Signal box, 1870s, for the South Eastern Railway Company on the Maidstone and Strood Railway (now known as the Medway Valley Line). A mid-C20 extension and panel of 2005 are not of special interest.
Reason for Listing
Snodland Signal Box, designed by the South Eastern Railway Company and dating from the 1870s, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Intactness: it retains the original windows and iron access balcony although a lengthy extension has been built later on one side;
* Survival of operating equipment: although the lever frame has been removed it retains a number of original block instruments;
* Group Value: strong group value with Snodland Station (Grade II) and Church of All Saints (Grade I).
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 is anticipated that most would be rendered redundant over the next decade.
Snodland Signal Box is believed to have been built in the 1870s for the South Eastern Railway Company and designed by the company. It was built on the Maidstone and Strood Railway (now known as the Medway Valley Line). The design was introduced in the early 1870s and examples continued to be built until the First World War. It is not shown on the First Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1871 but appears on the Second Edition map of 1896. Subsequent changes to the box include a lengthy extension at the north end (of unknown date but possibly post-war) to enable the signalman to supervise the adjacent level crossing more closely and the replacement of the lever frame with a panel in 2005.
DATE: probably built in the 1870s designed by and for the South Eastern Railway Company.
MATERIALS: constructed of timber, clad in weatherboarding on a concrete plinth with hipped slate roof.
EXTERIOR: two storeys, but the locking floor is very low. There are two pairs of sash windows with vertical glazing bars and horns to the front or east elevation and two single sashes on the end elevations. An iron access balcony is supported on brackets below the windows. Access into the operating room is via a wooden staircase on the north side and through a half-glazed door. Attached to the western part of the north side is a lengthy mid-C20 single-storey extension of corrugated iron or asbestos with a pitched felt roof and continuous glazing, clad in weatherboarding at the north end. This later addition is not of special interest.
INTERIOR: the operating room has a boarded ceiling and walls. Some original block instruments survive, such as bells, repeater and commutator but the lever frame was replaced by a panel in 2005 (which is not of special interest).
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.