Box plus loco

Welcome to the Withyham Signal Box

General   The Withyham Signal Box is one of the exhibits in the Museum. Walk through the Museum to the north door. Visitors are able to see the box in operation with the Museum Steward explaining the operation of the levers, bells etc. Scroll down for a taster of what you will see when you visit.


Box Front   Withyham signal box was built for the opening of the line between East Grinstead and Tunbridge Wells in October 1866. It was on the section of single track between Forest Row and Ashurst Junction. Though instigated by a private company the line was operated by the London Brighton & South Coast Railway from the start. Its main purpose was to control the level crossing and allow trains to access the small goods yard. The box remained in use until the line was closed under the Beeching Cuts in January 1967. Long standing Bluebell member John Whiting purchased the complete box from the demolition contractor for £2.50 and moved the box to his garden where it stayed for over 40 years. When the Museum opened in 2012 John donated the box to be used as an exhibit.


Box Interior   The view the signalman gets from inside the box. The levers are colour coded by their use.

Brown - Crossing gate locking
Red - Stop signals
Green - Distant signals
Black - Point
Blue - Point Lock

The signalman uses the cloth to protect the levers from sweaty hands.


Box Plunger   The levers and equipment on the shelf are roughly divided into two halves. The left hand side is used for trains travelling from Forest Row to Ashurst Junction (left to right in front of the box). The right hand side for the opposite direction. The bell would advise the signalman that a train had left Forest Row and the plunger would be used to confirm receipt of the bell message. The indicator shows the state of the distant signal.


Gate Wheel   The stove is provided to keep the signalman warm and provide him a way of making tea. The wheel is NOT from Withyham box but would have been used on a larger box to open and close the Crossing Gates. At Withyham the signalman left the box and opened & closed the gates by hand.


Staff   Staff AJ Staff FR

The line between Forest Row and Ashurst Junction was single with no passing loops. To travel on the line the driver must obtain a single line staff from the signalman at either Forest Row or Ashurst Junction. This allowed his train, and only his train, to be on the line at any one time.

If the train needed to enter the Goods Yard the driver had to give the staff to the signalman so he could unlock and operate the point into the yard. The picture shows the staff locked into the frame.

The pictures above show the plates on the staff. Staffs are also colour coded either red, blue or yellow. No two adjoining sections were the same colour.


Indicator   The stop signals are within sight of the signalman so he can see that they operated correctly. The distant signals, repeaters to show drivers the state of the next stop signal, could be well out of sight. An indicator on the shelf connected to the distant signal shows the current state of the signal so the signalman can confirm it is working correctly. The picture shows the indicator in the off or clear position.

For demonstration purposes the indicator has been made to function correctly with the lever position.