The Signalling Record Society
Film Archive of Railway Signalling & People
Or for short!
In 2013 Network Rail announced their strategy of concentrating all railway signalling activity into just a handful of Regional Operating Centres (ROCs). Implementation would, of course, not happen over night but would progress steadily and see the eventual demise of all remaining mechanical signal boxes, including those that had been equipped with panels, power signal boxes and most of the signalling centres that were still coming on stream at this time. The order of change would be influenced by the life expectancy of existing equipment and need to increase line capacity, and it is relevant to mention that some mechanical signal boxes outlived their power signal box neighbours that were several decades their junior.
The Friends of the National Railway Museum contacted various bodies with a view to recording railway signalling as it stood in the middle of the second decade of the 21st century and before it was consigned to history. Thus FARSAP was born. In this there was a parallel to the driving force behind the formation of this Society in 1969 - the desire to record matters before they were lost for ever in the rush to introduce ever larger power signal boxes.
Whilst the 2013 announcement was the call for action, the archive is not confined to Network Rail locations. You will find Northern Ireland Railways and Heritage Railways represented here as well.
A start is made
With funding from both the Friends (FNRM) and the Railway Heritage Trust (RHT) plus Network Rail's support allowing access to their premises, recording commenced in January 2014 using a team of volunteers. The other partners in the project are The Institution of Railway Signalling Engineers (IRSE), Institution of Railway Operators (IRO), National Railway Museum (NRM), Heritage Railway Association (HRA), Retired Railway Officers Society (RROS) and, of course, this Society (SRS) from whose ranks the majority of volunteers were drawn.
On this web site you will find the edited videos that use the 'footage' and 'pictures' gathered by the volunteers. In time you will also find other 'footage' gathered together by Society members that is made available in similar manner.
Each video is set within a page that gives some additional information about the location. Controls are provided that allow the video to be paused or the play start point to be moved and the sound volume to be adjusted. Each video can also be viewed 'full screen' by selecting the symbol found bottom right of the play area; the symbol consists of four arrows pointing to the four corners of the display you are using. Some videos will have 'captions' and/or 'sub-titles' associated with them that can be turned on by selecting the relevant control. Not all browsers support the facilty.
Please bear in mind that once the recording are made time has to be found to edit the footage and provide a narrative &c and then add the location to the mapping page. This can take a lot longer than the time spent recording as can finding time in busy schedules to carry out the task!
Not all the videos are from the FARSAP project. Further down the page you will find videos produced independently of the FARSAP project and there are also primer and educational videos and some signalling career memories.
When listening to and watching the videos you may encounter some technical and jargon terms you are not familiar with. Some of the terms are explained here.
Can you help?
The project would love to hear from you, especially if you worked or still work in a signal box, and you are willing to provide reminiscences and / or pictures. Please contact the webmaster in the first instance.
The list is in alphabetical order. The locations have been nominated and selected because they meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Locations: where the location itself is significant, for example because of history, activities or even an accident, perhaps which resulted in improvements subsequently being made to signalling equipment, rules and regulations or operations.
- Structures: where a structure is significant or different - for example a listed building, the last of its type (regional or company design), or the design is unique. Various types will be included to cover the range of control including mechanical signal boxes, panels, power boxes, IECC's, level crossings, swing bridges, etc.
- Equipment: where the equipment is significant or different ‐ for example last remaining equipment, non-standard or unique equipment.
- Operations: where signalling operations are different or unusual.
- Educational: where signalling is explained in operational or technical ways.
- Historic: video of historic interest. Some of these are copied from cine film or vhs tape with the consequence that quality is not of modern standards.
If the name in the list is followed by a tick then a volunteer has already been to site: the recorded pictures and video await editing before being made available. If the edited video is already available for a specific location name it will be shown in red on a silver coloured 'plank' and change colour when the mouse hovers over it - click this and it will take you to the page on this web site where you can view it.
Do you work in a signal box that meets one or more of the criteria above but is missing from the list? If so, please contact the webmaster.
Signalling Primers and Educational Videos
These videos are aimed at beginners and those in the early stages of their learning curve. However, there may well be some more experienced people who will appreciate a 'refresher' on the basics of the subject. The videos will be of particular use to course leaders and instructors who wish to use video as part of their course material. For this reason some of the videos included are extracts from the longer ones in this section.
Presenter: Phil Graham
Phil's career in the railway industry included a period as a Signalling Inspector and latterly as an Operations Manager with responsibility for level crossings in the London North Eastern Zone, including the East Midlands section. Since retirement Phil has continued to run operating rules classes on behalf of Network Rail. Students attending the classes include both professionals and volunteers drawn from Network Rail, Train Operators and the heritage sector.
Both before and after retirement Phil has been a regular speaker and presenter at the National Railway Museum, specialising in railway operating and signalling matters.
Presenter: Charles Weightman
Joining the railway at Nottingham, Charles was a signalling engineer whose career took him variously to Newcastle, Reading and York. As a senior manager, Charles' last post was Signalling Principles Engineer for Network Rail.
Charles keeps his hand in by working in retirement as a volunteeer signalling engineer in the heritage sector and by being a team member at the L&Y Signalling display at the National Railway Museum.
Each video deals with a specific subject or a group of related subjects. Those available are:
Using the Lancashire & Yorkshire School Railway located at the National Railway Museum
Using Network Rail's Training Facility at Perth
At Other Locations
People who have spent all or most of their working lives in or around railway signalling tell of their experiences:
Momentious events are recounted or re-enacted: