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Great Western colour light signals

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Does anyone know where I can find some photos of GWR colour light signals of the kind installed at Bristol Temple Meads in the 1930s? How long did these signals last, would they still have been in use at the end of steam?

 

Lastly (and this is probably a long shot) does anyone know if there are any N gauge versions available? They do not have to be working as long as they are the right type.

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Does anyone know where I can find some photos of GWR colour light signals of the kind installed at Bristol Temple Meads in the 1930s? How long did these signals last, would they still have been in use at the end of steam?

 

Try the GWR 'signalling bible' by Adrian Vaughan, published originally by OPC in the 70s.

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I believe there are some drawings in that tome.

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I believe they were still in use in some places at the end of steam - I can remember similar signals in use at Cardiff General.

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Brian R

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If these are the red/green and yellow/green searchlights, as I dimly recall seeing in Kitchenside and Williams, then similar ones were used in America and it may be worth checking out US suppliers for models.

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Try the GWR 'signalling bible' by Adrian Vaughan, published originally by OPC in the 70s.

 

I believe there are some drawings in that tome.

Many thanks for the suggestion, I will try and track down a copy.

 

If these are the red/green and yellow/green searchlights, as I dimly recall seeing in Kitchenside and Williams, then similar ones were used in America and it may be worth checking out US suppliers for models.

Yes I think that is the case. I believe that they were intended to replace existing home and distant semaphore signals on a 1-for-1 basis. I will try having a look at american models too.

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I've recently got the Westinghouse advertising brochure for the renewal carried out at Cardiff General in 1934. The power boxes installed were also very similar to those installed at Bristol along with good pictures of the new gantries and mechanical track detonators etc. I haven't had a good read through it yet but I asume the whole installation was done by Westinghouse based on that. I think Cardiff lost its in the lates 60s/early 70s around the time it became Central after the Newport signalling renewal was completed and they moved on to Cardiff.

 

These would probably be the easiest signals to do by hand with some etched disks and very small single colour LEDs unless something in the US makes them.

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Colin Maggs 'Rail Centres - Bristol' is worth a look, there are some relevant photos in there. As far as I know the GW colour lights lasted until the Bristol area re-signalling scheme of 1970, and the ones at Paddington lasted until the remodelling there of Autumn 1967.

 

HTH,

 

Nidge wink.gif

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As has been said the colour lights lasted until Cardiff / Bristol and Old Oak power boxes came along. They were semaphore colour lights - each lamp displayed red / green or yellow /green (and the shunts were small extras), like a semaphore rather than a using a single 3 or 4 aspect signal.

 

GWR signalling by Vaughan is the one to get (again as suggested above)

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Not much to add but the Ccardiff signals were slightly different as they came from a different manufacturer and all installations (i.e. Paddington, Bristol and Cardiff) lasted past the end of WR steam.

 

There definitely used to be somesuitable signals on the US market but I think the nearest ones currently available have 3 searchlight heads instead of two - they could perhaps be modified? Some of the ground signals used at Bristol had a 3 aspect head (without back shades) and could possobly be modified from stuff on the British market but they were smaller than standard running signal heads.

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Ones around Southall lasted into the mid 70's when I took this.

 

They however are conversions dating from the late 1950s. The original two aspect searchlight signals working as stop and distant signals were removed and replaced by 4 aspect signals (mostly, a few were 3 aspect) with the original 2 aspect units re-engineered to 3 aspect and incorporated at the bottom to show red/yellow/green and a second, much smaller unit added at the top to provide the second yellow for a double yellow. And a new backplate provided to produce the pattern you show (which could also be found on the GE and LT&S lines following early 1960s resignalling). But a smashing pic for all that :)

 

And being searchlight signals with electro-mechanical mechanisms they tended to suffer a bit from 'bouncing' aspects - I remember going up towards Acton one night on a 'Warship' (the proper D8XX sort) when a signal bounced as we approached and the Driver made a fairly hard brake application. A hard brake application was not a sensible thing to do on a milk train and the ruddy tank cars were still bashing and banging to & fro as we crossed over to the Main at Old Oak, it was probably a train of cream by the time we got to Wood Lane :rolleyes:

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With regards to Bristol Temple Meads and The General Railway Signal Company installation...

 

High Speed Passenger Running Line signals are the type SA searchlight, giving red and green aspects for the Stop signals and yellow and green aspects for the distant signals.

 

The Platform Homes and Starters are 2-aspect type MV signals fitted with 8 3/8 in. diameter doublet "hotstrip" lenses with SL.17 12 volt double filament rebased lamps. The "hotstrip" is provided to give a "close-up" indication.

 

Backing, Loop and Dwarf signals are the ME multiple aspect type equipped with 110 volt 25 watt rebased lamps and having 5 1/2 in. inner doublet coloured lens with 6 3/8 in. outer clear spreadlite lenses, green at top, red at bottom.

 

In the case of double dwarf signals, 3-aspect type ME signals are used having top and bottom lenses green, and the centre a permanently energised red, the indications being either green over red, or red over green depending on which route is selected.

 

For Dwarf signals reading over more than two routes a special type of combined dwarf signal and route indicator is used having the ME signal type of lens for the signal indication and Box type route indicators consisting of an inner glass having a black background with clear lettering and an outer stippled yellow cover glass, each indication being illuminated with four 110 volt 60 watt lamps.

 

Call On or Warning signals are 2-aspect ME type having a top 6 3/8 in. doublet green lens illuminated with a 110 volt 25 watt rebased lamp and in the bottom indication a stenciled letter "C" or "W" illuminated with 110 volt 60 watt lamps. These signals are fixed beneath, in the case of pole mounted signals, or at the side of, in the case of gantry signals, their respective Main Line Running Signals.

 

All Passenger Running Line route indicators are the Box type having clear cut stenciled letters on a black background and an outer stippled yellow cover glass. Each indication is illuminated with four 110 volt 60 watt lamps.

 

All signal poles are 5 1/2 in. O.D. tubular steel 1/4 in. thick treated with preservative compound inside and supported in cast iron bases fixed to concrete foundations with four I in. x 18 in. foundation bolts. Ladders and guard rings are provided in every case.

 

That's taken from a publication "Power Signalling At Bristol which is reproduced here:

 

Power Signalling At Bristol

 

You might also find this section interesting (though it's a bit of a mess)...

 

Bristol East Signal Box

 

Good luck!

 

Alex

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Thanks for the info. I was hoping that light signals might be a useful alternative for N gauge. Semaphores tend to be either static (and often chunky looking when modelled) or fragile if working.

 

I may have fuond an alternative in the form of the Tomix semaphore though. Although japanese it is based on GWR practive and only requires a bit of paint to make a passable GWR signal from.

 

http://www.osbornsmodels.com/tomix-5541-starter-or-home-semaphore-signal-3701-p.asp

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Thanks for the info. I was hoping that light signals might be a useful alternative for N gauge. Semaphores tend to be either static (and often chunky looking when modelled) or fragile if working.

 

I've been considering how to model these for some time and I'd like to make them working in 2mm Scale. However, some single post signals had up to 8 different lamps to illuminate. For example there was a backing signal (red/green) with 6 options in the stencil indicator. With a 1mm diameter post I don't think it can be done!

 

Alex

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....I may have found an alternative in the form of the Tomix semaphore though. Although japanese it is based on GWR practive and only requires a bit of paint to make a passable GWR signal from.

 

http://www.osbornsmo...gnal-3701-p.asp

 

Forty quid? blink.gif blink.gif blink.gif

 

The design reminds me of the type used on some of China's railways, and also India. Looks very Westinghouse.

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Forty quid? blink.gif blink.gif blink.gif

Yeah, I don't think you would want to signal a large station with them. :blink:

 

However I will only need one or two platform starters so it might be feasible. The annoying thing though is I would prefer it without the chunky track and stuff it is supplied with. :(

 

Perhaps the Ratio signals are the simplest solution.

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Please can someone explain to me the purpose of the two different types of signals in this photo:

 

1. Big round searchlights
 

2. Small vertical 2 aspects

 

I have guessed that 1. is equivalent to a semaphore and 2. to a shunting signal but experts will know better!

 

Thank you in anticipation.

 

Nick

GWR Searchlight 3.jpg

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Exactly so.  The shunting signals varied a bit between the installations of GWR colour lights but basically they all used miniature red and green aspects although they could be arranged in different ways - in some cases vertically (as in the pic posted above) and in some cases horizontally when ground mounted with route indicators.   In meaning they were really no different from the semaphore equivalents.

 

One thing not mentioned previously is that most of the colour light signals on the Engine & Carriage Lines between Paddington and Old Oak Common (some of which pre-dated the Paddington main resignalling) were three lens 3-aspect signals some of whoch could work automatically - a small indicator on the signal post showed an illuminated letter 'A' when the signal was working automatically.  Many of them also had automatic Calling On indicators which were an illuminated copy of a semaphore Calling On arm and some were n mounted on wooden posts complete with finials and cast iron number plates arranged vertically.    All in all some very interesting signals although information about them is very scarce but they represented the largest o installation of multiple aspect colour light signalling on the GWR - all 2 miles of it!   (But they weren't the longest distance application of 3 aspect signalling on the Company as the even more neglected by researchers 3 aspect semaphores on the Ealing & Shepherds Bush Railway was far and away the longest stretch of continuous 3 aspect signalling not only on the GWR but probably for a few years in the early 1920s the longest stretch of continuous multiple aspect signalling in Britain.)

 

To my knowledge there was, for possibly only a few years, another 3 lens 3 aspect colour light on the GWR and that was the one which replaced the well know 3 position semaphore outside Paddngton.  As far as I know (and I'm happy to be further educated) it was the only full range multiple aspect colour light installed by the GWR (the E&C Lines signals were short range with small lenses).

  • Informative/Useful 2

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Thanks that's very helpful in answering my question and the extra info on the 3 aspects is quite fascinating.

 

I have other questions which betray my ignorance of signalling practice in general so perhaps someone can point me to a good textbook on the subject?

 

But essentially does the shunting signal control the same length of track (block?) as its respective semaphore? But I assume in some cases where the semaphore is red the shunting signal shows green to allow a loco to back off its train etc.

 

Thanks again, really appreciate the wealth of knowledge made freely available.

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The shunting signal on GW installations generally was for shunting to a variety of routes but it did vary a bit and could include the main route although normally an equivalent to a Calling On signal would be provided to do that - it depended very much on the signal from which the route applied and what use would be needed for shunt or Calling On purposes.  In this case the Calling On aspects were different from those used on the E&C Line signals between Paddington and Old Oak Common and in some  (if not all) the schemes were basically a white light with a letter 'C' illuminated within the white light. 

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Posted (edited)

There is a tale that when the searchlight style signals were installed at the east end of Cardiff General station, the exhaust blast from 28/42/72xx locos making a standing start 'up the hill' would blow the lights out!  Allegedly the exhaust blast hitting the underside of the gantry's smoke deflector was powerful enough to twist the gantry  ever so slightly, but still enough to deflect the  beam of light so that it appeared to go out.

 

 

Edited by Happy Hippo

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