16 thoughts on “Norton West signal box and level crossing c1980

  1. This great website only just discovered. My grandparents Everitt & Maude Jones lived in Raby Road for over 50 years until their deaths in the late 1960s, and I always enjoyed seeing the freight trains rumbling by close to their back garden. My father Trevor attended Grangefield School in the early 1930s, and as a 1950s child, I remember walking with him along the path from the School across the railway line towards Grangefield Farm and placing old-style pennies on the line ready for them to be flattened by the heavy goods locos that passed that way. I still have one somewhere. By the 1960s, the steam locos had given way to diesel locos + dynometer vehicles, and when I last visited my grandparents in 1968, even the diesels had disappeared and trains no longer rumbled past. On a recent visit to the area, the school and path were still there, and Raby Road was much as I remembered it, but the line had been converted into a footpath and cycle trail, which was great. I do not live in the area but still get my fixes of steam on the North Yorks Moors Railway and summer steam specials to Scarborough.

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  2. In the 1950s I was a signal lad at Bishopton Lane and North Shore Jcn and lived at Stillington. After finishing night shift I used to get a ride home on freight trains and if I couldn”t get one direct from Stockton Yard used to get a lift to Norton West on an engine turning round via the triangle and then hope to get a freight going to the coal fields from Hartlepool so often spent time chatting to the signalmen at Norton West. The problem tho was not getting on but getting off as the driver often forgot to slow down!

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  3. Following on from past to present and future, Ian Russell could by contacting me ( tel no in phone book.I live in the fairfield area) be able to explore options in signalling and relive those days in this signalbox.

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  4. I was in 1st norton scouts in the 1930s,I have just found this site and have today sent two photos of the scout camp at Ripon in 1935 and Norman Huckle is on one of them.

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  5. I hope viewers dont mind be using this space with a few items of Norton Info, In 1982 a schoolboy swinging from a “Tarzan Swing”, in the “Hollow-Way, Mill-Lane unearthed a skull which was to lead to the archaeological find of one of the largest Anglo-Saxon Cemeteries in the North of England 1982-1984 This year 2008 that “Tarzan- Tree” over 200 year old had to be felled due to bank and soil erosion as it was liable to fall onto the Billingham/Norton Ring-road. Scouting First a sad note WE”ve heard to-day Tuesday of the death of Mr Norman Huckle , a scout in 1st Norton in 1925 and with his family involved in the Scout-Movement through out his life My condolences to his family Scouting is approaching its 100th year in Norton . the first troop was formed in July 1908, 2 months before it became Official, in Sept of that year 1908-2008 It was formed by Mr Edward ( Teddy ) Reed of West Row The Green and was to become 1st Norton any information or stories of its history and scouting in general , would be greatfully received both on this site or letter to Stockton & Thornaby Scouting H Q Norton Road Stockton-on Tees

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  6. Terry. I remember you also! Yes,I did have a model railway in the wash-house,and I also remember the incident with the carbide but in fairness,it wasn”t an oil drum but an empty one gallon petrol can.However the result was quite impressive, as I remember it! O.K. on you spending time on the N.Y.M.R. Good for you.I spent a very pleasant week with the railway on the Steam Appreciation course,which culminated with driving 75029 on both passenger and goods duty. Unfortunately it was the week that the Twin Towers were brought down in America, which quite took the edge off it. Still, I won”t ever forget it! Given the chance, I would like to work on the Railway also, but in the Signal & Telegraph Dept. However, the chances are pretty remote. One day perhaps. Anyway, nice to hear from you again after all these years. Do you keep in touch with any of the other lads? There were the the two Poppleton brothers, Dave Parker, John Corney, and John Clarke, if I remember rightly. Keep on steaming!

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  7. Ian, I remember you. My mother still lives in oxbridge ave.I have recently retired from work and spend a lot of time on steam loco restoration and drive on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (started there in 1968. I remember a lot of what has been written above. You had a model railway in the “washhouse” and if I said oildrum +water+ carbide!!! Many an hour was spent at the bridge and shelter in Oxbridge Lane near Raby Rd. It was there when I first heard detonators go off placed there by p/way or train crews to protect their trains.

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  8. Eric. Thank you again for your comprehensive reply. At last I have a clear picture of what used to happen all those years ago. Incidentally,I left Teesside a long time ago and now live and work in Coventry. However, about 12 months ago I visited Stockton again after many years away,and I went and visited Norton West. Apart from the barriers,the place looks little changed. The only thing different was the absence of the trailing crossover and associatd ground dollies which were just outside the box. Unfortunately the box was closed so I couldn”t obtain access to the box to see how much has been changed inside. I would imagine quite a lot. Oh well,that”s progress,I suppose! One final word,to Alastair.O.K.on your living in Raby Road. By coincidence I used to live at 11 Oxbridge Ave.which was opposite the phone box near the Oxbridge Lane end.Small world?

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  9. Ian – switching out is when a signalbox closes by “switching out of the circuit” leaving a longer block section with the signalboxes on either side in touch with one another – so the line is still open for traffic. At Norton West, Stillington and Bishop Middleham boxes regularly “switched out” of the Ferryhill to Norton West route, leaving Ferryhill and Norton West in direct communication with one another and controlling the block section between them. The signalmen at Stillington & B. Middleham would have left their signals at clear. Norton West could only ever “close” and not switch out because of, as you mention, the level crossing. On the opposite side of the Norton triangle, you can see Norton East, which is now more or less permanently switched out. A signalbox switching out could send either the closing signal 7-5-5 where the section signal was not locked by “the block” or 5-5-7 where the section signal was locked. The latter instance required the signalman in advance to give a “line clear” on his block instrument to allow the closing signalman to pull off his section signal. After clearing his section signals and turning the block switch to take the box out of circuit, the signalmen on either side would then test bells and instruments (16 on the bell) with each other. They would also have to operate their “welwyn release” to clear the block instrument line clear indication.

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  10. Many thanks to Alastair, Eric and Anon for the info on permissive block. I can see why it wasn”t popular or safe either. To return to the orignal theme of switching boxes out.Can you tell me why this was done, because trains were unable to run past the box because of the crossing gates. These were left open to road traffic/closed to rail traffic.What was the point of this,unless it was to inform boxes either side that the box was unmanned and therefore unable to accept offered traffic?

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  11. Alistair – the “Welling Wheel” you refer to was part of the Welwyn block control, instituted after the Welwyn train crash in the 1930s. The system meant that after a signalman had given “line clear” to the signalbox in the rear, he could not give a second line clear until the train ran through the section and then occupied & cleared a track circuit at the “box giving the line clear. Obviously a method was need to overcome this – for instance the train may be cancelled – and the signalman then needed to clear the block instrument, hence the time release you referred to. The release was mounted on the front of the block shelf, and was a switch with a rotary handle, which took about 1 minute to turn to obtain the release. On the subject of permissive block working – permissive block instruments often had an indicator worked by the commutator to indicate the number of trains in the section. I believe Redmarshall South had a mechanical indicator which showed the enginemen how many trains were in the section between them and Bowesfield Junction.

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  12. Alastair Smith/Ian Russell: Most interesting posts on permissive block signalling on the railways. Many enginemen did not like the system as it relied too much on the human factor, drivers keeping a sharp lookout and ensuring their trains were well under control. Remember we are often speaking of heavy loose coupled trains here with brakes only on the engine and brake van.In December,1961 a southbound Deltic hauled empty stock train was switched to the slow lines south of Peterborough worked under the permissive block system. The Deltic,D9012, manned by an express passenger link crew, perhaps not familiar with slow line running in the area, ran in the darkness into the rear of a preceding Peterborough – London goods train. The scattered wreckage was then hit by an up express meat train and then a down fast goods both running main line, fortunately without fatalities. The M.O.T.inspection into the accident blamed the driver of the Deltic for proceeding with insufficient caution and travelling at too high a speed, but the report also drew attention to the weaknesses and possible dangers of permissive block working.

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  13. Hiya Ian, I don”t think I am the Roseworth Alastair, most of my time in Stockton was in Raby Road. I also attended Grangefield 1966 to 1968 after Richard Hind. In railway signalling the principle is “One train, one section,one time”. However on heavy use non passenger lines to maximise traffic flow this tenet was relaxed with a section being able to be used by a number of trains at one time. In order that the driver was aware that the section was occupied by a leading train they could either be bought to a stand at the section entry (starter) signal with the signal being raised slowly, or in some cases, Ferryhiill, there would be a number indicator showing the number of trains ahead. If passenger trains had to run over permissive lines a block change ticket would be issued to the driver informing him that the section was now signalled under Absolute Block redulations with the “One train, one section, one time” rule being in force. There are I believe some excellent reference books regarding signalling systems.

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  14. Hello Alastair. Thank you for your comments, which prompt a couple of questions. I used to live near an Alastair Smith on Roseworth Estate, about 50 years ago.I don”t suppose that was you, was it? Second question is: I attended Grangefield school and I remember the goods trains coming down there almost nose to tail with the one in front. I believe this was known as permissive block. Did you ever work on this line and if so would you explain how permissive block works, please?

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  15. Hiya Ian, the practice of “switching a box out” is still practised in the old Absolute Block areas on Network Rail. In fact on a visit to Milner Royd Jn Signal Box last week the signaller did exactly that. Switched out Greetland Jn Box and created one long section from Milner Royd to Elland Signal Box. Along with the bell code the signaller had the tiresome task of turning the “Welling Wheel” for about a minute before the block instruments returned to “Line Clear”. Of interest also is the fact that the section Norton West Signal Box to Stillington Signal Box is the only section, when I was on the footplate, that I ever had to pass under “Time Interval Working” due to a complete failure oif Block Instruments and telephone communication between the boxes. A practice since deemed too dangerous to be continued and removed from the then Railtrack Rule Book in 2001.

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  16. I use to visit this box as a 14 year old and became quite proficient at working it This would be around 1958/59 and I believe the signalman”s name was Joe Shilham. Of particular interest (to me anyway) was switching the box “out” on sunday mornings, part of which involved ringing 7-5-5-15 to the next box which I believe was Stillington.

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