From the archive (1982): Westbury Signalbox “topped out”

Pictured in 2015 by Geof Sheppard – The panel signal box at Westbury in Wiltshire. The wagons loaded with stone are on a siding; the line to London curves eastwards alongside them and another pair of lines diverge to the left for Bristol. Creative Commons license.

A NEW signalbox at Westbury, Wiltshire, which will control 144 miles of track and replace 12 lever-frame boxes was topped-out on December 9 by William Kent, Deputy General Manager of British Railways, Western Region. The ceremony, when Mr. Kent poured the last shovelful of concrete, was organised by contractors, A. Roberts (Civil Engineering) Limited, of Seend, Melksham, Wilts.

The box represents part of the first stage in a £30m signal modernisation scheme covering 107 miles of line between Westbury and Totnes, Devon. The overall scheme, due to be completed in 1988, involves replacing all GWR style semaphore signals with multiaspect colour lights controlled from one box at Westbury and one at Exeter. More than 40 lever-frame boxes will be closed.

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Westbury is due to be commissioned in 1984 and will control the West of England main line as far as Somerton — about 16 route miles — and the freight lines used by limestone trains from quarries at Whatley near Frome and Merehead near Cranmore. When fully operational it will control 123 main-line and 46 subsidiary signals and 127 point ends. Site work on the box, designed by BR architects at Paddington, started in June. At present 700 of Western’s 1,900 route miles are controlled by multiaspect signalling operated from eleven power signalboxes. The Westbury – Totnes modernisation will link colour lights already working between London and Westbury and in the Plymouth area.

Westbury panel will be the first “divided” type installed on Western Region: that is, with track diagram and train describers displayed on a separate 54 ft.-long panel independent of the signalling control console. Until now panels have been combined. This equipment will also include a new pattern of electronic train describer developed by WR.

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