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Nunthorpe Signal Box

A Grade II Listed Building in Ormesby, Redcar and Cleveland

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Latitude: 54.5277 / 54°31'39"N

Longitude: -1.1692 / 1°10'9"W

OS Eastings: 453867

OS Northings: 515027

OS Grid: NZ538150

Mapcode National: GBR NJ82.PQ

Mapcode Global: WHD77.0GJC

Entry Name: Nunthorpe Signal Box

Listing Date: 21 November 2013

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1412066

Location: Redcar and Cleveland, TS7

County: Redcar and Cleveland

Electoral Ward/Division: Ormesby

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Middlesbrough

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Nunthorpe St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: York

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Signal box of 1903 built to the 1899 Type C2b design of the Central Division of the North Eastern Railway.


Railway signal box, 1903, by and for the North Eastern Railway. Type C2b design of 1899.

MATERIALS: red brick laid in English Garden Wall bond with timber porch and steps to the upper operating floor; Welsh slate roof.

EXTERIOR: two-storey, two-bay signal box orientated parallel to the tracks to the north eastern side. The roof is hipped with small gablets fitted with ventilation louvers. The upper, operating room was continuously glazed to the front and gable ends; however two sections to the front were boarded over when the windows were replaced with double glazed units in circa 2011. The modern windows replicate the glazing pattern of the originals and appear to replicate the horizontal sliding sashes to the front and gables. The space between the top of these windows and the open eaves is filled by diagonally set timber boarding. This boarding and the principal timber framing to the windows (which is chamfered) is considered to be original. The rear of the signal box is completely brick built and has one (replacement) window giving a view of the road approaching the crossing. The operating room is accessed via a timber porch to the south-eastern gable and is an original part of the structure rather than a later addition. This has a hipped roof extending from the main roof and is reached by a dog-legged flight of timber steps. Below the porch is the door to the ground-floor locking room. The two windows to the locking room (which used to overlook the tracks) have been bricked up. The signal box retains its external balconies designed to facilitate the cleaning of the operating room windows. These are in the form of simple planked walkways supported on iron brackets which extend upwards to support iron handrails.

INTERIOR: the signal box retains a reconditioned McKenzie & Holland frame of 16 levers in addition to a ship's wheel style mechanism for opening the level crossing gates by hand. It also retains a Tyler and Co electrical mechanical block instrument.


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 North Eastern Railway divided its civil engineering and signalling into three divisions, the Southern, Central and Northern, each with its own distinctive designs. The Central Division (which consisted of the lines of the former Stockton & Darlington Railway) was abolished in 1899, its territory being divided between the other two divisions, although its designs continued to be used for a few years. Nunthorpe Signal Box is one such example, built in 1903 to a Central Division design (now known as the Type C2b) of circa 1899, a design that continued to be used up until about 1905. Nunthorpe Signal Box retains a reconditioned McKenzie & Holland frame that was fitted in 1966. The signal box is sited adjacent to the Guisborough Road level crossing on the opposite side of the road to the railway station which retains its mid C19 station building (unlisted).

Reasons for Listing

Nunthorpe Signal Box is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Representative: as a very rare (possibly unique) surviving example of the North Eastern Railway Type C2b design;
* Architecture: the use of gablet mounted ventilators cleverly combines the constructional advantages of a gabled and hipped roofed, producing a visually striking signal box;
* Preservation: the signal box retains its external balconies and timber steps (both relatively rare survivals) and has not been altered with the addition of a toilet extension. Although the windows are replacements, they preserve the original glazing pattern.

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