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Wateringbury Signal Box

A Grade II Listed Building in Nettlestead, Kent

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Latitude: 51.2492 / 51°14'57"N

Longitude: 0.4211 / 0°25'15"E

OS Eastings: 569062

OS Northings: 152788

OS Grid: TQ690527

Mapcode National: GBR NPY.R7W

Mapcode Global: VHJMC.7VYR

Entry Name: Wateringbury Signal Box

Listing Date: 18 July 2013

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1414978

Location: Nettlestead, Maidstone, Kent, ME18

County: Kent

District: Maidstone

Civil Parish: Nettlestead

Built-Up Area: Wateringbury

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Nettlestead St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Rochester

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Signal box, 1893, a Saxby and Farmer Type 12 design for the Maidstone to Paddock Wood branch of the South Eastern Railway.


DATE: built in 1893, a Saxby and Farmer Type 12 design built for the Maidstone to Paddock Wood branch of the South Eastern Railway which was opened in 1844.

MATERIALS: locking floor of brick. The operating room is timber framed and clad in weatherboarding with a gabled slate roof.

EXTERIOR: two storeys with four windows facing the line and three windows or two windows and a door at the ends. The roof has overhanging eaves and carved wooden bargeboards. The windows each have four panes and there is an iron access balcony. The door to the operating room has been replaced but the door to the locking room is original and the locking room window survives. The brick steps to the operating room were added in the 1950s and are not of special interest.

INTERIOR: the operating room has an inserted ceiling and a panel (not of special interest) was added in the 1990s. However, the walls are boarded and 9 levers of a 26 lever frame of 1888 Duplex type survive together with a number of block instruments including a computator and bell.


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 4,000 by 1970. In 2012, about 750 remained in use; it is anticipated that most will be rendered redundant over the next decade.

Saxby & Farmer moved away from hipped roof designs in the mid 1880s to gabled boxes and the Type 12 design was built in some numbers for the South Eastern Railway and the London, Chatham & Dover Railway between 1890 and 1894. Their roofs are gabled rather than the hipped type found in earlier Saxby and Farmer designs and they have generous overhangs to the eaves. Wateringbury signal box was opened in 1893 and retains its original frame of 1888 Duplex pattern. It is situated at the end of the station platform and is part of a group with the station building of c.1856 (Grade II) and a contemporary goods shed (Grade II).

Reasons for Listing

Wateringbury Signal Box, a Type 12 Saxby and Farmer signal box erected in 1893 for the South Eastern Railway, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Degree of intactness: unaltered apart from the replacement of the locking room door and the original staircase;
* Survival of operating equipment: it retains the 1888 Duplex lever frame with nine levers and a number of block instruments;
* Group value: it forms part of a group with Wateringbury Railway Station and a goods shed, both listed at Grade II;
* Comparators: Wateringbury is the best preserved of the remaining examples of Saxby and Farmer Type 12 signal boxes.

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