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Old Signal Box at Weston Super Mare General Railway Station

A Grade II Listed Building in Weston-Super-Mare, North Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.345 / 51°20'42"N

Longitude: -2.971 / 2°58'15"W

OS Eastings: 332466

OS Northings: 161108

OS Grid: ST324611

Mapcode National: GBR J6.VKDS

Mapcode Global: VH7CK.GG67

Entry Name: Old Signal Box at Weston Super Mare General Railway Station

Listing Date: 17 August 1987

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1129748

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33266

Location: Weston-Super-Mare, North Somerset, BS23

County: North Somerset

Civil Parish: Weston-super-Mare

Built-Up Area: Weston-Super-Mare

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

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Weston-super-Mare

Listing Text

WESTON-SUPER-MARE NEVA ROAD
1
5121
ST 3261 SW 11/87
Old signal box at
Weston-Super-Mare
General Railway
II Station

Signal box. c.1866 Coursed squared limestone with Bath stone dressings and
Welsh slate roof. Rectangular plan, the left-hand bay an addition. Two storeys,
frame room above store. Two windows to main front, one 8 pane casement (the
addition), one 21 pane fixed window in Bath stone frames; the right hand corner
has been chamfered to allow working into a new siding. 4 pane sash in gable wall.
Rear door with external wooden stair. Built for the Bristol and Exeter Railway
and said to be the oldest surviving signal box on the British rail system. De-
commissioned in 1884 when present station built and with the equipment gone but
apparently very unaltered externally.


Listing NGR: ST3246661108

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

Summary

Decommissioned signal box, built around 1866 for the Bristol and Exeter Railway, extended in the early C20.

Description

Decommissioned signal box, built around 1866 for the Bristol and Exeter Railway; extended in the early C20.

MATERIALS: coursed-squared limestone with Bath stone dressings and Welsh slate roof.

PLAN: a rectangular plan orientated north-west to south-east; the left-hand bay is a later addition.

EXTERIOR: a two-storey signal box with first-floor windows. The north-east elevation windows of eight and 21 panes in Bath stone frames. The right-hand corner of this elevation is chamfered. The north and south gable ends each contain a four-pane sash, and there is a ground–floor door in the south-gable end. The windows have all been boarded over. The remains of an external wooden stair and porch are attached to the south-west elevation. Iron ties are visible at the south end.

INTERIOR: there is a store on the ground floor and an operational room above which was accessed via the external staircase. The building has a tie-beam roof. The lever frame and all other operating equipment has been removed.

History

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 signal box at Weston-super-Mare was constructed in 1866. It was built for the Bristol and Exeter Railway (B&ER) who were allied with the Great Western Railway (GWR) and shared the same chief engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The line from Bristol to Exeter was laid out between 1841-1844, and the first section was opened between Bristol and Bridgwater on 14 June 1841. This section was 54km in length, with a 3km single-track branch line to Weston-super-Mare. The town’s first station opened in 1841 (on the site of what was to become Alexander Parade Gardens). In 1866 a new station was built to the south (now the site of a supermarket), accommodating a newly-expanded double-track branch line and the signal box was built 300m to the south-east. In 1879 the B&ER amalgamated with the GWR, and in 1884 a new railway loop line was completed, replacing the Weston branch line. A new station was built on a bend in the line and the earlier station was then used for goods. The signal box appears to have remained in use and in the early C20 a southern bay was added, possibly to accommodate a larger level frame. The box had been decommissioned by the late C20, by which time the surrounding tracks had been removed.

Reasons for Listing

The disused signal box north-east of Weston-super-Mare railway station which dates from 1866 is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Historical interest:
* The Weston-super-Mare box is considered to be the oldest surviving signal box on the British rail system;

Architectural interest:
* A good and legible example of a mid-C19 signal box which is relatively unaltered externally;

Group value:
* A strong historic and visual relationship with the Grade-II listed railway station of 1875-76.

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