduced to a gate boxes.