Above: Grantham South signal box is prominent in this view on Saturday 20th July 1963. Passing on the Down Main line is Deltic No. D9004, as yet unnamed, with the 14:00 from London King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley 'The Heart of Midlothian'. The tall signal controls traffic approaching the box in the opposite direction, on the Up Main line, which can either continue on the Main line or cross over to take the Up Goods line as far as Great Ponton or Highdyke. Its two semaphore arms were operated from the South Box - the arm on the left (Up Main to Up Goods) by lever number 14 and the arm on the right (Up Main) by lever number 20. The main signal post, the bracket and the two 'doll' posts are all made of reinforced concrete, making for a heavy structure which is stayed by cables carried over the running lines. There's also a steel tiebar to an adjacent signal post, for the Up Goods line, which is just out of shot on the left.
Photograph by Tom Boustead.
Grantham South signal box was situated 500 yards off the south end of the station platforms, on the west side of the main lines. It was a short distance beyond the bridge which takes Springfield Road (known as Brick Kiln Lane until around 1900) under the railway. This was an area of railway property that was fairly inaccessible except by those who had business to be there, so the South box features in fewer photographs than Grantham's Yard and North boxes which were at either end of the passenger station.
Grantham South, which opened in January 1874, was the second largest of the Grantham boxes, being equipped with 86 levers following its final extension during World War 2. It closed in February 1972, having given nearly a century of service.
The box was staffed round-the-clock in three shifts (two shifts on a Sunday) by a Signalman of one of the more senior grades and a Telegraph Lad, a trainee signalman. The signalmen at Grantham South controlled all traffic to and from the Peterborough direction on both the Main lines and the Goods lines, and also access to and from the Up and Down side goods yards and the south end of the carriage sidings.
Grantham South box was surrounded by railway tracks. The main running lines were in front of the box, while behind it ran sidings. Here are some photographs which help to place Grantham South in the context of the track layout and traffic flows at the south end of the station.
A View from Above
A View from the Main Line
Views from the South
Views from the North
Views from the Station
Views from the Box
The following photographs were taken by Mick Grummitt, Rest Day Relief Telegraph Lad from 1959 to 1962 at Grantham North and Grantham South boxes, and also at Crescent Junction, Spital Junction and Westwood Junction boxes at Peterborough.
A picture taken from the north end of the South Box by the British Railways official photographer to record a special train departing with an export order.
Grantham South: Principal Routes - Up Direction
Overlaid on the aerial photograph below are the principal routes set by the South Box signalmen for traffic in the Up (southbound) direction. Scroll from top to bottom to follow the direction of travel.
Grantham South: Principal Routes - Down Direction
Overlaid on the aerial photograph below are the principal routes set by the South Box signalmen for traffic in the Up (southbound) direction. Scroll from bottom to top to follow the direction of travel.
Grantham South: Some Shunt Moves
Overlaid on the aerial photograph below in red are examples of routes that could be set by the South Box signalmen for traffic transferring to and from yards and sidings. Transfers between facilities on the Up and Down sides had to await a spell between trains on both Main lines. For clarity not all potential moves are shown.
Most shunting moves were controlled by disc signals at ground level, operated from the South Box. Routes from sidings to running lines were signalled with miniature semaphore arms. Where there was a choice of routes there were several arms mounted vertically on the same post, reading top to bottom = left to right.
Vehicles and items of plant regularly emerged from the Ruston & Hornsby and Aveling Barford factories, often for export by sea. Empty wagons were sent into the factory sidings for loading. Groups of loaded wagons might then be shunted across the main lines to the West Goods Yard, to be assembled into a complete train destined for the docks.
South of the Box
In 1932 colour light signals were installed on the section of line between Grantham South and Great Ponton signal boxes, replacing the signal box at Saltersford. There was a siding at Saltersford for the nearby Grantham Waterworks and, between 1943 and 1968, there was also a Down Slow loop at Saltersford, controlled from Grantham South box.
Track Diagram, 1967
Malcolm Rush visited Grantham South signal box on Wednesday 4th January 1967 to sketch the track diagram and make notes. Malcolm's drawing and notes, along with links to an exterior photograph and other information, can be seen here. This was part of a wider project involving visits to record similar details at 184 signal boxes.
5 thoughts on “Grantham South signal box – an introduction”
A very well put together article, thank you.
Thanks Tim. More pages about the South Box are in hand.
Well documented article on Grantham South signal box - my Railway Service started there in 1965.
There's mention of this after the item by John Pegg.
Thanks for your feedback Ray, it's good to hear from you. We're going to include the list of South Box signalmen that you noted from your time there in another page: Granthan South Signal Box - people and incidents.
Please can anyone advise me of the names and mileages of the occupation/accommodation crossings on this section of the main line and local names for bridges and cuttings. Thank You