There didn't used to be a signal box at Consall back when this was a working railway, the North Rode (south of Maccclesfield) to Uttoxeter line, as it was a two-track railway with no crossovers at Consall, the points for the station sidings being operated from ground frames. When the Churnet Valley Railway re-opened the line as a heritage railway it was single track except at Froghall and Leekbrook (the termini) where run-round loops were provided, and at Consall where a passing loop was put in to enable up and down trains to pass each other. It was to operate this bidirectionally signalled passing loop that a fully mechanically and electrically interlocked signal box was installed, first coming into service ten years ago today.
A new brick base was laid for the box, but the superstructure (the main part of the box) came from Clifton on the Ashbourne to Uttoxeter line. Clifton box also controlled a level crossing, so the box has a bay window in one end so the signalman could see any road traffic before he 'swung the gates'.
Please click on any picture for a bigger image.
Consall signal box (picture not taken today), showing the bay window which allowed the signalman to observe road traffic approaching the level crossing this box used to control at its original location (Clifton)
This document confirms (near the top) the box to be ten years old today!
I arrived at a rather damp Cheddleton about 08:15 this morning. The TKH tank was being prepared to attach to the rear of the DMU for the run to Consall for 'splitting the staff' (see earlier in the blog for an explanation of that).
Another view of the TKH tank this morning at Cheddleton
We gave a lift to a PW (Permanent Way) gang who had some work to do between Cheddleton and Consall. Here they are getting themselves and their equipment out of the DMU.
After the staffs had been split, the THK tank returned to Cheddleton to pick up its stock and start services from there, while the DMU proceeded to Froghall to commence the service from that end of the line. When the trains came back to cross each other in Consall loop, the TKH tank had suffered a vacuum brake probelm so class 33 diesel 'Sophie' was deputising for it. Later, the other 33, 'Captain Charles', took over as 'Sophie' was running short of fuel.
The weather wasn't kind to our Peppa Pig event; children, parents, and grandparents queue in the rain to meet Peppa and George, who, sensibly, stayed in their tent
A moody shot out of Consall box in the rain this morning. Note my 'wet weather' jacket hanging on the door so I can grab it on the way out to get the staff from trains.
Peppa and George meet their public as the rain relented later in the day. By evening it was lovely, and I drove home from Cheddleton with the MX5's roof down (as it almost always is if it's not raining!).
The power of corporate marketing; kids cuddling a Peppa suit, overseen by the black-shirted 'Peppa minder'. I'm not quite sure what he was there for.
Later in the day, the TKH tank, having been repaired, was back in service
Take a look at these two videos I took from the steps of the signal box today. Just click on the text:
The Steam loco has gone tech, so a 33102 'Captain Charles' deputises. The DMU pulls away towards Cheddleton its sound drowned by the 33, which then leaves for Froghall.
Later, the TKH tank loco is back in service, here seen leaving Consall for Froghall
That's the last turn in Consall 'box for me this year. The only 2-train service remaining on the railway in 2014 is an evening Ghost Train on Halloween. Howard will be manning the 'box for that one.
In order to get more time volunteering on the railway, I'm currently undergoing training as a guard. Not as satisfying (or demanding!) as working the signal box, but at least you get to travel up and down the line and meet a few folk. I'll be down next Sunday on the Freewind motorbike for a guard training session and also to renew my PTS (Personal Track Safety) qualification.