MEMORIES - THE BIG CHANGE


Signals and Track in the Taunton area.

The sheer size of Taunton's yards, and station complex is clearly evident from this ariel image taken around 1970. The major rationalization of the area in 1986 would have a very dramatic effect on how rail freight would operate in the area. However as with most UK Rail Network rationalization projects, little thought was given to what may be required in the future. But then in 1986 who would have been able to tell what may be required in 2009. When this image was taken Taunton was still heavily reliant on manned signal boxes and semaphores to promote the movement and speed of trains through the area. If you go back to 1960 the signal boxes on the main line between Cogload and Silk Mill were as follows;- Cogload, Creech Junction, Taunton East Junction, Taunton West Station, Taunton West Junction and Silk Mill Crossing. While on the goods lines at Taunton station between Taunton East Junction and Taunton West Junction additional boxes were located at Taunton East Loop and Taunton West Loop. (Photo: Norman Hawkes, Info: David Ingam)

The transfer from Semaphore Signals to colour lights took place during 1986. At the same time signal boxes were gradually decommissioned ready for the switch over to Exeter power box.

This shot from the West end of Platform 2 shows the 3 tier signal gantry routing trains heading West, and the newly installed colour light gantry behind. This would house signals E120 and E20 for routes to the South.

Adjacent in Taunton West Box. This was a superb structure which stood for man years at Taunton. Sadly it was never preserved.

(Photo: Dave Jones)

 

Taunton West Box, is seen with it's traditional semaphore signal, and the new colour light signals (E120 & E20). At this time the box was still operational The West Station Box was a Great Western Railway Type 11 design was opened on 20 December 1931 fitted with a 135 lever Great Western Railway Vertical Tappet 5-Bar frame, and was closed on 12 May 1986. (Info: David Ingam, Photo: Dave Jones)

The above photo shows the removal of the Taunton West Signal box, it's remains are seen here between the up and down lines of Taunton Station. (Photo: Jeff Treece)

By February 1987 the Taunton West Signal Box had been removed from the end of the centre platforms without a trace of the former structure remaining. (Photo: David Tozer)

 

45033 is seen stabled in Taunton Shed, while in the adjacent platform is a wagon containing a new colour light signal gantry. The wagon was moved out into place by a local shunter to allow the gantry to be craned into position. (Photo: Dave Jones)

This image details the half decommissioned signal gantry at the east end of Taunton Station, but this time the days of semaphore signals in the Taunton area were very much numbered. (Photo: Normal Hawkes)

The stunning wide span signal gantry situated at the West end of Taunton Station often featured in photographs from the period. In this image 50025 departs Taunton with a Southbound passenger service passing under the impressive gantry as it leaves. (Photo: Dave Jones)

Photographs of locomotives using the Taunton avoider line are very hard to come by, in 1986 when this image was taken freights using the line were few and far between. A Class 45 is seen above piloting a Class 50 (probably failed) between Taunton East Yard and Fairwater Yard. (Photo: Dave Jones)

This stunning image was taken on the 29th April 1970 showing Hymek D7033 working a rake of mixed wagons between Fairwater Yard and Taunton East. The cars in the foreground really help this shot tell the period in which it was taken. (Photo: Bernard Mills)

The 8th July 1984 saw perhaps the first visit of Class 20's to the South West. Run by F&W railtours 'The Devonshire Dart' used a total of 6 locomotives throughout the day and operated as 1Z38 throughout. 20169+20184 are seen taking the Taunton avoider on their return through Taunton. (Photo: Paul Clarke)

Taunton East Junction, a Great Western Railway Type 11 design was opened in 1931 fitted with a 147 lever frame. The frame and associated signals were replaced by a signaling panel in 1986 and the box was closed on 21 March 1987. It's seen above in a derelict state before demolition. (Info: David Ingam, Photo: Norman Hawkes)

This view taken from Obridge in 1985 shows a BR Blue Class 47 departing from Taunton passing Taunton East Signal Box, and also shows the various semaphore gantry which greeted drivers on the approaches to Taunton Station. (Photo: Dave Jones)

A BR Blue and Grey liveried HST departs Taunton for London Paddington passing the split signal gantry's at Taunton East Foot Crossing. The split gantry's were another focal point of the area. (Photo: Dave Jones)

Looking East from Obridge flyover, 50027 arrives into Taunton passing the two gantry's at Taunton East as featured in the previous HST photo. Note that colour light signals were already erected on the lines. (Photo: Dave Jones)

Silk Mill Crossing, a Great Western Railway Type 12b design, opened in 1940, lost it's semaphore signals in 1986 when the frame was replaced by a signaling panel. The box closed on 21 March 1987 and was demolished on 16-7 January 1988. (Info: David Ingam, Photo: Dave Jones)


Gary Stone has unearthed this selection of images showing the mass removal of the track work to the South of Taunton Station. The scale of the works was huge, and a look at general health and safety was totally different in 1986! The main lift seemed to take place on Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th April 1986, with few locos just cranes involved. Note that the up main line was used as a down line to allow through working to the South of Taunton to continue while the tracks were lifted and realigned.

All Photos Above: Garry Stone

Norman Hawkes also supplied several images from his collection showing the removal of semaphores, realignment of track and disconnection of signaling in the Taunton area. Below is a nice black a white image showing track being lifted adjacent to Railway Street and Avimo. (Photo: Norman Hawkes)

The scale of the engineering works which took place in Taunton was like nothing we had ever seen before. The removal of lines and relaying of existing track all had to take place without disrupting the existing services which operated through Taunton. British Rail equipment was bought in from all over the South West to allow the major remodeling to take place.

(Photo Left: Norman Hawkes)

On the 27th April 1986 08839 hauls a rake of wagons through Taunton Station while a Class 47 stands on an engineers in Platform 3. Large blockades would often enable the major works to be carried out much quicker during weekend periods. (Photo: Steve Awford)

 

On the 3rd March 1987 a British Rail Tamper is seen checking the track gauge within Taunton Station, after new track had been laid through the station area. (Photo: David Tozer)

 

 

Cogload Junction Signal Box

Cogload Jn signal box was located adjacent to the Up Bristol Mainline. It's pictured here complete prior to it's closure in 1986. Cogload Jn Signal Box officially closed it's door for the last time on Friday 4th April 1986. The track layout have already been reduced to two lines by the previous weekend. The box remained in position although slowly being stripped of it's workings until September 1987. It had been purchased for the princely sum of £5.75 by a man named Mike Rees. It was planned to move the box to Coleford GWR museum to be transported in two sections by road. An original lift was planned for 3AM on the 6th September 1987. However the lift didn't happen until 6am. (Photo: Andy Hunt)

The plan was to lift the box clear from it's foundation next to the mainline at Cogload Jn, and then pass it over an adjacent fence into a field behind. The operation went without a hitch, and was completed in a matter of minutes. Once in the field the box was then left until November 1987 while preparations were made in order to split the box into two pieces, ready for transporting by road. (Photo: Andy Hunt)

The photo above shows the stripped box having been relocated to a field next to the Taunton and Bridgwater Canal. (Photo: Derek Garrett)

From the 8th of November 1987 the Signal Box was split into two sections and lifted away from one another on site. The first section departed Cogload Jn on the back of a lorry bound for Coleford GWR Museum near Lydney in Gloucestershire on the 8th November 1987. (Photo: Andy Hunt)

The top section of the signal box can be seen being separated from it's bottom section, an operation it's design was never intended to cope with, there was great fear the framework would simply collapse, remarkably the whole structure remained intact! (Photo: Andy Hunt)

47606 'Odin' passes the Signal Box for the last time with the 10:50 Exeter - London Paddington service. Note the almost ex works appearance of the Class 47 with it's yellow cabs still very clean! (Photo: Andy Hunt)

The lorry owned by Chris Salter of Greenham is seen traversing the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal Towpath passing the Cogload Jn flyover heading North to the canal road exit at Durston. A few weeks later on the 29th of November the top section of the Signal Box was noted parked in a lay by near Durston ready for dispatch to Coleford to meet up with it's other half. (Photo: Andy Hunt)

Sadly although the box has been preserved and still stands today in a small museum in the centre of Coleford (nr Lydney) the box has been modified and now has several 'new 'features including a new name. 'Coleford Jn Signal Box', additional steps, doors and a lever frame from Hereford fitted inside. (Photo: Andy Hunt )

Taunton Trains would like to thank Andy for taking the time to delve into his archive of photos to provide a fascinating insight into an operation which almost went unnoticed!