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Chichester Signal Box

A Grade II Listed Building in Chichester, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.832 / 50°49'55"N

Longitude: -0.7859 / 0°47'9"W

OS Eastings: 485594

OS Northings: 104311

OS Grid: SU855043

Mapcode National: GBR DGS.L48

Mapcode Global: FRA 967W.X72

Entry Name: Chichester Signal Box

Listing Date: 18 September 2013

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1413573

Location: Chichester, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19

County: West Sussex

District: Chichester

Civil Parish: Chichester

Built-Up Area: Chichester

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Chichester St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

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Signal box, 1882 for the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway on the Brighton and Portsmouth Railway.


DATE: built in 1882 for the London Brighton & South Coast Railway. A Saxby & Farmer Type 5 design.

MATERIALS: locking room of brown brick in Flemish bond with red brick voussoirs, impost band and stone keystones. The operations room timber-framed, clad in horizontal weatherboarding. Hipped slate roof.

PLAN: two storeys and five bays long by two bays wide.

EXTERIOR: tall panelled locking room with round-arched openings with keystones, now blocked, and round-headed arched entrance, also with red brick voussoirs and stone keystone, on the east side. The operations room has posts between the bays, supported on brackets to the overhanging eaves. There are oval panels above the windows, which are sliding six-pane casements, most on the front or west side retaining the original curved heads. Entrance to the operations room is via a tall two-flight wooden staircase at the east end.

INTERIOR: the interior has a C20 suspended ceiling and secondary double-glazing and the lever frame was replaced by a panel in 1991. These features are not of special interest.


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 will be rendered redundant over the next decade.

Chichester Signal Box was built in 1882 for the London Brighton & South Coast Railway on the Brighton and Portsmouth Railway and is an example of a Saxby & Farmer Type 5 design. This design was introduced in 1876 and signal boxes continued to be built to this design until 1896. This type was widespread and appeared on more than a dozen railways, including the London Chatham & Dover Railway, the Great Eastern Railway and also in Ireland and overseas. It was particularly associated with the London Brighton & South Coast Railway, where John Saxby had commenced his career and with which he had pioneered the use of mechanical interlocking of points and signals. Chichester Signal Box is (with the Grade II listed Eastbourne) one of the two largest examples to survive of the Saxby & Farmer Type 5 design.

The Chichester Signal Box has experienced some alteration with the round-headed locking room windows subsequently bricked up, secondary double glazing inserted in the late C20 and the original frame replaced by a panel in 1991.

Reasons for Listing

Chichester Signal Box constructed in 1882 for the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: an architecturally impressive signal box and one of only two surviving examples of a five bay Saxby & Farmer Type 5 signal box nationally;
* Degree of survival: the signal box survives in good condition with most of its original horizontally-sliding sashes remaining. Any alterations are minor and/or relatively unobtrusive.

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