Structure / Site Summary for 248480

Blea Moor Signal Box (1941 - present)

Blea Moor Signal Box: West elevation view

Key details from the SCRCA Structure Record

Brief description: Blea Moor Signal Box (1941 - present)

Assessment status: Assessed

Location 1 - Rail-miles: 248

Location 2 - Chains: 39.00

Location 3 - Position relative to main running lines (tracks): Up

Is a structure of this type shown at this location on the MR 1911 landplan?: No

Construction / installation period: LMSR

Current Use: Railway ops

Visibility: Visible

Accessibility (ease of access): Moderate


Image Gallery

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1: Context views

19 July 2012
Blea Moor Signal Box: Context view from the north     
19 July 2012
Blea Moor Signal Box: Context view from the south     
19 July 2012
Blea Moor Signal Box: Context view to the north     
19 July 2012
Blea Moor Signal Box: Context view to the south     
19 July 2012
Blea Moor Signal Box: Context view to the west     
24 March 2012
Blea Moor Signal Box: Context view from the south-west     
12 July 1982
Blea Moor Sidings (Up side): Context view from the north     
16 February 1979
Blea Moor Signal Box and 'Up' Tank-House from southwest plus railway snow plough     
Early 1960s, probably 1963
248480: Blea Moor Signal Box (1941 - present): Context view from the north west     
Early 1960s, probably 1963
248480: Blea Moor Signal Box (1941 - present): Context view from the north west     
Early 1960s, probably 1963
248480: Blea Moor Signal Box (1941 - present): Context view from the south west     
Early 1960s, probably 1963
248480: Blea Moor Signal Box (1941 - present): Context view from the south west     
Early 1960s, probably 1963
248480: Blea Moor Signal Box (1941 -present): Elevation view from the south west     
Blea Moor Sidings: Context view from the north     
Blea Moor Signal Box and lamp hut plus Blea Moor Sidings from the north     
Blea Moor Signal Box and lamp hut plus Blea Moor Sidings from the southwest     
Circa 1954
Blea Moor Signal Box and Railway Workers' Cottages: Context view from the north     

2: Elevation views

02 February 2013
Blea Moor Signal Box: Elevation view from the south-east     
19 July 2012
Blea Moor Signal Box: West elevation view     
19 February 2012
Blea Moor Signal Box: Elevation view from the south-east     
25 March 2011
Blea Moor Signal Box: South-east elevation view     

3: Detail views

19 July 2012
Blea Moor Signal Box Interior: Block shelf (1)     
19 July 2012
Blea Moor Signal Box Interior: Block shelf (2)     
19 July 2012
Blea Moor Signal Box Interior: Lever frame (1)     
19 July 2012
Blea Moor Signal Box Interior: Lever frame (2)     
19 July 2012
Blea Moor Signal Box Interior: Lever frame (3)     
19 July 2012
Blea Moor Signal Box Interior: Track layout panel (1)     
19 July 2012
Blea Moor Signal Box Interior: Track layout panel (2)     

4: Cab-views

30 August 2012
Blea Moor Signal Box (1941 - present)     

Knowledge Base

At a glance (key statistics)

Location

OS Grid reference: SD 75773 80596.

Latitude:  54.220491, Longitude: -2.3730889999999363.).

Distance (rail-miles) from London St Pancras: 248 miles, 39 chains.

Distance (rail-miles) from Settle Junction: approximately 14.7 miles.

Date of construction

The current box opened on:

  • 20th September 1941 (Anderson & Fox, 1986), or
  • December 16th, 1941 (Gough, 1989). ?? Which date applies ??
Design type

LMS type 11c signal box, modified in ?? possibly 2002/3 ?? to provide an enclosed toilet at the top of the external steps.

Construction materials Two-bay timber frame on a brick base with slate roof. The original single-glazed timber window frames were replaced with new wooden double-glazed units circa 2002/3.[JH]
Control equipment Mechanical, using a 1941 REC* 30 lever frame with tappet locking.
* REC is an abbreviation for "Railway Executive Committee" (the government-appointed organisation that controlled Britain's railways during the Second World War).[DL]
Protection level Located in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Settle-Carlisle Railway Conservation Area.

Additional information

  • The first signal box at Blea Moor opened on August 2nd, 1875. It was located on the 'Down' side at 248 miles 42 chains (SCRCA Structure 248590). It was replaced twice (on December 4th, 1892 and June 28th, 1914) with new structures located on approximately the same site. However, to facilitate the extension of Blea Moor Sidings during World War 2, the structure had to be demolished. The replacement signal box (the current structure) was constructed the 'Up' side and it opened on either 20th September or December 16th, 1941 (see 'at a glance' above).
     
  • Blea Moor signal box originally controlled train movements in the Blea Moor Sidings area (see SCRCA Structures 248450 and 248620). Main line train movements were coordinated with Ribblehead signal box to the south and Dent Head signal box to the north. Dent Head signal box closed on 11 April 1965 and Ribblehead signal box closed on 17 August 1969. As a result of these and other signal box closures, Blea Moor signal box now coordinates main line train movements with Settle Junction signal box to the south and Garsdale signal box to the north and directly controls train movements in the following area:
     
    • In the 'Down' direction: the Ribblehead station area (from the colour light signal at the south end of the 'Down' platform ?? is this correct and what is its proper name ??) to the ?? what is the name of this signal ?? at the north end of Blea Moor Sidings (including the ground frame for Ribblehead Quarry Sidings).[JH]
       
    • In the 'Up' direction: the Blea Moor area from the repeater signal close to Blea Moor tunnel north portal ?? is this correct and what is its proper name ??, to the recently installed intermediate block home signal just beyond Horton station (including the Ribblehead station area).[JH]
       
  • The latest signalling alterations were commissioned on October 27th, 2015 in conjunction with the opening of the new sidings at Arcow Quarry. As the siding connection at Arcow faces north and all traffic from the quarry is required in the Manchester and Leeds areas, it was necessary to improve the run-round facilities at Blea Moor. Amongst other changes, this involved the installation of a new 'Down' main line inner home signal at the north end of the single line section over Ribblehead viaduct. This permits direct access to the 'Up' goods loop. Previously access to the loop in the 'Down' direction was only available to trains departing from the sidings at Ribblehead via the ground frame points, a legacy of the 1980s singling work when ballast was still being loaded at Ribblehead and despatched to Healey Mills. All the new and altered signals are of LED colour light type.[JH]
     
  • The signal box is currently manned 24 hours a day, every day of the year, with one signaller per 12 hour shift (0600 to 1800 and 1800 to 0600).[JH]
     
  • There is no road access to this site so, prior to starting work, the person operating the signal box must park his or her car at the foot of the viaduct, then walk along the trackside for almost a mile to reach the signal box.
     
  • For many decades, the first 'Down' (i.e. north-bound) train each day dropped-off fresh water to allow the signalman to brew a cuppa. This procedure changed in 1988 after Blea Moor signalman Ken Harrison was forced to close the signal box for "about an hour and a quarter" while he went to Horton to fetch some drinking water. (You can hear Ken tell this story in his oral history at
    http://www.longprestonheritage.org.uk/oral_history/ken_harrison.htm.)
    Shortly after this incident, a new system was introduced: from time to time, a bowser filled with water would be towed up the bridleway by a quad bike or some other 4x4 vehicle. At some point, the system changed once more: approximately once a month, the morning empty passenger train from Skipton to Ribblehead would stop at Settle Junction to pick up a supply of bottled drinking water, then drop it off at Blea Moor Signal Box during the reversing manoeuvre. The procedure was changed again circa 2010, when the early morning service was altered to run through to Carlisle (rather than reversing at Blea Moor). These days, rainwater is harvested from the roof of the signal box and stored in a tank for toilet flushing and washing, while bottled drinking water is delivered by the Mobile Operations Managers using a Network Rail 4x4 vehicle.[JH]
     
  • Coal is still used to heat the signal box. The coal is delivered by road vehicle from time to time and is dropped-off somewhere in the station yard. It is then collected by either a rail-mounted crane (if there is a planned engineering possession) or by the Mobile Operations Managers using a Network Rail 4x4 vehicle.[JH]
     
  • For over a century, the mechanical 'semaphore' signals that helped to ensure the safety of trains between Hellifield and Carlisle relied on paraffin lamps to make their signals visible at night. A lampman would visit each signal at least once a week to tend to these lamps and, if correctly filled and trimmed, they would remain alight for up to ten days, even through the fiercest of storms. In recent times, many of the semaphore signals have either been removed (as the signalling has been simplified) or replaced with the more modern colour light variety. (Most of the latter now use LEDs rather than traditional incandescent bulbs.) The only remaining semaphore signals at Blea Moor are the 'Up' goods loop starting signal and the 'Down' line 'Up' direction starting signal. (The latter is used by passenger trains that terminate at Ribblehead station as these need to run to Blea Moor in order to cross over before returning south.) The two remaining semaphore signals are lit by battery powered LED lamps. (Oil lamps are no longer used on the Settle-Carlisle railway and the last lampman on the line was Peter Akrigg*, who retired from the job in November 2010.)[JH]

* Sadly, Peter died after a short illness on April 12th, 2016. There is a photograph of him (and of one of the signals that he tended) on page 15 of the May 2016 edition of the FoSCL Journal. This can be viewed / downloaded via the following link: /sites/foscl.org.uk/files/FoSCL%20Mag%20May%202016.pdf

  • Blea Moor was the last signal box on the Settle-Carlisle line to retain detonator placers worked from the signal box. These provided additional protection for the single line section and were only removed after the installation of TPWS (Train Protection and Warning System). The detonators in this trackside device were constantly exposed to the elements, so they needed to be replaced every two months to ensure that they remained in working condition. Records show that the last change took place on September 7th, 2009 and that the placers were removed on February 9th, 2010.[JH]
     
  • On September 19th, 2009 the Guardian newspaper published an interview with Jay Hartley (a Settle-Carlisle Railway signalman). The signal boxes at Garsdale and Blea Moor are mentioned in the article, which is available online at:

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2009/sep/19/railway-signaller-career

Sources and other footnotes

[DL]: Some of this information was kindly supplied by David Lowe, a former signalman and regional / area signalling inspector.

[JH]: Some or all of this information was kindly supplied by Jay Hartley, a Network Rail signalman who regularly worked in Blea Moor signal box.


Primary / Secondary References

This structure is not marked on the 1911 landplan. A signal box is shown located on the 'down' side at 248 miles 42 chains - see Structure 248590.

Figure 19 shows the track layout at Blea Moor Sidings in approximately 1913.

Plate 47 is a useful (but undated) B&W context photograph that must have been taken prior to 1941: this north-looking view shows the signal box in its old position (beside the 'down' line)(See structure ref 248590); a water crane, several huts, the semi-detached workers' houses (see structure ref 248580) and the water tower / tank-house (see structure ref 248530). The accompanying text refers to ["Way and Works Committee Minutes No. 12660, 4/11/1892"] and quotes a ["renewal cost of £200"] for this earlier signal box. The text also states that this early signal box ["remained in use until 1941"], that it had to be removed to allow the extension of Blea Moor Sidings, and that ["a new LMS signal box was provided at that time"].

Plate 48 is a B&W context photograph taken from Turf Hill on ["1st May 1966"] which shows the entire Blea Moor Sidings area. The accompanying text states that the signalbox was ["brought into use on 20th September 1941"].

Plate 49 is a useful (but undated) B&W close-up elevation photograph shot from the north-west that shows the north and west elevation of the 1941 ["LMS pattern"] signal box. The text refers the reader to ["LMS Architecture, Plates 573 to 580"] for additional information about signal boxes of this type.

Figure 20 (based on information being obtained from ["a 1941 LMS drawing"]) shows the location of the 1941 replacement on the 'Up' side and the location of the box (see structure ref 248590) that it replaced on the 'Down' side.

Plate 50 is a useful B&W context photograph shot from the north-east on ["19th August 1967"] that does not show the signal box itself, but does show the pressed-steel water tank (see structure ref 248690)

Figure 21 shows the 1962 signalling diagram for Blea Moor Signal Box.

Plate 51 is a B&W context photograph shot from the north-west in ["Autumn 1972"] that clearly shows the Tank House (see structure ref 248530), lamp hut (see structure ref 248600), platelayers' hut (see structure ref 248490) and signalbox and their relative positions.

Plate 52 is a useful B&W context photograph shot from the south-west in ["May 1972"] that does not show the signal box itself, but does show the cluster of buildings immediately to the north, including the detached (see structure ref 248550) and semi-detached workers' housing (see structure ref 248580) and a timber-clad lineside hut (which the text speculates may be a relocated LNWR structure).

The following is a direct extract from page 183 of Gough, John: "The Midland Railway - A Chronology", 2nd edition, published by The Railway and Canal Historical Society (1989):

"Blea Moor SB: Opened 2.8.1875 // Replacement box: Opened 4.12.1892 // Replacement box: Opened 28.6.1914 // Replacement box: Opened 16.12.1941"


Notes / additional information

The signal boxes that remain standing within the boundaries of the SCRCA can be compared and contrasted via the 'SCRCA Structure Type Definition' page for signal-boxes.

On 5th March 2013, the Network Rail website contained a page entitled "Britain's signalling heritage" which included a link to an Excel spreadsheet listing all of the remaining signal boxes on the NR network as well as those on preserved railways. The URL for the webpages is:

http://www.networkrail.co.uk/community/interest-groups/signalling-heritage/

A re-ordered extract from the full spreadsheet (in pdf format), showing the entries for the SCRCA signal boxes (sorted in order of their rail-location), is available here.


Structure Location Map

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