Summary of Building
Standard Midland Railway Signal Box, built 1891, moved and restored 1997-9, now regularly open to the public.
Reasons for Designation
Settle Station Signal Box and adjacent signal and isolated section of track are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Preservation: being restored into an original appearance both externally and internally, retaining features that are typically lost such as the external balcony, being the oldest surviving signal box on the Settle to Carlisle Line. * Fittings: having a wide range of original equipment, especially the Midland Railway lever frame with its interlocking mechanisms housed on the floor of the operating room. * Signal and Points: the immediately adjacent semaphore signal and section of track adds interest as they allow the mechanical operation of the signal box to be demonstrated to the public. * Group Value: with the other listed buildings associated with Settle Station as well as more widely along the Settle to Carlisle Railway Line Conservation Area.
From the 1840s, huts or cabins were provided for men operating railway signals. These were often located on raised platforms containing levers to operate the signals and in the early 1860s, the fully glazed signal box, initially raised high on stilts to give a good view down the line, emerged. The interlocking of signals and points, perhaps the most important single advance in rail safety, patented by John Saxby in 1856, was the final step in the evolution of railway signalling into a form recognisable today. Signal boxes were built to a great variety of different designs and sizes to meet traffic needs by signalling contractors and the railway companies themselves.
Signal box numbers peaked at around 12,000-13,000 for Great Britain just prior to the First World War and successive economies in working led to large reductions in their numbers from the 1920s onwards. British Railways inherited around 10,000 in 1948 and numbers dwindled rapidly to about 4000 by 1970. In 2012, about 750 remained in use; it was anticipated that most would be rendered redundant over the next decade.
The Midland Railway employed a standard design of signal box from 1870, the boxes being built from prefabricated timber panels manufactured at their works in Derby allowing for swift erection on site. The design continued to be used, with only minor variations in terms of panel size and arrangement of glazing bars, up until 1929. The company was late to adopt the practice of interlocking points and signals resulting in a systematic programme of re-signalling work across their network from 1890 onwards to comply with the requirements of the 1889 Regulation of Railways Act. Settle Station Signal Box was opened in April 1891, replacing the earlier, smaller predecessor, and is thought to have been one of the first built to the new requirements. It was authorised on the 2nd May 1890 and, together with the associated resignalling, cost £235. The box is a Type 2a design having panels 10 feet (3.048m) wide with small paned windows. The signal box was originally located some 140m to the south, next to the now demolished goods shed, and controlled train movements between Settle Junction and Stainforth as well as within the goods yard. It ceased operation in 1984 and was moved to its current position in 1997 and subsequently restored as a visitor attraction by the Friends of the Settle to Carlisle Line. The Settle to Carlisle Line was the last major trunk route to be constructed in the Victorian period, the last to be constructed without the use of heavy earth-moving machinery, a major engineering endeavour across difficult terrain, giving the Midland Railway a main line connection to Scotland. The historic interest of the line as a whole was recognised in 1991 by its designation as a 78 mile long Conservation Area.
Railway signal box, 1891, by and for the Midland Railway. Relocated and restored 1997-99.
MATERIALS Timber with a Welsh slate roof.
EXTERIOR Signal box of two bays and two storeys with a shallow-pitched, hipped roof. The first floor operating room has continuous glazing to the west (facing the tracks) and to the two ends, the rear being blind. The doorway is in the north end, reached by an external flight of timber steps which also gives access to an external balcony-walkway around the front of the box to facilitate window cleaning. The ground floor has windows to the ends only. The signal box is in original, restored condition with timber, single glazed windows divided with glazing bars (those to the operating floor being horizontal sliding sashes) and areas of plain walling finished with horizontal weather-boarding. The roof retains its turned-timber spike-finials. The Settle Station name board to the front is a modern reproduction.
INTERIOR This is restored complete with a Midland Railways lever frame of 20 levers (which has the interlocking mechanisms within the operating room rather than in the room below), Absolute Block Instruments and bells. The ground-floor room retains counter balances.
SUBSIDIARY ITEMS Immediately outside the signal box to the north there is a twin armed semaphore signal. Immediately to the south there is a short, isolated section of track complete with a point blade, a set of track warning detonators and a ground signal. All of these items are connected to the relevant levers within the signal box to allow the operation of the signal box to be demonstrated.
Book Reference - Author: Signalling Study Group - Title: The Signal Box - Date: 1986 - Page References: 140 - Type:
Book Reference - Author: Minnis, J - Title: Railway Signal Boxes, a Review - Date: 2012
National Grid Reference: SD8170863421