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ECML Gate Boxes

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ryan125hst

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I have recently started a thread about MCB-CCTV level crossings and have been discussing the level crossings and gate boxes near me on the ECML. As I have explored this further, it appears that there’s numerous gate boxes and former gate boxes that now exist only for emergency purposes along the line. I thought it would be interesting to start a thread that lists all of these boxes, details when the boxes open/closed, the technologies they use to control the crossings and even photographs if you have any.

To start with, here is what I know about my local area. Feel free to correct any inaccuracies and please do expand the list if you know more about a section of the line I have not included:

Rossington – MCB-CCTV – Controlled from Doncaster PSB on the main NX (eNtrance eXit) panel.

Ranskill – Former signal box – downgraded to gate box in the mid 70’s (exact date?). Controls Ranskill crossing locally with a pedestal and has an NX style panel for the control of Torworth, Sutton, Botany Bay and Grove Road crossings via CCTV.

Grove Road - Former signal box – downgraded to gate box in the mid 70’s. Ranskill took over control in the 90’s (exact date?) – Controls retained for emergency use.

Grassthorpe Lane – Manually Controlled Gates – Released from Carlton.

Carlton – New box built in the 70’s - Controls Egmanton, Calton, Cromwell Lane, Norwell Lane, Bathley Lane and Church Lane via CCTV, and releases Grassthorpe Lane gates. Also has a pedestal for the local control of Carlton crossing if needed – originally controlled locally maybe?

Bathley Lane – Former signal box – downgraded to gate box in the mid 70’s. Carlton took over control in the 1998 – Controls retained for emergency use?

Barnby Road - New box built in the 70’s - Claypole took over control in the 90’s (exact date?) – Controls retained for emergency use?

Claypole – New box built in the 70’s – Controls Barnby, Bullpit Lane, Balderton, Barnby Lane, Osterfen and Claypole crossings via CCTV. Also has a pedestal for the local control of Carlton crossing if needed – originally controlled locally maybe?

There’s a couple of things I find interesting about what I have written above. Firstly, it is the fact that Ranskill, Grove Road and Bathley Lane signal boxes were retained as gate boxes whereas Carlton, Claypole and Barnby Road were all new boxes built in the 70’s (I’m not sure of the exact dates, please let me know if you can confirm this), presumably in the location of an original signal box. Why did they choose to build some new boxes and yet retain others?

The other point is how they originally used more gate boxes than they do today, and then opted to close the likes of Grove Road, Bathley Lane and Barnby Road. What led British Rail to open so many gate boxes originally and why were they closed following privatisation? What’s even more strange is how Barnby Road was a new build but they still decided to close it. I believe the same is true for Holme and Tallington further south as well?
 
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John Webb

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If I can take your last general points first.
There’s a couple of things I find interesting about what I have written. Firstly, it is the fact that Ranskill, Grove Road and Bathley Lane signal boxes were retained as gate boxes whereas Carlton, Claypole and Barnby Road were all new boxes built in the 70’s (I’m not sure of the exact dates, please let me know if you can confirm this), presumably in the location of an original signal box. Why did they choose to build some new boxes and yet retain others?

The other point is how they originally used more gate boxes than they do today, and then opted to close the likes of Grove Road, Bathley Lane and Barnby Road. What led British Rail to open so many gate boxes originally and why were they closed following privatisation? What’s even more strange is how Barnby Road was a new build but they still decided to close it. I believe the same is true for Holme and Tallington further south as well?
The choice of reusing an old box or building something new is dependent on the physical condition of the old box and it's suitability for conversion into its new use.
Don't forget that at one time all these crossings would have been worked and manned by a local box - they existed from the construction of the railway in the Victorian era when labour was cheap, so BR inherited all the crossings. A number of course were by local railway stations - now closed - with goods facilities, so the box did rather more than just work the crossing. Claypole station, for example, sited just north of the crossing on Stubton Road, had sidings both sides of the main line. Closures and amalgamations took place in order to reduce the staffing levels and thereby save money, and started well before privatisation.

Comments on individual locations below are from "The Encyclopaedia of 21st Century Signal Boxes" by Michael Rhodes (Platform 5, 2019). This only has details of the older boxes and nothing on the various replacements dating from the 1970s etc., so only a few to comment on.
Ranskill – Former signal box – downgraded to gate box in the mid 70’s (exact date?). Controls Ranskill crossing locally with a pedestal and has an NX style panel for the control of Torworth, Sutton, Botany Bay and Grove Road crossings via CCTV.
Opened 1875. 50 lever frame replaced 1975 by an NX panel. Downgraded 1980 to 'gate box' but retaining facility to control the ECML if problems with Doncaster PSB. New NX panel 1997 when control of Grove Road crossing was taken over. Doesn't say if the other crossings were taken over at the same time or later.
Grove Road - Former signal box – downgraded to gate box in the mid 70’s. Ranskill took over control in the 90’s (exact date?) – Controls retained for emergency use.
Taken over by Ranskill in 1997, when box was closed. Box dates from 1887.
Bathley Lane – Former signal box – downgraded to gate box in the mid 70’s. Carlton took over control in the 1998 – Controls retained for emergency use?
Opened 1930 with 20 lever frame. IFS (Individual Function Switch) panel installed 1976. Ceased work as block post 1998 when Carlton took over. It is retained for emergency use.

You may find the Geograph website of interest - see for example This area at Claypole which includes some photos of the Stubton Road crossing. Access is freely available - you only have to sign up (free) to post your own photos.
 

High Dyke

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To add to this, the book 'The Railways of Newark-on-Trent' by Michael Vanns has a lot of historical information about signal boxes in that locality. The book goes up to and including Tuxford, but not as far as Grove Road.

A number of other signal boxes also existed along the section of route between Claypole and Tuxford. Some locations closed or had replacement boxes constructed, whilst others, like Bathley, were merely modified in their operation.

In the case of Claypole, the GN signal box stood on the Up side of the line - opposite the current location; Carlton was the same. This would allow construction of the 'current' boxes without comprising the operational abilities of the boxes they were replacing. Barnby was also situated similarly, the current box replacing the ground level signal box officially opened in 1871.

Some of the smaller level crossings, like Grassthorpe, were operated by crossing keepers. Today that is the only staffed level crossing in the area, with others either converted to CCTV, as outlined, or replaced by a bridge - e.g. Muskham, a short distance from Bathley Lane. In the 1920s there was something like 66 level crossings between Tuxford and Barkston South, all of which were staffed.
 

ryan125hst

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If I can take your last general points first.

The choice of reusing an old box or building something new is dependent on the physical condition of the old box and it's suitability for conversion into its new use.
Don't forget that at one time all these crossings would have been worked and manned by a local box - they existed from the construction of the railway in the Victorian era when labour was cheap, so BR inherited all the crossings. A number of course were by local railway stations - now closed - with goods facilities, so the box did rather more than just work the crossing. Claypole station, for example, sited just north of the crossing on Stubton Road, had sidings both sides of the main line. Closures and amalgamations took place in order to reduce the staffing levels and thereby save money, and started well before privatisation.

Yes, things were very different in years gone by and I wish I was born several decades earlier so I could have witnessed the railway as it was in those days. The number of stations, goods yards, signal boxes etc. was huge until the 50's and 60's and even in the 80's there was a lot more than there is now.

Ranskill
Opened 1875. 50 lever frame replaced 1975 by an NX panel. Downgraded 1980 to 'gate box' but retaining facility to control the ECML if problems with Doncaster PSB. New NX panel 1997 when control of Grove Road crossing was taken over. Doesn't say if the other crossings were taken over at the same time or later.

Bathley Lane
Opened 1930 with 20 lever frame. IFS (Individual Function Switch) panel installed 1976. Ceased work as block post 1998 when Carlton took over. It is retained for emergency use.

That's something I didn't realise. So am I correct in saying that Ranskill and Bathley Lane (and probably others in additon) were briefly small power signal boxes before Doncaster PSB took over? I take it they upgraded the local signalling to colour light and installed all the relay interlocking for the area and then used these boxes to control that area (so Ranskill controlled Retford, Bathley Lane controlled Newark?) and local crossings until Doncaster was ready? Then it would have just been the case of connected the comms to the relays to Doncaster?

For dates and things, may I refer the esteemed gentleman to http://www.railwaycodes.org.uk/signal/signal_boxesb.shtm and other related pages?
I have already come across this excellent site :)

In the case of Claypole, the GN signal box stood on the Up side of the line - opposite the current location; Carlton was the same. This would allow construction of the 'current' boxes without comprising the operational abilities of the boxes they were replacing. Barnby was also situated similarly, the current box replacing the ground level signal box officially opened in 1871.

Some of the smaller level crossings, like Grassthorpe, were operated by crossing keepers. Today that is the only staffed level crossing in the area, with others either converted to CCTV, as outlined, or replaced by a bridge - e.g. Muskham, a short distance from Bathley Lane.

Makes sense as they couldn't shut the railway to demolish the existing box and built the new one. I can't believe how many staffed crossing there used to be between Doncaster and York until only a few years ago.

In the 1920s there was something like 66 level crossings between Tuxford and Barkston South, all of which were staffed.
That's a lot of crossings! It just shows how many signal boxes and therefore signalmen used to work on the railway - I can't imagine this number across that mileage was particularly unique for the area.
 

bramling

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I have recently started a thread about MCB-CCTV level crossings and have been discussing the level crossings and gate boxes near me on the ECML. As I have explored this further, it appears that there’s numerous gate boxes and former gate boxes that now exist only for emergency purposes along the line. I thought it would be interesting to start a thread that lists all of these boxes, details when the boxes open/closed, the technologies they use to control the crossings and even photographs if you have any.

To start with, here is what I know about my local area. Feel free to correct any inaccuracies and please do expand the list if you know more about a section of the line I have not included:

Rossington – MCB-CCTV – Controlled from Doncaster PSB on the main NX (eNtrance eXit) panel.

Ranskill – Former signal box – downgraded to gate box in the mid 70’s (exact date?). Controls Ranskill crossing locally with a pedestal and has an NX style panel for the control of Torworth, Sutton, Botany Bay and Grove Road crossings via CCTV.

Grove Road - Former signal box – downgraded to gate box in the mid 70’s. Ranskill took over control in the 90’s (exact date?) – Controls retained for emergency use.

Grassthorpe Lane – Manually Controlled Gates – Released from Carlton.

Carlton – New box built in the 70’s - Controls Egmanton, Calton, Cromwell Lane, Norwell Lane, Bathley Lane and Church Lane via CCTV, and releases Grassthorpe Lane gates. Also has a pedestal for the local control of Carlton crossing if needed – originally controlled locally maybe?

Bathley Lane – Former signal box – downgraded to gate box in the mid 70’s. Carlton took over control in the 1998 – Controls retained for emergency use?

Barnby Road - New box built in the 70’s - Claypole took over control in the 90’s (exact date?) – Controls retained for emergency use?

Claypole – New box built in the 70’s – Controls Barnby, Bullpit Lane, Balderton, Barnby Lane, Osterfen and Claypole crossings via CCTV. Also has a pedestal for the local control of Carlton crossing if needed – originally controlled locally maybe?

There’s a couple of things I find interesting about what I have written above. Firstly, it is the fact that Ranskill, Grove Road and Bathley Lane signal boxes were retained as gate boxes whereas Carlton, Claypole and Barnby Road were all new boxes built in the 70’s (I’m not sure of the exact dates, please let me know if you can confirm this), presumably in the location of an original signal box. Why did they choose to build some new boxes and yet retain others?

The other point is how they originally used more gate boxes than they do today, and then opted to close the likes of Grove Road, Bathley Lane and Barnby Road. What led British Rail to open so many gate boxes originally and why were they closed following privatisation? What’s even more strange is how Barnby Road was a new build but they still decided to close it. I believe the same is true for Holme and Tallington further south as well?

ISTR the closure of the boxes mentioned was part of a Railtrack initiative called "EROS" - which stood for Economic Reduction Of Signalling. So it would simply seem to be that someone identified they were suitable candidates for an efficiency-led scheme.

A few at the southern end of the line went the same way - for example Everton (between Sandy and St Neots), Offord & Buckden (between St Neots and Huntingdon) and Holme (between Huntingdon and Peterborough). All three went to a dedicated workstation in Peterborough PSB.
 

High Dyke

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To start with, here is what I know about my local area. Feel free to correct any inaccuracies and please do expand the list if you know more about a section of the line I have not included:

Rossington – MCB-CCTV – Controlled from Doncaster PSB on the main NX (eNtrance eXit) panel.
Closed on the 9th of September 1979 and control transferred to Doncaster PSB via CCTV.
Ranskill – Former signal box – downgraded to gate box in the mid 70’s (exact date?). Controls Ranskill crossing locally with a pedestal and has an NX style panel for the control of Torworth, Sutton, Botany Bay and Grove Road crossings via CCTV.
Barnby Moor & Sutton Station was situated to the left of the signalbox towards Ranskill and opened on the 4th of September 1849, it was renamed just 'Sutton' in 1850 and was closed in 1949.

The signalbox was also renamed 'Sutton' after the station was closed. It opened in 1872 and closed on the 18th of October 1975, when control was transferred to Ranskill signalbox and the crossing was converted to CCTV. It remains today although boarded up and empty.

Botany Bay was abolished in 1978 after resignalling saw Ranskill take over the crossing via CCTV, along with Sutton and Torworth.

Babworth SB was situated on the LNER at the Northern end of West Carr Road. Before Babworth bridge was built, the box controlled the mechanical gates on the main road between Babworth & Retford.
Grove Road - Former signal box – downgraded to gate box in the mid 70’s. Ranskill took over control in the 90’s (exact date?) – Controls retained for emergency use.
Downgraded to gate box 22 August 1978. Transfer of control to Ranskill 15 March 1998
Grassthorpe Lane – Manually Controlled Gates – Released from Carlton.

Carlton – New box built in the 70’s - Controls Egmanton, Calton, Cromwell Lane, Norwell Lane, Bathley Lane and Church Lane via CCTV, and releases Grassthorpe Lane gates. Also has a pedestal for the local control of Carlton crossing if needed – originally controlled locally maybe?
Egmanton was closed on Sunday 24th of October 1976. The crossing was upgraded to lifting barriers and control transferred to Carlton Gate box via CCTV.
Bathley Lane – Former signal box – downgraded to gate box in the mid 70’s. Carlton took over control in the 1998 – Controls retained for emergency use?
Downgraded to Gate box status, probably in October 1976.

Cromwell. Closed 24th of October 1976.
Barnby Road - New box built in the 70’s - Claypole took over control in the 90’s (exact date?) – Controls retained for emergency use?

Claypole – New box built in the 70’s – Controls Barnby, Bullpit Lane, Balderton, Barnby Lane, Osterfen and Claypole crossings via CCTV. Also has a pedestal for the local control of Carlton crossing if needed – originally controlled locally maybe?
Claypole. Current box came into use 11 July 1977 replacing the 1875 box that was situated on the Up Side of the line.

There were also intermediate signal boxes (between Ranskill and Newark) at:
Canal, Babworth (controlled a level crossing - replaced by a bridge in 1937), Retford North, Retford South, Gamston, Tuxford North (controlled a level crossing - replaced by a bridge in 1976), Tuxford Junction, Dukeries Junction, Crow Park (controlled a level crossing), Muskham (controlled a level crossing - replaced by a bridge), Trent, Newark Crossing, Newark North (controlled a level crossing - replaced by a bridge in 1936). There were also a number of level crossings operated by crossing keepers.

Further information about some signal boxes in the area try here:www.signalboxes.com
 
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55002

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Back in the day in the 80s, if there was a level crossing failure, a member of the platform staff from Newark had to go out until S&T had resolved problem..
 

ryan125hst

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With the equipment being around 20 years old or more at that point I guess EROS made sense for such a scheme, particularly to reduce costs post privatisation.

Thanks for the detailed reply High Dyke. One signal box you don't mention is one at Torworth that I asked about on another thread and I received a reply with this link showing a map from 1885. Do you know when this signal box closed? https://maps.nls.uk/view/101602146
 

High Dyke

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With the equipment being around 20 years old or more at that point I guess EROS made sense for such a scheme, particularly to reduce costs post privatisation.

Thanks for the detailed reply High Dyke. One signal box you don't mention is one at Torworth that I asked about on another thread and I received a reply with this link showing a map from 1885. Do you know when this signal box closed? https://maps.nls.uk/view/101602146
Sorry, I can't find any information about the closure of Torworth SB. An educated guess would be at the same time as other locations in the same were closed and control transferred to Ranskill. Perhaps someone else can provide answer to this.
 

LowLevel

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Back in the day in the 80s, if there was a level crossing failure, a member of the platform staff from Newark had to go out until S&T had resolved problem..

That used to be common enough - station staff held all sorts of operational competencies, points operator, level crossing attendant for local control and so on.

On privatisation they were mostly removed (I know of at least one bridge strike examiner who is a TOC station supervisor but it is unusual) and vested in the mobile operations supervisor then renamed mobile operations manager who were, IIRC, rebadged area movements inspectors.

A friend of mind was telling me that as a young railman he was effectively working 3 jobs, Station staff, barman in a local pub and then extra nights overtime as a level crossing attendant for engineering works.
 

Gloster

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Back in the day in the 80s, if there was a level crossing failure, a member of the platform staff from Newark had to go out until S&T had resolved problem..

Back when I was an 18-year old Junior Railman with only a matter of weeks on the railway I turned up at Guildford at 06.30 to start work; my first job was usually to empty the bins on Platforms 1 and 2. The station supervisor stopped me and told me to go out on the next train to Chilworth, where the CCTV cameras had failed. My comment that I didn’t know what to do was met with, “Just do what the signalman tells you.” So off I went, relieved the Railman who had been there all night and was thoroughly fed up with things, took over the bag and wondered what to do next. It was a cold, damp and foggy morning, and there was nowhere to sit or shelter as I had to stay close to the crossing ‘phones. When I heard a train approach I rang the signalman at Shalford, who would operate the crossing controls ‘blind’ while I hung on the ‘phone acting as his eyes. Two or three hours of that was a very steep learning curve.
 
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ryan125hst

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Sorry, I can't find any information about the closure of Torworth SB. An educated guess would be at the same time as other locations in the same were closed and control transferred to Ranskill. Perhaps someone else can provide answer to this.
It makes me wonder whether it closed earlier than the others given it seems to be less known about. It doesn't explain how the crossing was controlled following its closure if that was the case though, so it's probably unlikely that it did close any earlier.

Back when I was an 18-year old Junior Railman with only a matter of weeks on the railway I turned up at Guildford at 06.30 to start work; my first job was usually to empty the bins on Platforms 1 and 2. The station supervisor stopped me and told me to go out on the next train to Chilworth, where the CCTV cameras had failed. My comment that I didn’t know what to do was met with, “Just do what the signalman tells you.” So off I went, relieved the Railman who had been there all night and was thoroughly fed up with things, took over the bag and wondered what to do next. It was a cold, damp and foggy morning, and there was nowhere to sit or shelter as I had to stay close to the crossing ‘phones. When I heard a train approach I rang the signalman at Shalford, who would operate the crossing controls ‘blind’ while I hung on the ‘phone acting as his eyes. Two or three hours of that was a very steep learning curve.
I bet that wouldn't be allowed today!

That used to be common enough - station staff held all sorts of operational competencies, points operator, level crossing attendant for local control and so on.

On privatisation they were mostly removed (I know of at least one bridge strike examiner who is a TOC station supervisor but it is unusual) and vested in the mobile operations supervisor then renamed mobile operations manager who were, IIRC, rebadged area movements inspectors.

A friend of mind was telling me that as a young railman he was effectively working 3 jobs, Station staff, barman in a local pub and then extra nights overtime as a level crossing attendant for engineering works.
It must have helped to reduce delays significantly as I'd imagine there were more station staff about than there are currently MOM's? What size area would a MOM normally cover?
 
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