Railway signal box, 1891, by and for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, adjacent to the Grade II listed Hebden Bridge Railway Station.
Reason for Listing
Hebden Bridge Signal Box is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Representative: as a good surviving example of a standard L&YR signal box;
* Fittings: for the retention of its L&YR name board as well as internal fittings including its original lever frame;
* Group Value: enhances the interest of the immediately adjacent and contemporary Grade II listed station.
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.
Hebden Bridge signal box was built in 1891, just before the reconstruction of the adjacent railway station in 1892-3. It was the third signal box on the site and was originally known as Hebden Bridge East to distinguish it from Hebden Bridge West (which controlled the goods yard but was decommissioned in 1934). The signal box was prefabricated at the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway's works at Horwich to the company's own design, being almost identical to those built for the L&YR between 1883 and 1889 by the signalling contractors the Railway Signalling Company. In 1905 the interlocking of the original 36 lever frame was modified to accommodate a new pair of loop lines between Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd. Possibly at the same time, two additional levers were added. In 1973 the lines to the west of the station were passed to the control of Preston Power Signal Box with Hebden Bridge becoming a fringe box. Some time between 2006 and 2008 the signal box was refurbished with uPVC windows imitating the original pattern of glazing bars, a steel flight of steps replacing the original timber staircase and the addition of a small projecting extension to the operating room to provide a toilet.
Hebden Bridge signal box is sited just east of Hebden Bridge Station on the southern side of the railway line, opposite the eastern end of platform two on the north side of the line. The station is listed at Grade II (NHLE 1229843).
MATERIALS: brick laid in English Garden Wall bond, timber weather-boarding, Welsh slate roof.
EXTERIOR: two-storey signal box with a brick ground floor, horizontally boarded upper floor and a gabled roof. The first-floor operating room has continuous glazing to the north (facing the tracks) and to the front half of the gable ends. The windows are uPVC but imitate the original arrangement of glazing bars, appearing as 10 sashes, split by heavier mullions into a 3 - 4 - 3 arrangement, with each sash divided into four panes. Directly below the sashes is a continuous run of 20 panes. This glazing pattern is carried around the front half of the gable ends. High in each gable there is a separate four-pane window, the oversailing roof finished with plain bargeboards topped with a spear-point finials. The door to the operating room is central to the east gable, reached by a modern flight of steel steps. To its left, there is a small timber-clad projection which is a modern addition to provide a toilet.
The ground floor has a simple plinth and three segmentally-arched windows facing the tracks with a fourth to the west end. The similarly arched doorway is to the east gable. Set above the ground-floor front windows is a L&YR name board reading 'Hebden Bridge'.
INTERIOR: the signal box retains its original L&YR lever frame of 36 levers together with the two levers added after 1905. It also retains a three-position Absolute Block Instrument and a Block Bell, both of L&YR vintage.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.