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Rye Signal Box

A Grade II Listed Building in Rye, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9525 / 50°57'8"N

Longitude: 0.7305 / 0°43'49"E

OS Eastings: 591879

OS Northings: 120553

OS Grid: TQ918205

Mapcode National: GBR QXP.CGB

Mapcode Global: FRA D6FL.DDB

Entry Name: Rye Signal Box

Listing Date: 18 July 2013

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1415163

Location: Rye, Rother, East Sussex, TN31

County: East Sussex

District: Rother

Civil Parish: Rye

Built-Up Area: Rye

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Rye

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

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Signal box, 1894 by Saxby and Farmer for the South Eastern Railway.


Built in1894 for the South Eastern Railway. The contractors were Saxby & Farmer and it is an example of their Type 12 signal box.

MATERIALS: lower floor brown brick in Flemish bond with a projecting plinth, the first floor is timber-framed, clad in weatherboarding. Gabled slate roof. Wooden staircase.

PLAN: two storeys with operating floor over locking floor. Four bays long by three bays wide with a staircase at the north-west end. A later C20 toilet extension has been added to the rear and is not of special interest.

EXTERIOR: the south-east side facing the track has four six-pane windows to the operating room and an access balcony with decorative cast iron brackets. the cambered locking room window survives. The north-west end has a straight flight wooden staircase up to the operating room. The gable end has carved bargeboards and there are two four-pane windows, a half-glazed door and small later porch (the porch is not of special interest). The locking room has a panelled door. The south-west end has similar bargeboards, three four-pane windows and a continuation of the access balcony.

INTERIOR: the operating room retains 14 levers of the original 1888 Duplex lever frame. The locking room retains the base of the frame. The modern panel is 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 4,000 by 1970. In 2012, about 750 remained in use; it is anticipated that most will be rendered redundant over the next decade.

Rye Signal Box is located on the Ashford to Hastings line built by the South Eastern Railway and completed in 1851. The signal box is situated opposite the 1851 station by William Tress. It was built in 1894 and retains its original 1888 pattern Duplex frame. It is an example of a Saxby & Farmer Type 12 design. In the mid-1880 Saxby & Farmer moved away from hipped roof designs 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. The boxes were used when interlocking was hastily installed on the SER between 1892 and 1895 on some of its more rural lines.

Reasons for Listing

Rye Signal Box, an 1894 example of a Saxby & Farmer Type 12 signal box, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Degree of intactness: unaltered apart from two small additions;
* Survival of operating equipment: retains an 1888 Duplex lever frame with14 levers;
* Group Value: the signal box is situated opposite Rye Railway Station which is listed at Grade II;
* Comparators: one of only two remaining examples of Saxby & Farmer Type 12 signal boxes (the other being Wateringbury) which have group value with listed railway structures.

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