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Bournemouth West Junction Signal Box

A Grade II Listed Building in Branksome East, Poole

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Latitude: 50.7264 / 50°43'35"N

Longitude: -1.9113 / 1°54'40"W

OS Eastings: 406357

OS Northings: 91871

OS Grid: SZ063918

Mapcode National: GBR X2W.0B

Mapcode Global: FRA 67W5.37K

Entry Name: Bournemouth West Junction Signal Box

Listing Date: 30 April 2013

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1413713

Location: Poole, BH12

County: Poole

Electoral Ward/Division: Branksome East

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Poole

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Branksome

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

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Railway signal box, 1882 for the London & South Western Railway.


MATERIALS: constructed of brick with a timber superstructure under a Welsh slate roof.

DESCRIPTION: tall, narrow signal box with a shallow-pitched, hipped roof which originally had a wooden roof ventilator that has been removed. Brick pilasters divide the ground floor of the front (north) elevation into two bays. Each has a modern uPVC window under a segmental-arched brick head, with a dentil course of bricks above. Set above the ground-floor front windows is a name board reading 'West Junction'. At first floor, both the front and side elevations are fully glazed with top lights, except for the entrance in the east end wall. The windows are uPVC; the pattern of individual lights has been replicated but not those for the glazing bars. An external gantry runs along the north and west sides of the first floor. The doorway to the operating room is set within a projecting porch and is reached by a external timber staircase. There is a further doorway with segmental-arched head to the ground floor of the east elevation.

INTERIOR: the operating room retains a Steven’s frame of 24 levers and has had a control panel installed.


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.

From the late 1870s, the London & South Western Railway favoured hipped roof signal boxes with generous amounts of glazing and rectangular toplights. They were a clear development from the somewhat squat Type 1 design built from about 1871-1880, being larger and lighter. The type 2 design retained valancing which largely obscured the toplights, but for the type 3, built between 1884 and 1895, the valancing was omitted giving the signalman an unobstructed view and, in addition, the size of the windows was increased so that they were now four panes deep.

Bournemouth West Junction Signal Box, a type 3a design, on the London & South Western Railway was built in 1882. It is situated on the up (southern) side of the line and controlled access into Bournemouth West station which was opened in 1874. The station closed in 1965, but the signal box was retained to control the carriage sidings to the maintenance depot put in as part of the Bournemouth electrification scheme. More recently the windows and operating room door have been replaced, and the roof ventilator has been removed. Internally a control panel has been installed.

Reasons for Listing

Bournemouth West Junction Signal Box, a LSWR type 3 of 1882, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: one of the few remaining examples of a signal box type that has become increasingly rare on the former LSWR network;
* Fittings: for the retention of operating equipment, including its original mechanical lever frame;
* Intactness: the replacement of the windows has not been to the detriment of the legibility of the structure as a whole.

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