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Ropley Signal Box

The original signal box at Ropley was closed in 1931 when the passing loop was lifted and was replaced by a ground frame to allow access into the goods siding. When the line was reopened in 1977, Ropley had a small ground frame at the country end of the station which in 1983 moved to the London end of the station. It was increased to 15 levers and was to be the home for Mid Hants signalmen for the next 24 years until it was replaced by the current signal box in 2007.

Many years before, the Mid Hants acquired the signal box that had been located at Netley, just outside Southampton, when it was closed by BR on 9th March 1980. This box in its BR days was extended to accommodate a larger lever frame. The current lever frame in the box is a Stevens type (RSC) frame which came equipped with 38 segments from one of the two brick built boxes at Barnstaple Junction but when installed was shortened to just 30 levers. A new locking room was excavated on the Down platform with new brick work that supported the extended Type 1 LSWR wooden box. After many years of restoration by Mid Hants volunteers, the ‘new’ signal box was commissioned on 14th October 2007.

During the planning for the commissioning of the ‘new’ Ropley Signal Box, it was decided to split this into two phases. Phase 1 involved transferring all the currently installed signals, points and facing point locks (FPL) from the existing 15 lever Ground Frame onto the 30 lever frame in the new box. The allocation of lever numbers was totally changed in the new box although their function remained the same. In addition, the two Tyers Electric Key Token instruments for the Alresford and Medstead sections respectively were also moved into the new box and positioned at either end of the frame. Phase 1 also saw the installation of five DC track circuits at the London end of the station.

After 7 years of additional work, Phase 2 was commissioned on 3rd July 2014

Phase 2 includes a total of 7 new signals within the station area that enables full bidirectional operation through both platforms, plus a further three DC track circuits at the country end of the station plus one in each platform. Additional operational flexibility has been gained with the installation of Outer Home and Advance Starting signals plus two operational Distant signals. The latter are operated by electric motors mounted on the post but still controlled by a yellow Distant lever in the frame. All other signals are lever operated using signal wires strung on pulleys and posts alongside the track. During commissioning, slight modifications were made to the mechanical locking to allow all 27 levers to be brought into use, with 3 spare.

All the main semaphore signals at the country end of the station are of the LSWR lower quadrant type whereas at the London end, they are upper quadrant style. The shunt signals are the standard BR(S) mechanical disc type. All signals within the immediate station area are still lit by oil lamps but those further out are electrically lit. Lamp proving is provided for all electrically lit signals with appropriate indicators on the block shelf.

Four directional treadles are installed, two each side of the station. The Train Approach treadles located adjacent to the two Distant signals sound a warning bell in the signal box every time a train passes over them in the appropriate direction. The Train Waiting treadles (TWT) are located 200 yards behind each Outer Home Signal and when operated, illuminate a lamp on the signal box diagram. If an Outer Home signal is maintained at danger when a train operates the TWT, a buzzer also sounds.

There are 21 brass signal repeaters located on the front of the block shelf together with 6 emergency release buttons associated with the point and FPL levers for use only in the event of a track circuit failure. As the signalman cannot see the rear of an Up train on arrival in the platforms, TAC (Train Arrived Complete) plungers for both the Loop and Main lines are located near the footbridge and are operated by the Guard to confirm that the train has arrived complete with its tail lamp. A ‘gong’ type of instrument sounds in the box and the appropriate TAC lamp is illuminated on the track diagram above the block shelf.

Shunting movements within the Yard to and from the Pit Road plus all movements out of the Yard into the Down platform are advised to the signalman via a series of bell codes from the Remote Bell Cabinet located near the Water Tower. A Shunting Bell and plunger are also located on the block shelf in the Signal Box.

(Updated 5th September 2014)

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