Brick-built signal box situated on the ‘down’ platform to the south-west of the main station building and booking hall at Haslemere Station.
Reason for Listing
Haslemere Signal Box, a London & South Western Railway Type 4 design, on the Portsmouth Direct Line and built 1895, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Intactness: apart from the uPVC windows, which are sympathetic to the original design, the exterior is unaltered. It also retains its original 1895 forty-seven lever Stevens (Railway Signalling Co) lever-frame, together with associated block instruments;
* Rarity: only remaining L&SWR Type 4 six-window bay design extant, and one of only two platform mounted Type 4 signal boxes;
* Group value: it forms part of a group of un-designated station buildings, including the booking hall (1858), waiting rooms, and a lattice-girder foot bridge.
From the 1840s, huts or cabins were provided for men operating railway signals. These were often located on raised platforms containing levels 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 will be rendered redundant over the next decade.
Haslemere is situated on the Portsmouth Direct Line which branches from the South Western Main Line at Woking. The section between Godalming and Havant was built for the Portsmouth Railway by the contractor Thomas Brassey, but opening was delayed by disagreements with the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway which owned the connecting line at Havant. The line was opened in December 1858 and Haslemere station was opened in January 1859. The station booking hall was built in the Tudor-revival style and is almost certainly by Sir William Tite. The existing London & South Western Railway Type 4 signal box was completed in 1895. The growth in competition with road traffic and the introduction of ‘block’ goods trains, resulted in the closure of the goods yards during the 1970s; however, the volume of passenger traffic has ensured that the signal box has remained in operation.
London & South Western Railway Type 4 signal box, 1895, modern alterations and additions (those of post-1980s vintage are not of special interest).
MATERIALS: red brick in English bond. Hipped Welsh slate roof with overhanging eaves and timber verge boards. Timber stairs and landing.
PLAN: rectangular-plan, two-storey structure with the lower storey forming a semi-basement.
EXTERIOR: two-storey structure has a broad brick panel dividing the glazing on the front elevation, with three four-light uPVC windows to either side, set into the original timber window frame. Each end wall also has a pair of four-pane uPVC windows. The windows are mounted in timber frames that rest on projecting painted plain stone window cills, which wrap around the north and west corners. The window frames have transomes with rectangular glazed toplights (now painted over). There are two original timber three-pane locking room casement windows beneath segmental brick arches in the main elevation (north-west wall). A modern navy blue name board with the name 'Haslemere’ printed in white is mounted on the central brick panel below the cill line. The rear southern corner of the south-east and south-west elevations rises to the full two-storey height where a disused railway ‘bay’ still exists to the rear. The lower storey containing the locking room is sunken into the depth of the platform and is accessed down a flight of five brick steps leading to a doorway in the north-east elevation. The operations room is reached by a centrally set, short flight of timber steps that rise from the platform to a timber landing, supported on two strutted cantilevered beams and two brick carrier walls built against the north-east elevation. Timber posts supporting inclined handrails protect the steps and the landing has handrails supported by posts with cruciform rails. A timber weatherboard porch with a signalman’s closet beneath a catslide roof occupies the southern half of the landing and protects the operations room door from the weather. The porch is accessed by an external uPVC door with two glazed panels. The hipped Welsh slate clad roof has red ridge tiles and a projecting ventilator flue set in the southern slope. The roof projects beyond the face of the structure to form eaves with sloped timber soffits and cast-iron rainwater goods mounted on verge boards. The catslide roof over the porch is supported at its northern corner on a timber post that also supports a handrail for the flight of steps.
INTERIOR: the operations room is entered from the porch through a uPVC three-panel door with glazed upper panels, situated at the southern end of the north-east elevation. The room is equipped with a forty-seven lever Stevens (Railway Signalling Co) frame, beneath a blockshelf with ‘up’ and ‘down’ block instruments, and a 1980s period track circuit diagram; this equipment is supplemented by a modern computer display on a desk situated in the southern corner of the room. Signal cable tensioning wheels are located against the front wall and a suspended ceiling has been inserted. The interior faces of all of the brick walls have been painted and an original two-door wooden cupboard is attached to the rear wall. The locking room is entered by a framed ledged and braced timber door beneath a flat brick arch and houses the mechanical locking-frame carried on a timber beam that runs the full length of the room. Modern electrical equipment is attached to the rear and the south-west walls. The cut-off ends of the cantilevered timber beams that support the landing pass through the north-east wall and project into the room.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.