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Resignalling Central Croydon from the 1860's (initially just sanity checking signal layout)


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Good afternoon all,

 

I'm pushing forward with a layout plan based on Central Croydon of 1868-1890, but forward dated to 1985ish. I am thinking of West Croydon as an example of a station which may have retained semaphore signalling until fairly late, but I'm not wedded to it. I'm not yet worried about numbering point levers or interlocking, just sanity checking the signal layout!

 

Information is very scarce indeed on the track layout, let alone the signalling - but I have found a sketch which appears to represent a plan between 1886 and 1890. I have redrawn this diagram including the signals indicated and have attached this below with some numbers for easy reference. My proposed model railway layout boundary is initially on the dotted line:

image.png.b5eb8b1fb74e52ce7265fbe94d5ea264.png

Signal Diagram, unknown date - circa 1886-1890

 

For context, one of the few plans showing the track arrangement is included here - it was in the same information bundle as the signalling diagram, but there are some discrepancies. For the sake of argument, I am going to defer to the layout in the diagram above, as it accurately represents what I'm building on my layout!

 

 

image.png.505e935487353b6e9e1736b7221ff32b.png

Track Layout, unknown date - circa 1871-1886

 

Here's an OS Map from 1913 which shows the approach trackwork in-situ although by this time the station has been razed entirely:

 

image.png.a5e59cb24c15d621756ecbfc86734b70.png

OS Map 1913

 

Signals

1. Outer Home

2. Platform 1 Home

3. Platform 2 Home

3. Platform 1 starter because I'm an idiot - clearly meant to be a different number!!

4. Platform 2 Starter

10. Yellow shunt signal from P1 headshunt into P1 runaround.

11. Shunt signal from P1 runaround onto running line

12. Shunt signal from P2 runaround onto running line

13. Yellow shunt signal from P2 headshunt into P2 runaround.

14. Shunt signal from Up line to platforms/runarounds

15. Shunt signal from Down line to platforms/runarounds

16. FPL for both of these facing crossovers?

20. ???

21. Wrong line running across crossover in the middle of the approach lines??

22. Wrong line running to the Turntable siding??

 

Questions

  • 10, 13 - I don't really understand how yellow shunt signals would work here i.e. which route indication/etc. ?
  • 11, 12, 14 and 15 have no route indication, I assume they would be done under supervision / hand signals?
  • I have no idea what is implied by 20, and I have made some guesses on 21 and 22 based on the 1913 OS Grid Map. I have reproduced their location and the fact they are 'white'. What would they be?
  • There appears to be no signal to control access to/from the siding behind the signal box.  A FPL is specifically indiciated on the two passenger crossovers, but not on this route!
  • There are platform starters, but no block signals beyond them - does this mean that every shunt movement on the up would require a bell code to the next box (which was located between the main line tracks at the top-right of the plan above) ?
  • Would we have seen a lock-and-block system based on platform treadles as per Caterham?
Edited by Lacathedrale
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If it still existed Croydon Central in 1985 would have recently have had its second generation of colour-light signalling installed and almost certainly the run-round loops would have gone (although I suppose stabling sidings might have been retained*). First generation colour-light signalling would have been installed c1953, probably controlled from East Croydon box although Croydon Central again might have had its own, but at least one run-round loop would have been retained for parcels traffic (which would probably have been an important user of the station).

 

It is rather ironic that most RMweb forum posts are about colour-light signalling installations at dates which are far too early for the suggested fictitious location to have been considered for them, whereas here you are asking about semaphore signalling at a date several decades after colour-light signalling would undoubtedly have been installed!

 

Incidentally, your London-end siding with facing access is extremely unlikely (although not totally impossible, particularly with a mid-1980s new installation), historically nobody liked unnecessary facing connections.

 

* They were originally stabling sidings, not run round loops, and I rather doubt whether the one on the departure (north) side ever was a run round loop.

Edited by bécasse
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Though it's not directly related to the signalling I do enjoy a bit of context to discussion, @bécasse ! Here's the link to my thead:

The facing siding seems unusual but is supported by both the 1871-86 plan and the 1913 OS Map. When the station was filled in the stub of up line left of the dotted line became the headshunt of a runaround for the engineer's yard. I'm not planning to model right of the dotted line at this point but could form a nice scenic extension in due course. I particularly like the idea of a disused gravel working alongside a moribund engineer's depot! Ultimately I would prefer to keep it in as a nod to the original layout

 

It's also funny you mention parcels traffic, as it has become the raison d'etre. My hazy supposition is that the major sorting office was built adjacent to Katharine St. and GPO siding/conveyors/etc. were installed here rather than at East Croydon. I am also imagining the continuation of the pre-grouping cross-regional services that the real station saw by running at least the Willesden and Kensington trains from the Midland region. With the major help of @C126 I have the train headcodes for all of these services, and timetabled news, mail and parcels services for my broad era and I'm quite comfortable with the realism compromises to achieve that.

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The London Railway Record magazine, in its issue No. 25, had an article by J E Connor which included a sketch of the station and approaches as of 1886. Although some doubts have been cast as to its accuracy, to my mind the additional complexity, when compared with the first sketch, makes for a more functional and effective layout, particularly if the crossover at the throat were a single or double slip.

1922273854_LRRplan.jpg.eb1873b5dcdb68be167c79d9bcd0080c.jpg

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Wow @Nick Holliday - thank you for that! I can see how the diamond at the end of the platforms may have either been missed or added by a smudge line.

 

It is also present on the Brighton Circular sketch from which I based the signalling drawing at the start of the thread:

 

image.png.562d11d870b9e3dff3cf9c4fd8b3863a.png

This arrangement of the runaround tracks as pictured above and in your post does appear to be quite odd. At first glance I would assume it provides a way for an arriving locomotive to quickly detach from an inbound train, cross to the head of the other platform and couple to an outbound train, like a pseudo Jazz service. Replacing the diamond with a double-slip would mean locomotives could runaround their own train - but if there were a double slip to support this, why the bizarre connection to the opposite platform? Any other suggestions on a postcard gladly appreciated!

 

Other than these two drawings (I assume one based on the other) I can find nothing at all to support the double scissors in the throat or the diamond for access to the opposite runaround. That's not to say it didn't happen - but definitely on the hair-brained side of Victorian design!  There is solid evidence for the trailing crossover under Park Lane in the OS Maps of the original station (pictured above) and the facing crossover in the 1913 OS Map a little further down the line.

 

i really would love nothing more than to continue to talk about Central Croydon's track layout, can we continue it in the layout thread and leave this one to determine the signals of the plan mentioned in the OP? I'm so sorry if that comes across as rude - I'm very aware I've posted a fair few threads regarding this layout, the history and signalling thereof and I'm aware that it interests few!

 

 

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13 hours ago, bécasse said:

whereas here you are asking about semaphore signalling at a date several decades after colour-light signalling would undoubtedly have been installed!


Do you think it’s as ‘hard and fast’ as that?

 

There were semaphore sections interfacing with the main-line colour-light signalling at multiple places in that area. So, while ‘tidying up’ Central Croydon and putting it onto East Croydon box would be logical, don’t you think that a cheese-paring solution, retaining a traditional ‘box and semaphores there might just be within the bounds of the plausible?

 

LaCathedrale

 

Reminded myself yesterday that there were three signal boxes in Croydon: West Croydon had A (up on a girder structure) and B (a downtrodden wooden shack under the bridge at the southern end of the station).

 

 

Edited by Nearholmer
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I would have thought the engine release crossovers would be hand-worked by the loco crew and the disc would therefore be unnecessary?

 

I assume signal 21 is shown in white because we see its back as drawn?

20 & 22 appear to indicate that the signal concerned is slotted with the next box along the line (both boxes have to pull their levers to clear the arm), but that is a drawing convention that I doubt would have been used in 1886 - perhaps something to do with a more recent magazine article which seems to be the source of the information.

 

I agree that the diamond is very odd.  Also I don't see the need for two middle roads.  If they were used solely for running round, a single one would suffice.  However in the 1800s, albeit more in the earlier Victorian period, if there was an overall train shed roof middle roads were often used for stabling stock.  Trains were not normally fixed formation but extra carriages, horses boxes etc would be added on instructions of the stationmaster, and the middle road was thus handy if a traffic demand suddenly arose, and an overall roof provided weather protection.   

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@Michael Hodgson I can see hand levers for the release crossovers and no signals in this photo:

 

image.png.537989327c733cff35850295917670af.png

Central Croydon, likely 1868-71?

 

I am coming to the conclusion that in the first period of the station's operation the throat consisted of trailing and facing crossovers. The siding that would become the gravel pit runaround is not connected to the throat. There are no signal boxes indicated on either diagram or map.

 

At some point between then and 1890 we had the addition of the facing connection to the gravel pit runaround , the re-laying of the crossovers to a double scissors, the ground signals, and the construction of the signal box.

 

I'm afraid I don't really understand what you mean about the signals being slotted. I do assume that they're white because they're for wrong way running i.e. a bidirectional line but I don't know what the significance of the diagonal is?

 

I don't think the diagram is contemporary, I think it's trying to use modern signalling parlance to indicate what we'd see.

Edited by Lacathedrale
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1 hour ago, Nearholmer said:


Reminded myself yesterday that there were three signal boxes in Croydon: West Croydon had A (up on a girder structure) and B (a downtrodden wooden shack under the bridge at the southern end of the station).

 

 

See: 

 

 

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33 minutes ago, Lacathedrale said:

I'm afraid I don't really understand what you mean about the signals being slotted. I do assume that they're white because they're for wrong way running i.e. a bidirectional line but I don't know what the significance of the diagonal is?

 

You can't assume wrong line running.  A signal is drawn in the outline it actually presents [but folded lying flat on its back] - so if a gantry or a post has another arm(s) facing the other way, those arms point to the right and are drawn as white (what you would actually see).  Standard practice for many years has been for the signal to be on the left of approaching trains wherever possible, but historical practice even on double track was to put arms for both lines on one post to save money.   In this case I take 21/22 (which are the same arm) to apply to the Up line, not wrong line running on the Down.  Bi-directional running was practically unheard of in the Victorian era - except obviously on single track lines.

 

By convention where two boxes control a signal, the arm is shown in solid in its normal position, and a hollow diagonal version of the Arm in the off position indicates that another box has a handle on its operation.  In the rare cases that two other boxes have to pull a lever (sometimes for distant signals) the convention shows it with two hollow lowered arms

 

This convention is generally used by the Signal Record Society, John Hinson's drawings on Signalbox.org and in a lot of recent books on signalling.  I'm pretty sure it's also in BS376 too.  The unshaded arm representing the slot will be in the upper or lower quadrant according to which type of signal it is, but the solid arm is horizontal (except in the very rare cases of signals whose normal position was off)

Edited by Michael Hodgson
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1 minute ago, Michael Hodgson said:

You can't assume wrong line running.  A signal is drawn in the outline it actually presents [but folded lying flat on its back] - so if a gantry or a post has another arm(s) facing the other way, those arms point to the right and are drawn as white (what you would actually see).  Standard practice for many years has been for the signal to be on the left of approaching trains wherever possible, but historical practice even on double track was to put arms for both lines on one post to save money.   In this case I take 21/22 (which are the same arm) to apply to the Up line, not wrong line running on the Down.  Bi-directional running was practically unheard of in the Victorian era - except obviously on single track lines.

 

By convention where two boxes control a signal, the arm is shown in solid in its normal position, and a hollow diagonal version of the Arm in the off position indicates that another box has a handle on its operation.  In the rare cases that two other boxes have to pull a lever (sometimes for distant signals) the convention shows it with two hollow lowered arms

 

This convention is generally used by the Signal Record Society, John Hinson's drawings on Signalbox.org and in a lot of recent books on signalling.  I'm pretty sure it's also in BS376 too.  The unshaded arm representing the slot will be in the upper or lower quadrant according to which type of signal it is, but the solid arm is horizontal (except in the very rare cases of signals whose normal position was off)

 

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@Nick Holliday has posted in the Brighton Circle groups.io chat about this that in 1896 the London Railway Record notes that upon reopening the station was "provided with modern signal arrangements and raised platforms etc. A new signal cabin has been erected containing 40 levers, of which 14 are at present spare."

 

So I think we can conclusively say that there are two periods illustrated between these various plans.

 

@Michael Hodgson so  in this case 22 isn't a real signal, rather it represents 21 (the advanced starter) for the up line and is slotted with the East Croydon South box. What does 20 imply, then? Why would the outer home need to be slotted too?

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2 hours ago, Nearholmer said:


Do you think it’s as ‘hard and fast’ as that?

 

There were semaphore sections interfacing with the main-line colour-light signalling at multiple places in that area. So, while ‘tidying up’ Central Croydon and putting it onto East Croydon box would be logical, don’t you think that a cheese-paring solution, retaining a traditional ‘box and semaphores there might just be within the bounds of the plausible?

 

Yes, I do think that it would have been as hard and fast as that simply because it was a (very) short terminal stub, had it lead somewhere (cf. West Croydon) semaphore signalling would have been retained. Even without considering the ongoing manning costs of a Croydon Central box (even single-manned you would have needed at least three posts), the capital cost of installing equipment to interface between the two (c/l East Croydon, semaphore Croydon Central) boxes would probably have been greater than the cost of installing c/l signals (and point motors, although they might well have been installed even with semaphore signalling, while track circuits would have been required to work TCB anyway). (If the line had led somewhere, the interface would have been required anyway either before or after Croydon Central so its cost wouldn't have been an issue.) The Croydon Central situation wouldn't have been very different to that of the Coulsdon North terminal platforms which were, of course, included in the scheme.

 

Incidentally, I doubt whether it would have been much different if Croydon Central had been retained just as a parcels terminal (i.e. not available for passenger trains) although the terminal throat itself would probably have been worked by hand levers, perhaps concentrated in a shunting cabin, perhaps not, with just the reception and departure roads being track-circuited and having subsidiary c/l signals governing access from and to the main running lines (cf. Lovers Walk, Brighton, although that was a twenty year older scheme, of course).

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47 minutes ago, Lacathedrale said:

 

@Michael Hodgson so  in this case 22 isn't a real signal, rather it represents 21 (the advanced starter) for the up line and is slotted with the East Croydon South box. What does 20 imply, then? Why would the outer home need to be slotted too?

Yes 22 would be the Home or Outer Home at East Croydon SOuth.  The lever numbers in the two boxes would be unrelated (and might conceivably coincide).  Box diagrams would only show the number relevant to the respective boxes.

 

The Outer Home 20 would also act as South box's Starter (or Advanced Starter). 

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24 minutes ago, bécasse said:

Yes, I do think that it would have been as hard and fast as that


I kinda thought you’d say that - I was merely fishing for a good excuse for semaphores, even a poor excuse!

 

 

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19 hours ago, bécasse said:

Yes, I do think that it would have been as hard and fast as that simply because it was a (very) short terminal stub

I appreciate the ‘very short terminal stub’ caveat, but the 1967 Paisley resignalling excluded Gourock (the terminal station), so it was not unknown to keep semaphore control adjacent to colour light concentration schemes.

In that respect, a largely parcels operation (lots of shunting) but retaining some passenger services (so can’t reduce to hand points) strengthens the case for retaining a separate box as controlling shunting movements from afar is more difficult.

The slotted signals are less simple and may well ‘need’ to be colour light, although ‘slotting’ a semaphore is not unknown.

Paul.

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21 hours ago, Lacathedrale said:

I can see hand levers for the release crossovers and no signals in this photo:

 

image.png.537989327c733cff35850295917670af.png

Central Croydon, likely 1868-71?

That’s an interesting photo!

Comparing the length of the point to the length of the spur it’s for very short locos.  For your purposes, I think you will need to assume (Rule 1 if required) that the points were relayed further from the buffers at some point.

The ‘hand levers’ are ground frames to operate the points, I can’t make out if they are fitted with FPLs, (thus FPL and Points for the two levers) or not (in which case Release lever and points).  No need for signals as the GF operator gives instruction to the driver verbally.

I think there are four rods beside the platform which could be a mechanical release from the box rather than electrical. (One each for the drive to the other end of the crossovers and one each for the release from the box.)

Paul.

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On 26/08/2021 at 15:55, Lacathedrale said:

I'm not yet worried about numbering point levers or interlocking, just sanity checking the signal layout!

 

Information is very scarce indeed on the track layout, let alone the signalling - but I have found a sketch which appears to represent a plan between 1886 and 1890. I have redrawn this diagram including the signals indicated and have attached this below with some numbers for easy reference. My proposed model railway layout boundary is initially on the dotted line:

image.png.b5eb8b1fb74e52ce7265fbe94d5ea264.png

Signal Diagram, unknown date - circa 1886-1890

 

Signals

 

1. Outer Home

2. Platform 1 Home

3. Platform 2 Home

3. Platform 1 starter because I'm an idiot - clearly meant to be a different number!!

4. Platform 2 Starter

10. Yellow shunt signal from P1 headshunt into P1 runaround.

11. Shunt signal from P1 runaround onto running line

12. Shunt signal from P2 runaround onto running line

13. Yellow shunt signal from P2 headshunt into P2 runaround.

14. Shunt signal from Up line to platforms/runarounds

15. Shunt signal from Down line to platforms/runarounds

16. FPL for both of these facing crossovers?

20. ???

21. Wrong line running across crossover in the middle of the approach lines??

22. Wrong line running to the Turntable siding??

 

Questions

  • 10, 13 - I don't really understand how yellow shunt signals would work here i.e. which route indication/etc. ?
  • 11, 12, 14 and 15 have no route indication, I assume they would be done under supervision / hand signals?
  • I have no idea what is implied by 20, and I have made some guesses on 21 and 22 based on the 1913 OS Grid Map. I have reproduced their location and the fact they are 'white'. What would they be?
  • There appears to be no signal to control access to/from the siding behind the signal box.  A FPL is specifically indiciated on the two passenger crossovers, but not on this route!
  • There are platform starters, but no block signals beyond them - does this mean that every shunt movement on the up would require a bell code to the next box (which was located between the main line tracks at the top-right of the plan above) ?
  • Would we have seen a lock-and-block system based on platform treadles as per Caterham?

Going right back to the beginning!  I was rather confused by the signalling shown and was going to suggest radical alterations until I saw your diagrams later which have helped.

 

10, 13: they may be yellow shunt signals, or they may just be red with white light as per GWR practice.  Either way, they show when it is clear to proceed into the run round loop.  If the incoming train is removed by a fresh loco then the train loco can proceed back down the platform when the signal is On.  There would be instructions about following out the train or contacting the box before moving up the platform.


FPLs: logically, there would need to be FPLs on both ends of the main to main crossovers, the siding connection and the outer end of the platform/run round points.  I don’t quite understand what the note on the later diagram is trying to say!

 

The diagram does seem to be lacking signals to/from the siding connection, and it seems a bit close to be GF worked.  Could it have been some form of emergency access so rarely used and therefore by instruction?

 

Platform Starting, no block signal, 20/21: Michael has largely answered this, but to confirm.  20 is the Advanced Starting for the Up line as far as Croydon Central is concerned, it is also the Up (Outer?) Home for East Croydon South Jn.  The arm will only clear to Off when both levers have been pulled.

This arrangement is relatively common with absolute block working as it allows two different signal boxes to apply their bit of the rules to the same signal.

The important thing for you is that it allows shunting up to it without reference to EC South.

 

11, 12, 14, 15: I wonder if these are just representational and were actually multiple discs, but even if not the meaning is go as far as the line is clear.  There would need to be close cooperation between driver (or shunter) and signalman to operate this layout, so in effect, it is just an indication that the route requested has been set and is safe to go.

 

At first, I was unhappy with signal 15, but the diagrams you added later have convinced me that it was there.  My ‘current day’ signalling wants a Limit of Shunt on the Down line, but I don’t know how ‘required’ they were that long ago.

 

Paul.

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52 minutes ago, 5BarVT said:

 

I think there are four rods beside the platform which could be a mechanical release from the box rather than electrical. (One each for the drive to the other end of the crossovers and one each for the release from the box.)

Paul.

You wouldn't expect electrical releases that early

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20 hours ago, bécasse said:

Even without considering the ongoing manning costs of a Croydon Central box (even single-manned you would have needed at least three posts), the capital cost of installing equipment to interface between the two (c/l East Croydon, semaphore Croydon Central) boxes would probably have been greater than the cost of installing c/l signals (and point motors, although they might well have been installed even with semaphore signalling, while track circuits would have been required to work TCB anyway). (If the line had led somewhere, the interface would have been required anyway either before or after Croydon Central so its cost wouldn't have been an issue.)

Please may I differ.  Even if only for Rule 1 purposes!

Very little alteration at Croydon Central would be needed to interface to the main line colour light signalling:

Track circuits from 21 on the Up line and slot on semaphore replaced by an electric lever lock released from EC.  Track circuits to 2/3 on Down line with slot removed as track circuits do the job.

Down line could possibly have 1 replaced by a colour light with delayed yellow control up to 2/3 On but not a necessity.

So really quite cheap.

This would require provision of  a LoS on the Down, to prevent shunt moves occupying the line between 1 and 2/3 to keep the free acceptance from EC up to 1.

There may also need to be some provision for shunting out beyond 20 when shunting cans rather than just running round.  I’m think that the magazine train describes of the time could take account of that if planned. (Possibly the most expensive bit of the interface!)

Paul

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4 minutes ago, 5BarVT said:

Please may I differ.  Even if only for Rule 1 purposes!

Very little alteration at Croydon Central would be needed to interface to the main line colour light signalling:

Track circuits from 21 on the Up line and slot on semaphore replaced by an electric lever lock released from EC.  Track circuits to 2/3 on Down line with slot removed as track circuits do the job.

Down line could possibly have 1 replaced by a colour light with delayed yellow control up to 2/3 On but not a necessity.

So really quite cheap.

This would require provision of  a LoS on the Down, to prevent shunt moves occupying the line between 1 and 2/3 to keep the free acceptance from EC up to 1.

There may also need to be some provision for shunting out beyond 20 when shunting cans rather than just running round.  I’m think that the magazine train describes of the time could take account of that if planned. (Possibly the most expensive bit of the interface!)

Paul

I think that you have forgotten the quite minor matter of distant signals. Both platform starting signals at a Croydon Central with a separate semaphore box would require colour light distants below the stop arms so might as well be full colour light signals, and, as regards the home, while it was obviously commonplace for semaphore homes to follow on from multiple aspect signalling (which provided their distant), doing so for one signal would not only be considered poor practice but would probably prove unacceptable to the (powerful) ASLEF reps on the sighting committee.

 

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As already noted, the Croydon area, which had first been MAS-ed in 1955, then had a further resignalling in the early-80s under BLRS - Brighton Line Resignalling Scheme. Had a branch to Central Croydon been extant, it might have placed an additional load on the panel operator, who presumably also looks after the former Gloucester Road/Windmill Bridge complex, and Gloucester Road box, like East Croydon, was double-manned round the clock from the 1955 resignalling. Since resignalling schemes inevitably look for staff-cost savings to help justify investment, the additional load on the BL signaller (actually at Three Bridges), might have been significant. 

 

Thus the level of service at Central Croydon, and its complexity, might have been a major consideration in the decision to provide MAS. If the service were more or less an in-and-out bounceback, a la Bromley North, full automation might have been considered. Had a more complex service pattern been required in the peak, when every other route also has the same augmented service level, decisions might have had to be taken. 

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Hi

A very interesting thread about a station that I have an interest in too.

 

There is in The National Archives at Kew the Board of Trade file for inspecting the signalling at this station. It indicates that it was a reopening of previous facilities. The file details are: MT6/417/17 Central Croydon LB&SCR 1885-1886. The file also includes a signalling plan provided by the LBSCR but does not have lever numbering (the LBSCR tended not to at this time) but is still of great interest. I photographed the plan and the file and if of interest will post it here. (I need to post it from the laptop rather than the phone am currently banging away at.) 

 

The TNA has much of interest for modellers seeking places to model or be inspired by, I would recommend a visit if that is your thing.

 

Another interesting station is Greenwich Park which I have also photted the MT 6 file and additionally have photos of the diagram and frame and a drawing of the layout. Another interesting station.

Edited by Natalie
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