Site Updated
4 August 2019
Page Updated
11 October 2016

Signalling Record Society - 50 Years

Research Facilities

The SRS has a facility to assist research into signalling topics, and particularly the history of signalling equipment, systems and practices. The Research Co-ordinator (email to research) can advise, for example, what research has already been carried out into any particular topic, and suggest sources that might be used. Advice on research techniques can also be offered, although many grannies already know how to suck eggs! The object, of course, is to help researchers use their time more effectively, and hopefully enable them to arrive at more comprehensive results and conclusions than might otherwise be possible. However, the Society is unable to carry out detail research for you. Anyone considering substantial research connected with signalling is advised to get in touch, as there is usually something helpful to contribute.

The Research Co-ordinator also has considerable input into SRS books.

This facility is, of course, for the use of members. Not a member? Join here. While the Research Co-ordinator does have contact with the Railway & Canal Historical Society (R&CHS), Railway Correspondence & Travel Society (RCTS), Historical Model Railway Society (HMRS), other "line" societies and bodies such as The National Archives (TNA) (previously called the Public Record Office (PRO), National Railway Museum (NRM) and the Railway Heritage Designation Advisory Board (RHDAB), he has only very limited time available to deal with non-members. That said, any member of another railway historical society whose research extends into signalling is welcome to make contact.

Has it Been Published Already?

Before contacting the Research Co-ordinator, it can be first useful to see if anyone has already published, or has had published, the results of their investigations.

The SRS is aware of a number of items that have been published already and some of these are listed on our Reference Book page. A digest list of some articles that have appeared in some magazines is available on the In Print page of this web site. Please read the pre-amble on those pages setting out the limitations of the list before going further. The list continues to grow! It is also worth checking to see what books have been published dealing with the Railway company or line concerned, or making a search via a web search facility. And a review might appear on the Book Review page of this web site.

Internet Resources

Increasingly reference material is available on the internet. We have links to some of these on our Links page and you may find our current OS map page useful as well.

There is a discussion forum on John Hinson's web site. Well worth joining here and, of course, you can also use our own Society Forum. If the information you want isn't covered you can always post a new thread.

Publishing Your Researches

The SRS strongly encourages researchers to publish the results of their investigations, and, if necessary, we can advise on outlets and formats for publication (not just through the SRS!). Please contact the Publications Coordinator in the first instance.

The Society has produced a guide to publishing which you may find useful. The guide is intended to cover several different circumstances, not all of which may be relevant to the material you have in mind. If in doubt don't be put off, ask!

Prospective authors of line histories are encouraged to join the society to make fullest use of the facilities available. A request for information in the SRS news-sheet can often result in useful information being offered by members. A separate booklet for historians “A Guide to Railway Research” is also available.

If you haven't already obtained it, the Acrobat® Reader program can be downloaded from here.

Railway Archive Reference System (RailRef)

This provides information on the extents of the various railways of the British Isles and is designed to assist in listing signal boxes and other items of railway infrastructure and the filing of records. An explanation of the system can be found here.

Ordnance Survey Maps

These are invaluable for research and a page showing current Ordnance Survey maps is available on this web site. The map is capable of showing 'markers' and these are being added steadily to assist pinpointing the location of places included in the RailRef Line Code listings. However, the scale of the maps means that 'markers' may be slightly off their true position or overlap. To separate overlapping markers use the scale setting device on the page to select the largest scale available. A gazetteer has been added but please be aware that only places that have been specifically marked on the maps are included. Both the number of 'markers' and the gazetteer will expand in scope as time goes by.

Places are usually listed under all of the names that we know to have been used for them and the county names used are generally those that applied in 1921. Boundary changes have taken place since, not all of them occurring in the 1970s! Due to limitations in the design of browsers, it is not possible to include the 'markers' for the entire country in a single map display. Selecting a location using the gazetteer will load the relevant 'markers' and links are included on the maps to adjacent sections as appropriate - no link means that the adjacent area isn't available yet. Links will also be added gradually to the Line Code listings and the index pages to 'In Print'.

Apart from location markers there are a few links to the older Ordnance Survey maps held by Landmark (old-maps web site)and the National Library of Scotland. These links are only shown at a small number of places but the facilities they lead to allow easy navigation to alternative locations. The National Library of Scotland has coverage of England, Scotland and Wales but some map types are only held by them for Scotland. Their site allows the map to be made transparent so that a modern Google Earth satellite view can be seen as well (but without the overlays) and the maps can be viewed in a larger window without any artificial overlay added.

Researchers should note that the marker locations have generally been taken from OS maps, past and present, box details from the signal box registers, station dates from Quick's "Railway Passenger Stations of Great Britain", and line dates from Cobb's Atlas. Researchers are advised to check back to primary information sources before using the information! And advise the webmaster of any errors spotted.

Key to 'Markers' used on the maps:

signal box, or ground frame or gate box in building resembling a signal box.
ground frame open to the elements.
open passenger station on the national rail network.
closed passenger station, once part of the national rail network.
open passenger station on a metro or heritage line, previously open as part of the national rail network.
open passenger station on a metro or heritage line, opened since the line was part of the national rail network.
open stopping place on a tram line, never part of the national railway network.
closed stopping place on a tram line, never part of the national railway network.
open stopping place on a narrow gauge / pleasure line, never part of the national railway network.
closed stopping place on a narrow gauge / pleasure line, never part of the national railway network.
goods yard and/or significant sidings.
loco shed / motive power depot.
bridge over the railway (overbridge).
bridge under the railway (underbridge).
bridge rail over rail (intersection bridge).
footbridge.
tunnel or tunnel portal.
manned level crossing - see below for explanation of types.
gate house.
user worked / accommodation level crossing - see below for explanation of types.
junction without (local) signalbox.
mining facility, may be deep level or opencast.
quarry, ballast pit etc..
factory or works.
dock or wharf.
sub station or TP hut.
information.
link(s) to next map in sequence, in the direction indicated by the arrow.
link to external web sites, primarily Landmark (old-maps) & National Library of Scotland (maps). Click on the icon to see what is available.
meeting venue or location for visit.

Symbols etc. used on current Ordnance Survey Maps:

25k Maps   25k Additional Symbols   50k Maps   Abbreviations

Level Crossing Types

Note: some types will be found in combination.

ABCL Automatic Barrier worked by the passage of trains, locally monitored.
AHB Automatic Half Barrier worked by the passage of trains. Barriers on approach half of the roadway. Operation of gates reported back to supervising signal box.
AOCL Automatic Open Crossing worked by the passage of trains, locally monitored.
AOCR Automatic Open Crossing worked by the passage of trains, remotely monitored.
MCB Manned Crossing Barriers. Operated by a signalman or crossing keeper.
MCB-CCTV Manned Crossing Barriers. Operated by a signalman or crossing keeper, crossing clear confirmed by use of Closed Circuit Television.
MCB-OD Manned Crossing Barriers. Automatic, crossing clear confirmed by Obstacle Detector.
MCG Manned Crossing Gates. Operated by a signalman or crossing keeper.
MGH Manned Crossing Gates. Hand operated by a signalman or crossing keeper. Keylocks provided.
MGW Manned Crossing Gates with wicket gates. Operated by a signalman or crossing keeper.
MSL Miniature red and green lights provided.
MWL Miniature red and green lights provided.
R/G Miniature red and green lights provided.
TMO Trainman operated.
TMOB Trainman operated barriers.
TMOG Trainman operated gates.
UWB User Worked barriers.
UWC User Worked Crossing. Gates opening away from the railway.
UWG User Worked Gates. Gates opening away from the railway.
-X at the end of the code indicates that the crossing controls and warnings also work for movements in the wrong direction.

Railway Terminology, Jargon and Slang

Many reference books contain a glossary of the terms used in the book and various people have published lists explaining the various abbreviations, acronyms and other terms used with mixed success. There is, however, no published work known to the Society that includes all such things. Indeed, such a book would rapidly go out of date as new terms come into use somewhere each year.

Where jargon or slang is involved the terms used are often localised and different terms or slang will be used by railwaymen for the same thing. To this localisation can be added the terms used by enthusiasts which can also differ from the terms used within the industry. Then add into the mix that the same term can mean something completely different in other places or circumstances.

For many researchers the quickest way to find the meaning of a railway term or abbreviation will be to use an internet search engine such as Google or Yahoo and see what comes forth in response. You might also want to see if following any of the entries in the reference section of the Links page leads to the answer.

Other Enquiries

For general enquiries about signalling not linked to specific signalling research, for example questions about a particular location please see the Enquiries page of this web site.