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North Wales signalboxes Part III
Friday 3rd August 2018


Ten members met at Penmaenmawr and were joined by our Network Rail friend, local Mobile Operations Manager Mark Owen. The box here dates from 1952 and is a modified London Midland Region type 14, gaining unusual (and ugly) small windows in place of the originals in the 1990s. There are 25 levers, one releases Aber ground frame, with seven spare (levers 8-10 are missing). A facing crossover (motor worked) gives access to the stone loading sidings (out of use since 2010). Signals are colour light and most tracks fitted with track circuits or axle counters. Warning lights, treadle operated, indicate the presence of a train in Penyclip tunnel.

We next went to Aber emergency ground frame, near the village of Abergwyngregyn. This has three levers: one is a release lever and the other two control each end of the trailing crossover. It is regularly tested weekly. There is a small cabin with telephone on the opposite side of the line, and the original station building (somewhat modified) is nearby.

After that we headed to Bangor, where the London and North Western Railway type 5 box, dating from 1923, is at the west end between the station and the tunnel. It was formerly Bangor No2 and has 60 levers (with 20 spare) arranged in three groups. Control extends into Anglesey, including the single line over the Britannia Bridge, the next block post being Gaerwen. Because of the constricted space in the cutting, the locking room is reached by an internal staircase and a relay area occupies what was once part of the operating floor (at the west end).

Mark then guided us to each end of the Britannia Bridge, to view the railway level. It was interesting to see that there was room (in principle) to restore the second (Up) track, although the space is partially occupied by two large pipes. Unfortunately owing to mobility problems on a temporary footpath your reporter could not visit the eastern end properly, with its exhibits and other features of interest.


Penmaenmawr Signal Box with the Chester end of the Down platform ramp to the right.
[© Angus McDougall 2018]




Penmaenmawr Signal Box interior.
[© Angus McDougall 2018]


Our last visit was to the gate box at what is usually known as Llanfair, although the station is named Llanfairpwll and the village has a much longer name exhibited on the station building. This is also painted on a board on the side of the box, with the English translation of the several Welsh components of the name. There are four levers, all controlling the road gates (hand worked) and the wickets, on this small Chester & Holyhead structure dating from about 1871. For those of us returning to Llandudno Junction by road our host took us to see the token instrument which is unusually situated in the station building and even more unusually is operated by a member of the station staff, since the signalbox is not well placed for token delivery for the section to Llanrwst.

Our thanks are very much to Mark Owen, who spared no effort in showing us everything of interest, and of course to Barney Clark for making the arrangements, which were admirable. As a result of the visits £204 was raised amongst the participants for Network Rail's nominated charity Barnardo's.


Aber Emergency Crossover Ground Frame (233m 53ch) between Llanfairfechan and Bangor.
[© Angus McDougall 2018]




Bangor Signal Box itself.
[© Angus McDougall 2018]




Britannia Bridge looking towards Anglesey.
[© Angus McDougall 2018]




Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch or Llanfair PG to you!
[© Angus McDougall 2018]




Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch or Llanfair PG to you!
[© Angus McDougall 2018]

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