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GCR Swithland - A Tribute

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by sche, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. Tomnick

    Tomnick New Member

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    You're welcome :) .
     
  2. 46118

    46118 New Member

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    Just out of interest, is there another ex-GC 'box and frame either "in stock" or earmarked with Network Rail for eventual use at Leicester North? I ask given the relentless progress of abolition of manual signal boxes. Maybe there are still GC boxes around in Lincolnshire?
    Some Heritage lines such as the Glos-Warks have elected to build the box structures from new, but presumably they still had original lever frames to build into the boxes.

    Superb installation by the way, and maybe the GC can find a way of having a "public enclosure" somewhere at the lineside for photographers and enthusiasts generally, without actually intruding onto the overall "scene"? ( could earn revenue for you....)

    There is something quite special hearing block bells and the lever frame in use in the distance.

    46118
     
  3. Tomnick

    Tomnick New Member

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    I can't speak for the S&T regarding the existance or otherwise of a suitable structure for Leicester North, but I will suggest that any such structure would need to be quite heavily vandal-proofed - so something along the lines of Hotchley Hill SB might be more appropriate (perhaps with a small power installation rather than mechanical - all worthy of preservation and relevant to the GC!). My personal view is that I'd not be too keen on going to Leicester North to work a late turn*, as I'd be concerned about the safety of my car and (to a lesser extent) myself - and I do know that a good few of my colleagues feel the same. I'm sure the S&T equipment would be at risk of receiving similar attention! I know it'd be a significant compromise, but I (personally, again) think it'd be worth looking at sensible (and fitting) ways of adding any (power) installation at Leicester onto Rothley SB.

    Again my personal view - I think regular access to the public would be difficult to achieve, given the lack of off-site car parking and the need to keep the yard secure. I'm sure, in the future, the railway will be able to arrange some sort of managed access to the site on a limited number of days, perhaps at special events. Any more than that and they'd have to open a catering outlet there ;) .
     
  4. Flipper

    Flipper New Member

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    No, there is no box, or frame, currently earmarked for use at Belgrave & Birstall. There would be no point doing so until we know what layout we will ultimately be required to signal (as-is, double track terminus, double track to single line through station, &c.) as this will determine the location and size of the structure.

    As the supply of boxes dries up, and those that do exist are becoming more and more altered from the original (uPVC cladding, double-glazed windows, steel steps), then the new build path becomes more attractive and practical. It may not be preservation, in the strictist sense, but I do believe that if done well and thoughtfully it is acceptable. After all, railway companies often had to build new boxes, or replace existing boxes as they wore out, and there is no real difference - it's all part and parcel of running a railway. Personally, I feel strongly that they should follow appropriate existing designs, and ensure that if modern material is used that it is not visible. We do have quite a number of lever frames "in captivity", but increasingly few sound structures to house them in.

    In the case of Belgrave & Birstall, the area is, regretably, one of fairly high crime - certainly relative to the rest of the line. The nearby "Leicester North" station is constantly being damaged by vandals and thieves, the latter having repeatedly ripped off large sections of roofing and smashed in ceilings in order to gain entry. The fear is that a traditional timber, or part timber, signal box at this location would not last long.

    Current thinking for Belgrave & Birstall is along the lines of erecting a new build LNER ARP type box, similar to that erected in 1946 by the LNER at Hotchley Hill (near Rushcliffe Halt). This type is designed to resist blast damage, being constructed from brick, reinforced concrete, steel and plate-glass, so should resist all but the most determined attacks. The presence of the box at Hotchley Hill means that it is canonical for our part of the London Extension too.

    Regards

    Shawn
     
  5. Black Jim

    Black Jim New Member

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    There is something quite special hearing block bells and the lever frame in use in the distance.

    46118[/QUOTE]
    Hear hear! Takes me right back to my youth! ( Along with the rest of the railway scene of course!)
    All this buisiness about vandalism is terrible for some parts of the country, What are the cops doing these days !! They must know where the trouble spots are. Waste of time!
     
  6. guard_jamie

    guard_jamie New Member

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    If you're after impregnable, how about one of these babies?

    Burghclere Signal Box - Pic Heavy - Derelict Places

    Steps inside, behind a reinforced steel door, brick up the locking room windows, full metal guarding a la high street shop front on the windows that may only be activated from inside, reinforced concrete roof...
     
  7. Flipper

    Flipper New Member

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    At the risk of dragging the thread off-topic . . .

    If Burghclere Box was designed to meet the ARP requirements then there should be little to choose between it and Hotchley Hill in terms of robustness. Hotchley Hill has 15" brick walls, reinforced concrete roof, steel door and window frames, plate glass windows that can easily be wired over, concrete steps, minimal locking room windows, &c. With the external steps it might be prudent to design the door to open outwards, to resist forcing. Otherwise it is pretty impregnable.

    And, perhaps most importantly, it is entirely appropriate for our line, whereas a GWR ARP box would be entirely inappropriate :)

    Plans for Hotchley Hill below, for reference.

    View attachment LNER_ARP_Box.pdf

    Regards

    Shawn
     
  8. guard_jamie

    guard_jamie New Member

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    Just to stay off topic a mite longer...

    I had a look at Hotchley Hill, and whilst I'm sure it's as good against blast as Burghclere, I was coming at it from an anti-vandal perspective. On a GW style ARP box, you only have one door at ground level, no outdoor stairs - and no railings for vandals to swing off - and no means of getting up close to the upper floor windows from the outside, which is a bit of a clincher in my opinion. Also the Hotchley windows have that diagonal at each corner, whereas the GWR ones are simple three sides of a rectangle - easier to cover over with full metal roller shutters (as on Keighley Signal Box, KWVR).

    I fully understand the desire for authenticity however.
     
  9. TonyMay

    TonyMay New Member

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    One of the things the GCR could do to turn down the vandal potential is remove the footcrossing north of the station, perhaps by diverting it over he occupation bridge slightly further to the north. stop the little ****s walking down the track.
     
  10. 46118

    46118 New Member

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    Tomnick/Flipper: Many thanks for your respective responses. Appreciated.

    Perhaps one can hope against hope that with the GC taking over the once-redundant building at Leicester North, and trying to bring a little "civilisation" to the immediate area, that perhaps the vandalism threat moderates a little. Aided I assume by the best the alarm companies can offer.
     
  11. Jamie C. Steel

    Jamie C. Steel New Member

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    It was suggested on another forum and discussed in detail, with the rather large detour it would likely lead to people crossing the line at the site of the old crossing illegally. We would also need to purchase land to divert the footpath as there are a number of back gardens that come right up to the line at that point, and to provide a sufficient footpath would encroach upon them. Very few people actually break in that way, they tend to come in through the golf course and onto the platform that way, or through the fence on the footpath running alongside the station.
     
  12. Flipper

    Flipper New Member

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    Not to mention the £3,000 fee to Charnwood Borough Council and the need for a full planning submission. *If* no objections were received (unlikely, as there are bodies which often seem to object to such proposals on principle) then we would have to obtain landowners permission, and make the necessary purchases to construct the diversionary route, including potentially having to acquire portions of over a dozen gardens which *now* run right up to the top of the cutting (and which may require Compulsory Purchase proceedings and possibly an inquiry), and construct the route. And even after all that expenditure there could still be an appeal to the High Court in the first 6 weeks which still might result in the order not being certified.

    If the submission *is* objected to, then the whole thing goes to the Secretary of State who may call a public inquiry into the diversion, which could take a year. Even if the go ahead is eventually given then you have to tackle the next stages of Compulsory Purchase (and all that entails) and construction, plus the risk of a legal appeal to the high court.

    As Jamie says, the diversion of this crossing has previously been discussed at some length, albeit with a view to removing a public level crossing of the line. I share his sceptism that it would make any material difference to the vandalism / burglary problems at Belgrave & Birstall. The station buildings of "Leicester North" are well over half a mile from the crossing, and there are more than a few points between the two where access can be (and is) gained.
     

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