WEST MIDLANDS SIGNALLING
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A recent visit to Birmingham brought back distant memories. Travelling between Birkenhead Woodside and Paddington, my first experience of the city was the busy Snow Hill station.
Although power signalling had been around for more than 60 years, mechanical installations reigned supreme. For example, on the ex-Great Western Railway main line between Wolverhampton Low Level and Leamington Spa, there were 37 signal boxes (SBs).
In the Birmingham area, the only power signal box (PSB) controlled Snow Hill station. Commissioned in 1960, it replaced Birmingham North and South SBs. The Western Region (WR) perpetuated the GWR tradition and named the new ‘panel’ box Birmingham - no mention of the station it supervised!
In 1963 British Rail made radical changes to the organisation of the Birmingham area. All routes previously controlled by the WR were transferred to the London Midland Region (LMR), and all passenger services were gradually concentrated on Birmingham New Street station.
By the time Snow Hill closed in 1972, it had been reduced to an unstaffed halt with a handful of local services to Langley Green and Wolverhampton Low Level. As such, the PSB at Snow Hill was only in service for 12 years, many of them supervising a much rationalised layout.
The oldest of the Birmingham SBs is Tyseley No.1, which ironically looks as if it could outlive all the others!
Tyseley Loco Shed SB (as it was then known) was not the first SB commissioned by the newly nationalised BR (that honour probably belonged to Liverpool Lime Street SB), but in all likelihood it was the first SB opened by the Western Region!
Tyseley No.1 is responsible for movements around Tyseley depot, as well as interfacing with West Midlands Signalling Centre (WMSC).
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