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  • Mystery Number 194 – supplied by Michael Vanns

    Show image of mystery phot  mobile/M194B.jpg

    From a postcard showing the interior of a large LNWR box
    Do we have a location ?

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  • Philip A.Millard — 18-Jan-2016 7.15 PM
    This is a Type 4 cabin with approximately 70 levers by my count. That would make it size N, of which there were 23 examples according to Richard Foster, but some of these were Type 5. A clue is that looking through the open window it seems that there is a handrail provided at the outer side of the window cleaning stage. This was a fairly unusual feature in LNWR days, and suggests a tall cabin. Two wooden armchairs suggests a double-manned cabin at an important and busy location.
    There were not that many cabins with 70 levers. Examples are Bletchley No.1, Heaton Norris Junction (Stockport), Wigan No.1 and Grand Junction (Birmingham). But it may be impossible to identify this one.
    Gary Wells — 18-Jan-2016 10.38 PM
    Philip do you include extended boxes in your calculations? Diggle Jct was originally a 'J' and extended effectively by adding an 'E' giving a theoretical lever count of 70. There is an apparent large girder gap at this end ,but, I cannot, from memory, remember which end received the addition. There looks to be an internal staircase at the far end which is unusual enough to maybe get a handle on this.
    Philip A.Millard — 23-Jan-2016 8.33 AM
    Yes, you are right Gary. The staircase is internal, which was not common – Springs Branch No.1 is an example. It is a pity that the block instruments are so unclear.
    Reg Instone — 28-Jan-2016 9.54 PM
    I can‘t (yet!) identify this type 4 box, but a few comments might be useful. It is a large type 4 cabin, but I don't think it's a size N as these had only 2-window units in the front (“LNWR Signalling’ fig 10.4). There is clearly a 3-window unit to the right of the photo, so I think it’s more likely to be size O (80-85 levers) or possibly P (90-96 levers). Most cabins of such large size were tall, as this was necessary to fit all the interlocking. The exceptions were those where the locking was partly in a pit below ground (Euston No.2, New Street No.5, Preston No.4). So the handrail outside the windows and the internal stairs would be expected. The large vertical tube is probably for central heating - how many cabins were equipped with this facility?
    The frame is of tumbler type, as one might expect in a type 4 (short loop handles). There appears to be 18 levers this side of the nearest permanent spaces, maybe 50-60 in the middle and another 18 at the far end. All this appears to be symmetrical. Most of the levers standing reverse are painted a light colour, probably blue, so it would seem that there are at least 10 FPLs at this box. There are 6 levers (4 normal, 2 reverse) painted two colours. There are a number of possible explanations, one of which would be that they are for motor operated points, with integral FPLs, black over blue. 6 motor points would be a rarity in the LMS period, so perhaps they are some other colours? What colour were bolt lock levers painted in the LMS period, or indeed electrical release levers? The original print may not be very sharp, but are any lever numbers legible please Michael?
    There are probably 4 (maybe 5) block instruments, but it is impossible to see whether they are single-needle or double-needle. So although this must be a large and complex installation, there are unlikely to be many more than 4 running lines. It may, or may not, be double manned. There are some indicators or possibly sealed releases on the front face of the instrument shelf. They cannot be seen clearly, but they may be of LMS standard type.
    As to date, I would guess the 1930s. The electric lights mean it cannot be much earlier. There is no sign of blackout or other ARP measures. After the War, things got a bit more relaxed and I would expect to see more “home comforts” - soft armchairs, lino, cooker, sink unit etc.
    I think it should be possible to identify this, but it will take a lot of investigation - all help and suggestions would be welcome!
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