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Bootle Signal Box, Copeland

Description: Bootle Signal Box

Grade: II
Date Listed: 21 November 2013
Building ID: 1412053

OS Grid Reference: SD0935989318
OS Grid Coordinates: 309359, 489319
Latitude/Longitude: 54.2914, -3.3940

Locality: Copeland
Local Authority: Copeland Borough Council
County: Cumbria
Postcode: LA19 5UY

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Listing Text


Furness Railway Type 1 signal box built 1874.

Reason for Listing

Bootle Signal Box is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Representative: as a rare surviving example of a Furness Railway Type 1 signal box, being the least altered example of the two survivors on the national rail network;
* Historic interest: dated 1874, being one of the earliest surviving signal boxes surviving nationally: the small, utilitarian form of Bootle Signal Box with its low-pitched hipped roof is typical of very early signal box designs such as those built by the firm of Saxby and Farmer.


From the 1840s, huts or cabins were provided for men operating railway signals. These were often located on raised platforms containing levers to operate the signals and in the early 1860s, the fully glazed signal box, initially raised high on stilts to give a good view down the line, emerged. The interlocking of signals and points, perhaps the most important single advance in rail safety, patented by John Saxby in 1856, was the final step in the evolution of railway signalling into a form recognisable today. Signal boxes were built to a great variety of different designs and sizes to meet traffic needs by signalling contractors and the railway companies themselves.

Signal box numbers peaked at around 12,000-13,000 for Great Britain just prior to the First World War and successive economies in working led to large reductions in their numbers from the 1920s onwards. British Railways inherited around 10,000 in 1948 and numbers dwindled rapidly to about 4000 by 1970. In 2012, about 750 remained in use; it was anticipated that most would be rendered redundant over the next decade.

The earliest known signal boxes built for the Furness Railway date to 1871-4. They were designed in-house (now categorised as Furness Railway Type 1), being clearly influenced by the designs of the signalling firm Saxby and Farmer, but utilised equipment supplied by a variety of external signalling contractors. Bootle Signal Box was built in circa 1874 to control the small station, level-crossing and a goods yard, being located on the northern end of the western station platform, adjacent to the Church Lane level-crossing.


Railway signal box, 1874, for the Furness Railway. Furness Railway Type 1 design.

MATERIALS: red sandstone rock-faced ashlar; Welsh slate roof with round ridge tiles to ridge and hips.

EXTERIOR: small, squat signal box of two bays with a low-pitched hipped roof. Raised operating floor accessed via modern external steps to the north side. Front and sides continuously glazed with modern replacement window units with top-lights above. The projecting chimney stack to the centre of the rear has been truncated to just above eaves height.

INTERIOR: the signal box retains a London Midland Region lever frame of 15 levers installed in 1977.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.