Southern Signals

Lever Frames.
The lever frame is the traditional method used for operating the signals and points (turnouts) under the control of the Signalman in his Signalbox. Most would be in the Signalbox itself, although ancilliary ones can be outside, beside the track, and referred to as Ground Frames. These may be provided because there is no room on the Signalbox frame, because the place of operation is too far away from the Signalbox or because it is more convenient for someone else, e.g. a Shunter, to operate it.

As with everything else, lever frames come in different shapes and sizes, but also as in everything else, the basic principles are the same. The levers operate their various functions whilst at the same time operating a locking system that prevents another lever or levers being pulled if that were to set up a conflicting movement or other unsafe movement. In addition to this mechanical locking there will also normally be electrical locking installed which doesn't just rely on the movement of the levers for its operation but also uses track circuits and other electrical detection devices.

The photographs set out below of Portslade and Shoreham-by-Sea Signalboxes were all taken in June 1986, not long before the end of semaphore signals on this section, which occurred in May 1988 with the commissioning of a new panel in the existing box at Lancing.

SBS Frame The frame in Shoreham-by-Sea 'A' Signalbox.

A notable feature of this Signalbox was its large wooden swing gates, designed to span three tracks, but these had been replaced by lifting barriers in the spring of 1985; their control panel can be seen towards the left of the photograph on the left.

photographs by Mark Westcott

SBS Frame
The shelf above the levers is known as the 'Block Shelf' as it carries the block instruments, as well as various other point and signal indicators etc. The white levers are 'spare' levers and have a sorry tale to tell. Although they might not all have been used, most will have been and now tell of the drastic reduction in the railway layout in the Shoreham area.

As well as the white levers referred to above, there are red, yellow, black and blue ones in the photographs. The red ones are for working home signals, the yellow ones for distant (caution) signals, the black ones for points and the blue ones for locks to prevent the possibility of the points moving under a passing train. Two of the red levers have white stripes on them which show that these are the signals that control entry to the section of line between this and the next Signalbox. In a double track situation, as here, these levers are released by the adjacent Signalbox whilst on a single line section they are released by the single line token being obtained, which in itself requires a release from the adjacent Signalbox. A few of the levers are shorter than the others which indicates that they control power-worked functions.

The normal method for manual functions is to use wires for the signals and rodding for the points whilst power-worked functions use a motor sited at the signal or point concerned.

The lever frame in Shoreham-by-Sea 'B' Signalbox. Once again we have a collection of red, yellow, black and blue levers, plus the white ones indicating how much busier the Signalbox was in the past. The diagram above the block shelf is interesting as it still shows the Beeding cement works branch (itself the remains of the Shoreham to Christ's Hospital line) despite the connection to the main line having been dismantled by the time of this photograph.

photograph by Mark Westcott

SBS Frame
SBS Frame The frame in Portslade Signalbox.

These photos were taken in June 1986 after the temporary fringe 'box at Hove had been absorbed into Three Bridges' territory, but before the end of semaphores on this section, which occurred in May 1988 with the commissioning of a new panel in the existing box at Lancing. Portslade was thus the new fringe 'box, and the VDU and keyboard linked into Three Bridges 'box are visible on the extreme left of the block shelf in the photograph on the left.

photographs by Mark Westcott

SBS Frame

All photographs are copyright

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This page was created 20 February 2004

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