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Birmingham Small Arms (BSA) and Singer Motors: misc_bsa&singer183

A low resolution version of the Signalling Diagram for Small Heath South Signal Box showing the arrangement post 1945

A low resolution version of the Signalling Diagram for Small Heath South Signal Box showing the arrangement post 1945. This has been reproduced here courtesy of the Signalling Record Society (S.R.S.). Details of how to purchase their full resolution content is available here.

Over the years, traffic demands resulted in the Great Western Railway gradually quadrupling the Birmingham main line between Handsworth Junction and Lapworth. This was a huge undertaking and the work was done piecemeal and was only finally completed in 1934. By the time that the North Warwickshire branch opened in December 1907, the track had only been quadrupled between Olton and Tyseley. With restricted space at Bordesley, it had been decided to relocated the engine shed from there to between Small Heath and Tyseley and the new Tyseley Engine Shed opened in June 1908. The Main Line quadrupling was extended to the junction with the new Engine Shed and a new Signal Box was built adjacent to the Up Main line opposite this junction. This was initially called Tyseley Loco Signal Box and the nameplate for this Signal Box was ordered in early 1908 (Order No 258).

Within a year the next phase of the quadrupling through Small Heath Station was planned and order No 261 was placed on 5th May 1909 for the nameplates for Small Heath South Signal Box and Small Heath North Signal Box. A new timber Signal Box was built in the Engine Shed approach and this then became Tyseley Loco Signal Box, while the original Signal Box adjacent to the Main Line was either rebuilt or more likely, just renamed Small Heath South Signal Box. This Signal Box was built to standard Great Western Railway brick design with a hipped tiled roof (Type 7). The Signal Box was 38 feet long, 13 feet wide and the operating floor was 11 feet above the rail level. This had the characteristic three up two down window panes. The signal box housed a fifty-five lever, 3 bar horizontal tappet frame with the levers at 5.25 inch centres. In September 1913 there were 13 spare levers, but the following year, four of these spare levers were used for detonator placing machines on the main and relief lines.

Small Heath South Signal Box was open continuously controlling the block sections on the main and relief double lines and from 1918 the goods double line. The Signalman sent messages to the preceding Signal Box to give permission for trains to enter the block section on their line and used signals to indicate to train drivers when they were allowed to proceed. Distant Signals, distinguished by their forked tails and yellow colour (post October 1928) gave train drivers advance warning of the status of the next ‘Stop’ Signal.

Small Heath South Signal Box also controlled train movements associated with the two pairs of cross-over switches and the junction from the Goods line to the Engine and Carriage Shed. From March 1919, the Signal Box controlled the switches associated with the recently installed connection of the BSA Private Siding to the Main line. The Signalman could set a route with the point switch levers. These were interlocked with various types of signals (including ground disc signals), operation of which informed the locomotive driver of the selected route and when to proceed. This interlocking with signals ensured that these indicated to other trains, when they could no longer proceed safely and had to stop.

Visibility was important in the days before track circuits and the Signal Box was positioned where it could oversee the most complex trackwork. In March 1919 track circuit indication was added to the cross-over connections to prevent fouling of the lines adjacent to the switches and also for 170 yards along the up main and up relief lines between the Home signal at the crossover and Small Heath North Starting signal. Track circuit indication is shown as a dotted line on the signal diagram.

Small Heath South Signal Box closed on 1st September 1969.

Robert Ferris