Box to box: The Blyth and Tyne
Welcome to this, the first in an occasional series, highlighting the remains of Britain’s rich signalling heritage.
The 2011 Network Rail plan to concentrate all signalling in a handful of mega signalling centres was a reminder about the vanishing Victorian heritage on our railways and a spur to many to get out with their cameras and record the many manual boxes still in operation on the UK network.
The first article in this series looks at the fascinating Blyth and Tyne system, perched on the coast, north of Newcastle. In 2012, there are still six manual signal boxes in daily operation, although for how long is not clear. In 2010 the signal box at Ashington closed and much of the old line to the Butterwell loader from Ashington had been lifted (access to the loader is still possible directly off the East Coast Main Line).
In February 2012, some of the last trains of imported alumina ran from Blyth Cambois to the Lynemouth aluminium smelter which is due to close later in the year. Alumina will still travel from Cambois to Fort William and coal is loaded in Cambois docks but barring the introduction of a passenger service for the towns of Blyth and Ashington, traffic on the lines is dwindling fast.
Written and photographed by Michael Rhodes.
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