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Brundall Signal Box, Broadland

Description: Brundall Signal Box

Grade: II
Date Listed: 26 April 2013
Building ID: 1414004

OS Grid Reference: TG3305307840
OS Grid Coordinates: 633053, 307840
Latitude/Longitude: 52.6183, 1.4414

Locality: Broadland
Local Authority: Broadland District Council
County: Norfolk
Postcode: NR13 5PR

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Listing Text


Signal box built in 1883 for the Great Eastern Railway.

Reason for Listing

Brundall signal box, built in 1883 for the Great Eastern Railway, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: it is the best remaining example on the national network of the GER Type 3 which is one of the most distinctive GER designs with its use of margin light glazing bars and cladding of timber blocks cut out to resemble rustication;

* Intactness: it survives with a high level of intactness, retaining a good proportion of the distinctive fenestration, almost all the original decoration to the operating floor, and the 1927 signal frame.


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.

Brundall Station was built in 1844 for the Yarmouth and Norwich Railway which was later amalgamated into the Great Eastern Railway. The signal box was built in 1883 to the GER Type 3 design. This design was built only between 1882-3 and has two unique features: the form of timber cladding and the pattern of glazing bars. The frame of the box is clad in timber incised to resemble stone blocks, giving the effect of rustication to the elevations. The window frames, rather than having the usual equal size panes divided by a grid of glazing bars, have unequal panes divided so that each frame comprises a large central pane flanked by six small margin lights. This form of glazing bar pattern, which is common in domestic work in the C19 and early C20, is only found in this particular design of signal box. The lever frame at Brundall was replaced in 1927. A small extension for a lavatory was added to the first-floor operating room in the third quarter of the C20. The window on the north-west side has been replaced, as has the door, and the decorative barge boards have been removed on the south-east gable end. A false ceiling has been inserted, and secondary glazing has been fitted. The signal box is still in use but is due to be decommissioned in 2015.


Signal box built in 1883 for the Great Eastern Railway.

MATERIALS: Timber construction and slate-clad roof.

PLAN: It is located to the south-east of the station, on the south-west side of the railway tracks. It is rectangular on plan.

EXTERIOR: The signal box has a pitched roof with ornamental ridge tiles and finials and decorative bargeboards, although these have gone from the south-east gable. It is clad in timber cut to resemble stone blocks which are set in panels formed by the framework of the building. The rear (south-west) side is clad in plain horizontal timber (probably because it is not visible from the track), and has a small timber-clad projection at the operating room level, added to provide lavatory facilities. The box is painted overall in cream and green, the colours of the GER. There are large horizontally sliding sash windows on three sides of the building: those on the north-east (front) and south-east sides retain their distinctive margin lights, whilst those on the north-west side have been replaced with six-light sashes. The locking room is lit on the front elevation by two large rectangular timber windows with four vertical glazing bars. A window cleaning canopy runs around the front and sides of the box. Access to the operating room is via a flight of metal steps on the north-west side. The timber door, which is a replacement, has a glazed upper panel.

INTERIOR: The 1927 lever frame is in situ. A false ceiling has been inserted but the original timber-clad ceiling is intact. There are late C20 fitted cupboards and a desk along the south-west wall.

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