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Par Signal Box, Cornwall

Description: Par Signal Box

Grade: II
Date Listed: 30 April 2013
Building ID: 1413731

OS Grid Reference: SX0769054062
OS Grid Coordinates: 207690, 54062
Latitude/Longitude: 50.3550, -4.7048

Locality: Cornwall
County: Cornwall
Postcode: PL24 2LT

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Listing Text


Signal box of circa 1879 for the Great Western Railway; extended in 1893.

Reason for Listing

Par Signal Box, erected in c.1879, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: as one of only two surviving examples of a GWR-designed type 2 in its original location;
* Intactness: despite the loss of historic fenestration, it is a good example of what was once a standard signal box on the GWR network;
* Historic interest: the 1893 extension provides evidence for its historical development, probably as a result of increased traffic;
* Fittings: for the retention of operating equipment including a lever frame of c.1913 and other train control instruments.


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 Great Western Railway (GWR) employed contractors’ designs of boxes extensively until 1885, and its own designs appeared at the end of the 1860s. The earliest boxes of GWR design were gabled, all brick structures which were built until circa 1875 (GWR type 1). In circa 1875 the GWR type 2 design appeared which was used until about 1880. A type 2 signal box was erected at Par in circa 1879. Par Station opened on 4th May 1859 as part of the Cornwall Railway, and became a junction for the Cornwall Minerals Railway Newquay line in 1879; it closed to passenger traffic in 1925 and most of the station buildings have since been demolished. Par Signal Box was originally 17ft 8in long and contained a frame of 26 levers; it was extended to more than double its original length in 1893 and its frame was also replaced. It currently has a GWR frame of circa 1913 together with a panel installed in 1986. The operating room windows have been replaced in uPVC approximating to the pattern of the originals, and the original vertical boarding below these windows has been replaced with horizontal boarding.


MATERIALS: the ground floor is constructed of brick, with a timber-framed and weather-boarded upper storey. The hipped roof is clad in artificial slates.

EXTERIOR: it is rectangular on plan and of two storeys, with an operating room to the upper floor and a locking room below. As the signal box overlooks tracks to both the west and the east, the operating room has continuous glazing to all four sides, except for the west half of the north gable end. Its fenestration consists of late-C20 uPVC replacements which replicate the original arrangement of sliding sash casements and glazing bars. A short flight of wooden steps leads from platform level to the door to the operating floor. Both the east and west elevations have recessed, square-headed openings to the ground floor and these retain their original windows.

INTERIOR: it retains a lever frame of 57 levers which was installed in circa 1913, and also has a modern control panel which was added in 1986.

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