Signal box, 1886 for the London Brighton & South Coast Railway on the Littlehampton Branch Line. C20 extension not of special interest.
Reason for Listing
Littlehampton Signal Box, an example of the London Brighton & South Coast Railway Type 2 design, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Intactness: it survives substantially intact with the original operating room windows and eaves valancing. The locking room openings were later blocked and the staircase was later boarded over but it survives intact beneath;
* Survival of operating equipment: the operating room retains a 1901 LB&SCR Bosham Pattern Lever Frame and the locking room has a locking frame with bars and locking trays;
* Rarity: this is the only London Brighton & South Coast railway Type 2 signal box to survive with valancing, matching that used on their railway stations, a feature only rarely used on signal boxes.
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 4,000 by 1970. In 2012, about 750 remained in use; it is anticipated that most will be rendered redundant over the next decade.
Littlehampton Signal Box was built in 1886 for the London Brighton & South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) and replaced an 1863 Saxby and Farmer signal box. It is a example of the LB&SCR Type 2 and is on the Littlehampton Branch Line.
The London Brighton & South Coast Railway employed Saxby & Farmer designs exclusively for its signal boxes until the 1880s, but from then built an increasing number of signal boxes to its own designs. The LB&SCR Type 2 appeared around 1880 and continued to be built until 1896. The design derived from the Saxby & Farmer Type 5 with hipped roofs and broadly similar proportions. However, the most noticeable differences were the absence of the characteristic toplights above the windows with plain boarding substituted in its place, a different eaves bracket and on some boxes, elaborate valancing at eaves level of a type found in contemporary LB&SCR stations. The LB&SCR built some Type 2 boxes with valancing and some without.
Littlehampton Signal Box is the only example of the three LB&SCR Type 2 signal boxes remaining to retain the valancing. Its frame was replaced by a Bosham Pattern LB&SCR lever frame in 1901. Subsequent changes have included a small toilet extension to the operating room and the boarding in of the wooden steps.
DATE: built in 1886, a London Brighton & South Coast Railway Type 2 signal box. C20 rear lean-to extension and toilet (not of special interest).
MATERIALS: built of brown brick in Flemish bond with hipped slate roof.
PLAN: two storeys, three bays long and two bays wide.
EXTERIOR: the locking room has two cambered openings in the front or south-west front which were later filled-in and a door with four flush panels on the north-west side. The operating room retains the fretted eaves valance supported on fretted wooden eaves brackets and sliding four-pane casement windows with later secondary glazing behind. An iron access balcony remains on the south-east side. Entrance to the operating room is by a wooden staircase on the north-west side which has later been boarded over. C20 toilet extension on the north-west side and the north-east side has a lean-to extension in stretcher bond brick (neither of special interest).
INTERIOR: the operating room retains a 1901 Bosham Pattern LB&SCR lever frame with 44 levers, an emergency bell signal and track indicator. The locking room has a locking frame with bars and locking trays.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.