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A visit to Grantham North signal box in August 1963

by John Clayson

My father and I visited Grantham North signal box on Thursday 22nd August 1963 in the company of one of the Station Inspectors, Phil Craft. The time was 2:30pm, according to the signal box clock in one of the photographs.

As we climbed the steps to the box train 1A35 The Flying Scotsman (10:00 Edinburgh Waverley to London Kings Cross) sped past, hauled by D9013 The Black Watch. Photograph by Cedric A. Clayson.
As we climbed the steps to the box train 1A35 The Flying Scotsman (10:00 Edinburgh Waverley to London Kings Cross) sped past, hauled by D9013 The Black Watch.
Photograph by Cedric A. Clayson.
On duty were Signalman Albert Eldridge - with pipe and trademark cloth - and his Telegraph Lad Dennis Gray. The view through the windows at the far end is south, through the main line platforms. Inside the box everything is sparkling clean and tidy, as is customary. At top left a ‘Tilley’ paraffin vapour lamp hangs, ready to illuminate the box in case of power failure. On the block shelf just below are neatly rolled flags and, next to them, a signalling lamp for hand signalling by day and by night respectively. Further along is a pair of well-worn, brightly polished shoes! No doubt they belong to a man on another shift who, on arrival, would change into them from his outside footwear to avoid scuffing that highly polished lino. Photograph by Cedric A. Clayson.
On duty were Signalman Albert Eldridge - with pipe and trademark cloth - and his Telegraph Lad Dennis Gray. The view through the windows at the far end is south, through the main line platforms.
Inside the box everything is sparkling clean and tidy, as is customary. At top left a ‘Tilley’ paraffin vapour lamp hangs, ready to illuminate the box in case of power failure. On the block shelf just below are neatly rolled flags and, next to them, a signalling lamp for hand signalling by day and by night respectively. Further along is a pair of well-worn, brightly polished shoes! No doubt they belong to a man on another shift who, on arrival, would change into them from his outside footwear to avoid scuffing that highly polished lino.
Photograph by Cedric A. Clayson.
Photograph by Cedric A. Clayson.
Photograph by Cedric A. Clayson.

Signalman Eldridge's son, David, wrote the following in the Comments Book for the Off the Rails exhibition held at Grantham Museum in 2008, where this photograph was shown:
I worked on the railway at Grantham from the age of 16 to 18 as a Telegraph Lad in North Box, South Box and Yard Box. It was nice to see a photograph of my Dad, who worked all his life as a signalman and especially at Grantham North Box where the photograph was taken.

I also met Albert Eldridge's stepson at Grantham Museum in October 2008. He used to take Albert his lunch in the signal box, and he showed me some photographs he'd taken in and around Grantham North signal box.  He told me that Albert was a relief signalman, and that he could work all the signal boxes between Grantham and Peterborough. Living in Grantham, he would sometimes rely on getting lifts from passenger or freight trains, or else travel by bike.

From the 1911 census we learn that Albert James Eldridge was born in Saltby in Leicestershire, between Grantham and Melton Mowbray, on 15th January 1906. In 1911 his family was at Waterloo Farm, Fulbeck Lowfields, between Grantham and Lincoln, where his father was a farm foreman.

Grantham North signal box, looking north on 22nd August 1963. Hanging on the right is a row of point clamps, each with its padlock and key, for use in a situation where a turnout required to be secured immovable. There’s also a ‘loud hailer’ cone for conveying verbal instructions. A supply of lever collars - to be placed over a lever as a reminder of, for example, a stationary train which was to be protected - is kept on two of the four spare levers 95 to 98. On the left there’s a nine-year-old lad in a school cap who’s too excited by all this to keep still for the picture! At that stage in life I dreamed of being a railway signalman. Photograph by Cedric A. Clayson.
Grantham North signal box, looking north on 22nd August 1963. Hanging on the right is a row of point clamps, each with its padlock and key, for use in a situation where a turnout required to be secured immovable. There’s also a ‘loud hailer’ cone for conveying verbal instructions. A supply of lever collars - to be placed over a lever as a reminder of, for example, a stationary train which was to be protected - is kept on two of the four spare levers 95 to 98.
On the left there’s a nine-year-old lad in a school cap who’s too excited by all this to keep still for the picture! At that stage in life I dreamed of being a railway signalman.
Photograph by Cedric A. Clayson.

 

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