Great Western Echo – No.67. Autumn 1979 pp, 15-16
‘Radstock Signalbox’ by Alan Price

© Great Western Society

The rebuilding of Radstock box has now reached the point when we can reveal what we hope to be able to achieve in the area around the box on the new Didcot running line. The plan was drawn-up by Brian Hillier who is now busy working on the mechanics associated with relocking the existing frame to work this layout.

Obviously the plan is a hybrid because of the location and should not be identified with any prototype. However, we have tried to do it in the way we imagine the G.W. would have signalled such a location, balanced against the requirements of any inspection on behalf of the DOE. Clearly there are many things one could put in e.g. the distinctive G.W. backing signal, but on this scale and with this layout we have felt that to put all we would like in would produce a claustrophobic confusion in such a small space. Clearly we would like to have been able to put a starter between the box and the transfer shed but there is just not the room for one and we have had to devise a slotting system with signals at that end of the site which will we hope in time be controlled from some sort of second box.

Mechanically the system will work on three modes of operation to suit Didcot's requirements.
1. A "One-Engine-in-Steam" train staff will be provided with a key and will repose in the Didcot office. The insertion of this key in a lock on Lever No. 9 will allow this lever to be pulled and will allow signals Nos. 2, 4, 16 & 20 and points 11 and 14 to be reversed with gate lock 13 and Facing Point Lock 15. When the train staff is removed this situation will be locked in position for normal day to day and off-season shunting from the depot to the transfer shed area without passing any signal at danger.
2. A second "O.E.S." staff will be provided which will release Lever No. 10 which will allow signals 3, 4, 19 & 20 to be pulled-off and the point, gate-lock and F.P.L. movements to effectively lock a train onto the running line when the staff is removed and given to the driver. This will be for normal Open Day one engine operation.
3. At all other times with Levers 9 and 10 locked normal, the frame will be locked in the normal manner to prevent conflicting movements and will require a signalman on duty. It will also be necessary to open the box when a movement is required to get a train on and off the full length of new running line.

This might seem complicated, indeed it is complicated, but it is necessary so that no signal is passed in the danger position at any time, yet still retaining the ability to have train movements around the area during the week or in the off-seasons.

It is anticipated that a number of signalmen will be trained to operate the box and that on most major Open Days we will be able to have someone on duty to demonstrate 'signalling G.W. style'.

Electrically we are not yet certain what needs to be done but it seems likely that some form of track circuiting will be needed within the 'section' between the box and the end of the line. We have also been fortunate in obtaining a pair of staff instruments which originated at Ross-on-Wye and these are now being rewired ready for installation on the system.

At present our short term aims are to complete the box and relocking and then go ahead and do the exterior mechanics in the immediate vicinity. The long term situation will depend very much on what eventually happens at the transfer shed end but at present it would seem that it may be necessary to provide a second signalbox there. The situation depends very much on how much longer the Bristol Group can continue the gruelling pace of the past three years and how much labour is available to us at the time.

Once again our thanks for the response to appeals in recent newsletters. At present we are short of signal-lamps, rodding, a detonator placer and a calling-on signal. Work in the Bristol area is progressing well on restoring signal and ground equipment which has been farmed-out to several members. Also we have received from a foundry a complete set of new lever brasses which are being prepared for engraving. Our thanks to Fred Gray and his team for kindly taking-on the erection of the lamp hut next to the box which has allowed us to concentrate on the main task.

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