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New book: GWR Signalling Practice


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The latest publication from the Great Western Study Group is 'GWR Signalling Practice' by David Smith. For more information & ordering details visit the Publications page of the GWSG's website: http://www.gwsg.org.uk/

 

This is a substantial hardback book of 395 pages, over 260 photographs, 121 drawings (some official), 7 appendices, & indexed. The book can be purchased at the GWSG's AGM & Members' Day to be held at Didcot Civic Hall on Saturday 15th June. Ordered copies will be sent out afterwards. Non-members are welcome to attend Members' Day - see the GWSG's website for details.

 

Members are offered a £10 discount so why not join the Group - details on the website.

 

cvr_signalling_practice_400px.jpg.e181b3af6b52f2d209c953b4f971129f.jpgcvr_rear_signalling_practice_400px.jpg.907c6eca93559af6cb7cf13788ae4103.jpg

Edited by martinT
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Mike

 

I have seen the proof copy and it is an impressive piece of work, full of detail and with a lot of very nice photographs. As I understand it, the author is very knowledgable in this field so it will be interesting to see what you make of it!

 

GWSG poster.pdf

 

I will be getting copies as soon as it is available and it will be a book that I will be keeping in stock thereafter.

 

Off topic, but my shop (The Titfield Thunderbolt) is going to be open on one day per week only (Fridays) from the end of June, although mail order continues unabated and I will continue with shows as Wild Swan too.

 

I am making this change in order to spend more time on developing new Wild Swan books, but I also intend to also start having themed opening days in the shop - perhaps we could have one on signalling with yourself in residence to discuss and answer questions, based around this book? Feel free to pm me if this holds any appeal from your point of view.

 

I will start a separate thread to announce these changes and other developments, all cleared with Phil and Andy.

 

I am also in touch with someone whose father took some stunning colour images of Great Western signalling that I hope to do something with publication-wise, you will be a great person for me to talk to if/when I get around to doing this!

 

Apologies for the thread hijack, this book looks really super and I am sure will become the go to reference on what is an important and fascinating subject.

 

Best Wishes

 

Simon Castens

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11 hours ago, The Stationmaster said:

Interesting.  Has anybody seen a review of it yet as it's a pretty expensive volume covering a very complex subject area.  But loads of illustrations which could be useful.

I've got David J Smith's book on GWR Switch and Crossing Practice, which is an excellent reference resource. I might be interested in this one too, despite the price, but I'm a bit perplexed having read the caption to the top photo on the front cover: "The signal controls entry to a siding via facing points." The photo in question has a standard 4ft arm - wouldn't a signal controlling entry to a siding have a 3ft one (and how else do you enter a siding if not via facing points)?

 

Like you Mike, I think I'll wait for the reviews.

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On 07/06/2019 at 00:15, The Stationmaster said:

Interesting.  Has anybody seen a review of it yet as it's a pretty expensive volume covering a very complex subject area.  But loads of illustrations which could be useful.

 

On 06/06/2019 at 12:19, martinT said:

The latest publication from the Great Western Study Group is 'GWR Signalling Practice' by David Smith. For more information & ordering details visit the Publications page of the GWSG's website: http://www.gwsg.org.uk/

 

This is a substantial hardback book of 395 pages, over 260 photographs, 121 drawings (some official), 7 appendices, & indexed. The book can be purchased at the GWSG's AGM & Members' Day to be held at Didcot Civic Hall on Saturday 15th June. Ordered copies will be sent out afterwards. Non-members are welcome to attend Members' Day - see the GWSG's website for details.

 

Members are offered a £10 discount so why not join the Group - details on the website.

 

cvr_signalling_practice_400px.jpg.e181b3af6b52f2d209c953b4f971129f.jpgcvr_rear_signalling_practice_400px.jpg.907c6eca93559af6cb7cf13788ae4103.jpg

Looks to be a good book of the type that will be invaluable as a reference book. Having put a number of books together myself, I know just how much time this will have taken to get to the printing stage!

 

 

https://www.chimewhistle.co.uk/page/new-products

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On 07/06/2019 at 11:59, St Enodoc said:

I've got David J Smith's book on GWR Switch and Crossing Practice, which is an excellent reference resource. I might be interested in this one too, despite the price, but I'm a bit perplexed having read the caption to the top photo on the front cover: "The signal controls entry to a siding via facing points." The photo in question has a standard 4ft arm - wouldn't a signal controlling entry to a siding have a 3ft one (and how else do you enter a siding if not via facing points)?

 

Like you Mike, I think I'll wait for the reviews.

Ooops!    That is, or rather was, the Down Bay to Down Relief Starting Signal at Taunton West Station 'box.  The co-located ground disc read to what was originally a through siding to Taunton West Jcn which was at some date (possibl;y when Taunton West Jcn 'box closed in , I think, late 1970) altered to a single ended siding - which it probably was by the time that photo was taken.

 

One caption/description wrong does not a horlicks make of the whole book but I too reserve judgement.

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Looks like the cover displayed above was a proof. I now have a copy of the book and the caption in question has been amended to make it clear that it is the disc signal that is being described.

 

I can thoroughly recommend the book. Those who collect GWR eccentricities will be particularly delighted by the backing distant signal (found at Aberdare High Level in 1922) illustrated on page 58, complete with perforated fish-tailed arm.

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19 hours ago, 4069 said:

Looks like the cover displayed above was a proof. I now have a copy of the book and the caption in question has been amended to make it clear that it is the disc signal that is being described.

 

I can thoroughly recommend the book. Those who collect GWR eccentricities will be particularly delighted by the backing distant signal (found at Aberdare High Level in 1922) illustrated on page 58, complete with perforated fish-tailed arm.

Ah, so at least it has got one of the seemingly very rare Backing Distants in it - does it have any more I wonder such as the one believed to have been at Friars Jcn?  

 

The Aberdare one appears to have lasted until 1955 (although quite in what form is unknown) but one of the others might have gone a lot earlier.

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Now in stock at The Titfield Thunderbolt, this is a well produced and lavishly illustrated work of reference on an important subject. Great reference for modellers, I doubt it is entirely free of errors but I also very much doubt anyone else will ever do any better....

 

Congratulations to all involved in producing this magnum opus for our delectation and delight!

 

Newly available

 

I am sure other bookshops and specialist retailers will also be stocking this great book.

 

Simon

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Without me spending £45 to buy a book that looks very interesting, but isn't really in my subject area(s), can anyone tell me what a Backing Distant is for?

 

I'm imagining a signal that tells me whether I should expect to find a backing signal "on" or "off", when I get to it, but imagine myself to be going forward at the moment, so won't get to the distant until I've passed the signal it is going to tell me about, which seems a tad illogical .......... but, I'm probably misunderstanding!

 

PS: I actually struggle with the idea of a backing signal at all, but can just about get my head around it.

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For those of us who choose to model periods prior to the Great War (WW1 in modern parlance) does the book have much detail of the early days and the period when following the 1889 Railways Act when much interlocking and signalling was upgraded.

 

thanks Don

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On 07/06/2019 at 01:15, The Stationmaster said:

Interesting.  Has anybody seen a review of it yet as it's a pretty expensive volume covering a very complex subject area.  But loads of illustrations which could be useful.

His first work, on GWR Permanent Way, was first class so I have pre-ordered a copy on that basis.

I think it has to be better than Adrian Vaughan's OPC work on the subject which is, to my mind, overly subjective in its coverage, even if Adrian did learn the basics of signalling from my late father-in-law.

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10 hours ago, Donw said:

For those of us who choose to model periods prior to the Great War (WW1 in modern parlance) does the book have much detail of the early days and the period when following the 1889 Railways Act when much interlocking and signalling was upgraded.

 

thanks Don

 

Request seconded.

 

Some of us still live in a world of red distant signals!

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1 hour ago, bécasse said:

His first work, on GWR Permanent Way, was first class so I have pre-ordered a copy on that basis.

I think it has to be better than Adrian Vaughan's OPC work on the subject which is, to my mind, overly subjective in its coverage, even if Adrian did learn the basics of signalling from my late father-in-law.

It will inevitably be better than Adrian's book - his was in many respects a trail blazer and it also reflected his lack of knowledge of some things which appeared in it (e.g. the WWII intermediate block signals in the Severn Tunnel) but, as ever with Adrian. it caught an element of romanticism which no doubt helped it sell.  Some top notch (official) illustrations but lacking in parts.

 

And as Adrian was at one time one of my Signalmen I'd like to have met your father-in-law (but I'm not saying why in public. ;) )

 

12 hours ago, Nearholmer said:

Without me spending £45 to buy a book that looks very interesting, but isn't really in my subject area(s), can anyone tell me what a Backing Distant is for?

 

I'm imagining a signal that tells me whether I should expect to find a backing signal "on" or "off", when I get to it, but imagine myself to be going forward at the moment, so won't get to the distant until I've passed the signal it is going to tell me about, which seems a tad illogical .......... but, I'm probably misunderstanding!

 

PS: I actually struggle with the idea of a backing signal at all, but can just about get my head around it.

One strange thing about the Backing Distant was that it didn't necessarily go with a Backing Signal, for example the one at Aberdare (which is probably the best known because it appeared in an excellent photo) applied to a ground disc signal.  I have never - so far - been able to find out enough about the Friars Jcn one apart from it appearing in a rather blurry photo to establish if it applied to a Backing Signal or to a disc.  There was also reputedly one somewhere on the Northern Division but I have never come across any concrete information about it: maybe the book will tell us (especially if the author had obtained any information from John Morris who was THE authority on GWR signalling)?

 

Effectively the Backing Distant - judging by the one at Aberdare - served as an indicator that the disc (or Backing Signal?) to which it applied had been cleared and the locking chart for Aberdare indicates that Backing Distant was released by the disc signal to which it applied,  As that disc would have had a white light when at danger it is then immediately obvious that the Backing Distant was there for trains reversing into sidings (the only movement for which the disc could be lowered) and, as a photograph of its situation shows, it must have been provided purely for sighting reasons as there was no way the enginemen on a long train could see either the disc signal (in the 6 foot) or any handsignals due to line curvature and the presence of buildings on the inside of the curve.  So that one was there for a very specific purpose and particular, no doubt regular/frequent movements.

 

Another interesting thing about these seemingly extremely rare signals is that they are not mentioned in the GWR General Appendix and the one at Aberdare is definitely not mentioned in the relevant (1926 edition) of the Appendix to the relevant section of the Service Timetable - what we would nowadays call the Sectional Appendix.   This is another oddity because the Aberdare signal had a completely different meaning from that of an 'ordinary' Backing Signal because it very obviously could have been passed when lowered without the need for a verbal instruction from Guard or Shunter etc to the Driver to proceed (as was necessary in the case of 'ordinary' Backing Signals).  While the Rule changed over the years - mainly it appears from the relevant minutes because the GWR had difficulty in making up its mind  about the meaning of a Backing Signal when 'off' - it seems clear to me that in the case of the Aberdare Backing Distant its meaning was consistent.

 

Incidentally a relatively early (c.1921/2) photo of it appears to show glass in both spectacles and definitely so in the 'on' spectacle which again is to me indicative of its purpose.  The arm was apparently red then - as one would expect - with no marking other than the fishtail and the two holes.   Whether or not is was ever painted yeloow is, for me at any rate, an interesting question.

 

And that is about the best I can do on the subject. 

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1 hour ago, Not Jeremy said:

Yes it does, but really you would both need to look at the book and make your own minds up, given your very specific stated area of interest.

 

Simon

 

Thank you. I'm not sure I'd relegate the period 1835-1914 as "very specific"(!), but I take your point. Few in the hobby seem to look backwards as far as even the 1930s these days.  All ancient history.

 

Fortunately, I have an interest in the GWR that doesn't start or stop at Grouping, so I'll certainly be saving up for this one.  It is still good to know that the focus is not exclusively upon the late steam age. 

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27 minutes ago, Edwardian said:

 

Thank you. I'm not sure I'd relegate the period 1835-1914 as "very specific"(!), but I take your point. Few in the hobby seem to look backwards as far as even the 1930s these days.  All ancient history.

 

Fortunately, I have an interest in the GWR that doesn't start or stop at Grouping, so I'll certainly be saving up for this one.  It is still good to know that the focus is not exclusively upon the late steam age. 

I sincerely hope it isn't late steam age because there were several periods, or important dates, in respect of changes to GWR and WR semaphore signalling practice and equipment.  While 1950 was a major watershed as far as new work was concerned there were some interesting (to me) changes in the late steam period but a massive period of change over a couple of decades between the wars and another interesting period of experimentation and novel developments in the decade or so prior to 1914.  And that's after you take into account the age of introducing interlocking and changes to signal form and indications which took place in roughly the last quarter of the 19th century.

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So, I think I've now got a a "backing distant" logged in my head as being not far different in purpose, if not function, from a repeater for a shunting signal that has to be observed for movements in the abnormal direction, but which can't easily be seen from the position of the driver.

 

About right?

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5 hours ago, The Stationmaster said:

One strange thing about the Backing Distant was that it didn't necessarily go with a Backing Signal, for example the one at Aberdare (which is probably the best known because it appeared in an excellent photo) applied to a ground disc signal.  I have never - so far - been able to find out enough about the Friars Jcn one apart from it appearing in a rather blurry photo to establish if it applied to a Backing Signal or to a disc.  There was also reputedly one somewhere on the Northern Division but I have never come across any concrete information about it: maybe the book will tell us (especially if the author had obtained any information from John Morris who was THE authority on GWR signalling)?

 

Effectively the Backing Distant - judging by the one at Aberdare - served as an indicator that the disc (or Backing Signal?) to which it applied had been cleared and the locking chart for Aberdare indicates that Backing Distant was released by the disc signal to which it applied,  As that disc would have had a white light when at danger it is then immediately obvious that the Backing Distant was there for trains reversing into sidings (the only movement for which the disc could be lowered) and, as a photograph of its situation shows, it must have been provided purely for sighting reasons as there was no way the enginemen on a long train could see either the disc signal (in the 6 foot) or any handsignals due to line curvature and the presence of buildings on the inside of the curve.  So that one was there for a very specific purpose and particular, no doubt regular/frequent movements.

 

Another interesting thing about these seemingly extremely rare signals is that they are not mentioned in the GWR General Appendix and the one at Aberdare is definitely not mentioned in the relevant (1926 edition) of the Appendix to the relevant section of the Service Timetable - what we would nowadays call the Sectional Appendix.   This is another oddity because the Aberdare signal had a completely different meaning from that of an 'ordinary' Backing Signal because it very obviously could have been passed when lowered without the need for a verbal instruction from Guard or Shunter etc to the Driver to proceed (as was necessary in the case of 'ordinary' Backing Signals).  While the Rule changed over the years - mainly it appears from the relevant minutes because the GWR had difficulty in making up its mind  about the meaning of a Backing Signal when 'off' - it seems clear to me that in the case of the Aberdare Backing Distant its meaning was consistent.

 

Incidentally a relatively early (c.1921/2) photo of it appears to show glass in both spectacles and definitely so in the 'on' spectacle which again is to me indicative of its purpose.  The arm was apparently red then - as one would expect - with no marking other than the fishtail and the two holes.   Whether or not is was ever painted yeloow is, for me at any rate, an interesting question.

 

And that is about the best I can do on the subject. 

 

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4 hours ago, Nearholmer said:

So, I think I've now got a a "backing distant" logged in my head as being not far different in purpose, if not function, from a repeater for a shunting signal that has to be observed for movements in the abnormal direction, but which can't easily be seen from the position of the driver.

 

About right?

Absolutely sir.   Replaced in slightly later years by the use of a klaxon or some sort of flashing light (as we had at Radyr) giving flashes in accordance with the handisgnalling whistle code, or even later by the use at some places of Toton signals, and in more modern times by the use of back-to-back radios.

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On 22/06/2019 at 18:17, Edwardian said:

For those of us unable to inspect the book prior to purchase, I wonder if the contents page might be reproduced?

 

I was in two minds as to whether to provide a "Contents List" as this doesn't really do justice to any book. It's whats in each "Chapter" that counts and in my view, this book does very well in that department.

 

 

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David,

 

Are three position semaphore signals mentioned - I can't work it out from that list although they might be under tubular 'mast' signals.    The GWR had probably the largest (4+miles continuously track circuited) plain line installation of three position semaphores, including automatic signals in Britain.  Although interestingly their very first one, at Paddington, was subsequently replaced by a three aspect colour light before they went in for semaphore style aspects in their relatively widespread colour light installations of the 1930s.  (Yes, I realise that 3 position signals are illustrated in the 1936 GA.). And does it include the GWR's use of power lever frames and equipment prior to 1914 or the route lever installations of the 1920s or the double wire installation (where I'd love to know how the double wire levers worked tappet interlocking?) 

 

I'm a little surprised that it doesn't include an extract from the 1920 GA which had some excellent signal illustrations showing some older types of signal in the fold out of signal drawings while the 1960 Regional Appendix illustrated the 'new' pattern Goods and Siding arms which were never amended in the illustrations in the 1936 GA (although there was a small written amendment to thems issued in January 1950).  

 

BTW what period are the bell codes and Headlamp Codes for as there were all sorts of detail changes going on almost from the time the GWR adopted the RCH Headlamp Code (which I think was first published by the Company c.1919 or possibly not until the 1920 reissue of the General Appendix?).

 

If all these things aren't in the book it's hardly likely to put me off but it might sell a little short any comments about the comprehensiveness of its coverage.

 

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