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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas wishes

We at the signal box project would like to wish you all a very mery Christmas and look forward to a very productive and exciting new year. Not only will we be coming to the end of our closed period, but there have been major changes to the project. We have been redecorating the pavilion, we've opened a cafe for the visitors, we're in the process of assessing our demonstration process, we're delighted about the long awaited return of Cowley bridge junction and we have a big change at the signal box which we will tell you more about early in 2015.

So from all of the members at the box, happy Chrismas and we look forward to seeing you next year!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Preliminary openday dates 7th & 8th of March

You may be thinking to yourself, "It's all very well these signal box people posting on this blog, but I actually want to go and see this project for my self, because I can't believe how amazing it looks!", well your chance may be on its on its way. As of next year (2015), we are into the final stretch of our closed period, but before we re-open for good, we will be opening for two days in March. We plan to be opening on Saturday the 7th and Sunday the 8th of March in association with the Romsey model railway exhibition as usual. However, what makes this even more exciting is that on Friday the 6th of March, it is the 150th anniversary of the Sprat and Winkle Line!!! Therefore, while we are open on the 7th and 8th we will have a few extra displays and we hope to make the experience extra special! Keep your eyes open for more information as it comes out, here is the place to look! Or join our Facebook page to receive live updates!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

December "Bun Fight"

Well, the last open (working) day of the year...

I'm not sure where this year has gone and it doesn't seem possible that we have been closed for all this time.

To celebrate the festive season (and any other excuse we could come up with) we had a BBQ along with other goodies people brought in.

Jamie cooked some bacon on the BBQ and the resulting bacon rolls were rapidly consumed and very much enjoyed.

Plenty of standing around drinking tea and eating sweet or savoury nibbles appeared to be the order of the day.

Some work was also carried out during the day, believe it or not.  The seat for one of the rail trolleys had a grey undercoat as did some other bits and pieces.  The lean-to had a thorough clean and tidy up.  I carried out some more painting on the ceiling area in the heritage centre and several other odds and ends were done by various people

Some important discussions and future planning also happened during the day.

The heritage centre refurbishment is well underway, with the ceiling almost complete and the majority of the preparations finished.  We hope to "gallop" on with this in the new year.

I would like to wish everyone reading this a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.


Friday, 21 November 2014


Heritage Centre Refurbishment...

During the Winter and whilst closed to the public we are refurbishing the heritage centre.  The hope is to complete the work by the time we re-open.  We are trying to create a much more welcoming and interesting environment for our visitors.

Work started in the toilet area.

This has been completely redecorated and smartened up.

The room was emptied out and dust sheets put down.  All walls, ceiling and paintwork was sanded and filled.  This was then sanded smooth prior to painting.  The ceiling then had two coats of brilliant white vinyl silk emulsion.  The exposed water pipes and the shelves received a coat of primer and the walls had two coats of magnolia vinyl silk emulsion.  The next step was to undercoat all the window frames, door frame, door, shelves and pipes.  This was followed by a second coat.  This was then rubbed down with fine wet-and-dry paper and a gloss coat applied.

The next item to be refurbished was the floor.  This was cleaned and then covered with new hardboard, this being tacked down to prevent any bubbling etc.  Masking tape was applied over all the joins.  The hardboard was then sanded to give it a "key" for the vinyl floor tiles.  These were then laid, cutting around items as required.  The tiles were then cleaned and silicone sealer run around all the edges including the toilet base and pipes.

The finishing touches were to run white silicone along the rear of the shelves and hand basin, and then put all the fixtures and fittings back, including new photos.  A new light was installed and the light switch moved from outside to a ceiling (pull) switch inside the room.

I hope the end result of all this work is that the toilet is now a much more pleasant place to be (not that I think anyone would want to spend too much time in there).

My one wish is that people will look after it and that it will remain looking good for several years to come.

 Now working on the heritage centre.

Almost all exhibits have been removed prior to the refurbishment.
Peter has put in a lot of work on sanding everything down and applying lots of filler in many places. The preparation is the most important part of this sort of job and pays dividends if carried out properly.
I have disconnected and removed the two fluorescent lights and installed two pendants.  These will eventually have authentic green shades on them (after being lowered probably).  The idea is to create a more subtle general light which then can be supplemented with specific lighting in set areas.

Highlighting exhibits in this way should make them more appealing and interesting.

When all the sanding and filling is complete the ceiling will be painted, followed by the walls.  The window and door frames will be finished in white gloss and the shelves, dado and floor battens finished in green gloss.

Well, must crack on otherwise it will never get finished!


Monday, 3 November 2014

November open day and a late update

Gates off the posts
The fire pit
Another month, another workday, and a rather productive one. The main task for the day was burning the remains of our tree trimming from last month. Jamie, Gavin, Tom, Ben and James set about doing this and had supprising succes with the wet/damp wood. Dave spent the day on his 'little project' (he'll tell you more on that when it's done) and I think it's a great bit of work he's doing.
Fittings for the gates
Phone box
Tom, when not tending the fire, continued work on the phone box on the signal, James continued work on the aspect plate. Matthew started to strip the pivot for the ground frame signal which will hold the aspect plate, and Neil
turned over the soil on the vegetable patch, assisted James with his work, did some more garden tiding and removed the level crossing gates for renovation and primed the hinges for the gates.

/third face of SB completed
Oh, and we forgot to mention that the third face of the signal box has been completed. Dave and Keith have done yet another grand job of renovation, and have only got the 'extension' left to do, but this will be left until summer/better weather.

And to end the day, a rainbow was cast across the evening's sky. (Is it a sign?? Or maybe, more fittingly, a signal?)


Saturday, 18 October 2014

RSB trip to Swanage railway

David.T and Jamie on the train -David Canning
Today, a group of members from the project spent a day on the Swanage railway, enjoying steam travel and looking at the signal boxes (of course). After the success of the Ropley/St Albans trip, they were keen to do more regular trips to other preserved railways/projects which is how this trip came about. With Dick at the minibus wheel, Jamie, Dave.T, Tom, Matthew, Dale, David & Marion.C,  PeterDavid, Janet, James and Ben climbed in the back and set off for Norden, the first station on their trip.
Photo exchange, Corfe Castle
- David Canning

Upon arrival the members were welcomed by Roger and they divided themselves up into 3 groups. The groups would take it in turn to go into each of the three signal boxes. It was a great experience to be in a real working signal box seeing the signalman going about his duties and watching the steam trains go flying past. The added excitement for this trip was the chance to go on the steam trains! To get from one station to the next the members did the obvious thing of traveling by rail.

Harmans Cross - Jamie Brooker
Harmans Cross - David Canning

Harmans Cross - David Canning
Harmans Cross Signal box houses a Stevenson's frame similar to that at Romsey. This box is the most modern out of the three and is currently waiting for brass instruments to replace the current Bake-o-light ones. Even without the glimmering brass work it gave a sense of what it would have been like operating a war time box. Unlike Romsey, Swanage work using single track operations which means the exchange of a key token, this means the signalman is often busy running in and out of the box to retrieve/give the token from/to the driver.
Met 1 - Jamie Brooker
The members were also in for a treat on the day because the railway were running one of the old London Underground steam engines, Metropolitan 1. It was great to see this historic engine steaming through the station as it should be. Along with this there were regular double headed and goods trains which were also an added interest.

Corfe Castle - Jamie Brooker
Corfe Castle is the second biggest box on the line with 30 levers, but with only 18 currently in use. It was originally controlled by the 12 leaver Stephenson's frame that was in use when the station shut (and is still in place).
This was the second leaver frame to
Corfe Castle - David Canning
Corfe Castle - Jamie Brooker
be used at this station, the first would have been the size and in the location as the one currently in use after being rebuilt. The reason for having so many spare levers is so that the line can be extended from Norden to the main line station so that the Swanage railway can run a regular service and have visiting locomotives. This part of the line would be controlled by Corfe Castle, but there would be a token exchange at Norden crossing box (not an actual signal box) to meet signaling regulations. The old lever frame is currently in the process of being converted into a simulator to give visitors the chance of oporating the signal box.

Swanage Box - David Canning
Swanage Signalman - David Canning
Finally, Swanage box is the largest of the three with 40 levers. This is the busiest of all the boxes on the steam gala weekend with trains always on the move and little time for the signal man to sit down. The Signal box has 2 king levers to allow the box to be switched out on days when running DMUs so that only one signal man is needed at Corfe Castle. After we had had a good look around we decided to get out of the signalmans way and went for lunch.

Swanage Frame - Jamie Brooker
After our sea front fish and chips, we split up and went our own ways. Some had a look around the engine sheds at Swanage, others had a look around the museum at Corfe Castle and later, the members had a look around the mining museum at Norden. Before leaving, the members waited for the rest of the group to meet at Norden, and watched them arrive being hauled up by the Met 1 underground loco. Before the day was up, the members had a visit to the Norden crossing box which will eventually be used to control the crossing gates until CCTV is added when it can be controlled by Corfe Castle. The box will then be solely used as a token exchange point where a complex system is in place so the signal man at Corfe is in complete control of both of the token machines at the crossing and on the main line platforms.
Norden Crossing Box - Jamie Brooker
Met 1 approaching Norden - Jamie.B
I think I speak for everyone when I say a big well done to the Swanage railway for all their hard work and preservation efforts to get the railway into such a good state. It will be great to see historic DMUs running regular services to the main line and bringing in more visitors. Everyone had a great day and we look forward to our next group visit.

The trips are open to all members of the project and if you would like to attend please contact us for more details of our next trip when information becomes available.

The Group outside Norden crossing Box - David Canning


Sunday, 5 October 2014

October work day

Many different tasks were fulfilled on today's open day. Ben continued to work on the railway boundary marker, James started to renovate our GWR signal that we found amongst some of our metal work. This will eventually be linked up to our GWR ground frame with GWR ground signal to show the differences in railway companies. Neil continued work on our ever improving gardens, clearing the vegetable patch and weeding various other areas.
Gavin and Jamie worked to clear the hawthorn tree that was growing over the fence and risking damage to our new fence, this was completed by the end of the day. Tom worked on renovating the phone box at the bottom of the distance signal. And how could we forget Dave, he was our supervisor for the day after recovering from an operation, never the less, his style was not impeded. We all wish him a speedy recovery.

For such a quiet, cold open day, the members were pleased with the progress made today.


Monday, 29 September 2014

The signal

The latest edition of the signal (our newsletter) is now out! It can be found in the downloads section of our website. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


The redecorating of the East face of the signal box is now complete.

Now we move on to the South face, which is in need of a lot of TLC.  This face will definitely require stripping prior to priming.
More news as we progress.


Sunday, 3 August 2014


The redecoration of the east face of the signal box is progressing well.

By the end of the August first Sunday of the month "working" day we were well on track for finishing this face.  The tongue and groove boarding had received it's flexible filler (having previously received wood filler where required) and was undercoated.  The windows have been undercoated after more filling in where required.  This is no mean feat as there is so much "cutting in" due to all those panes of glass.  Well done Keith!

This side of the box will quickly start to look as it should now.  It's all the preparation that takes the time.

In this photo the frames, gutter and windows have been undercoated,
and the white primer on the boarding has almost been covered with undercoat.

We were a bit thin on the ground with volunteers this month.  Only myself, Keith and young Tom turned up.  Keith and I battled on with the decorating while Tom cut the grass and did a lot of trimming etc.  Thanks Tom.

Hopefully the next redec report will have a photo showing this side of the box in it's proper colours.


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Sunday Open Day

A big thank you to everyone who turned up on our open days. Over the two days we had 199 visitors (73 on the 7th and 126 on the 13th) despite the fact that we have been closed for 6 months and have restricted access which meant a 10 minuet walk from our normal entrance. This has been a great help especially as we got over £100 in donations over the two days. This money will help with the upkeep of the box and allow us to keep working and get us through this year to our reopening.

We are also looking to open next year on Saturday March 7th in association with the model railway exhibition and also to align with the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Redbridge-Romsey-Andover line (railway line officially opened March 6th). This will be an exciting time to visit the box as we will probably do something extra special for the event.

Work on Saturday was minimal. Sunday, however, saw more action. Young member Tom continued work on the trolley seating area, Tom along with Josh look to attend our work day on Thursday to start the repainting.

 A lot of weeding was done by David and Gavin, and then Peter and Tom also re-did the wood preservative on the trolleys and also repainted the wheels.

Jamie and Gavin also started to dismantle the ground frame as it is in desperate need of renovation. Jamie is looking to finish the dismantling on Thursday and give all the metal work a strip down and a coat of red oxide paint.

Thanks again for all your support and we look forward to reopening and hope to see you on the 7th of March.

Dates for the permanent reopening of the box will be published at a later date.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Inside Redecoration Complete


The inside of the signal box has now been completely redecorated in the authentic pre-1920s colours.

It was a mammoth task and took up many hours.  It was also very difficult to know just how far to go, after all it's a very old building.  If we made things look too pristine it would begin to look like a new building.

A compromise was reached at each stage and, hopefully, we have achieved our goal.

We hope you like the end result.

We have now moved on to the outside again.  The north side was redecorated last summer.  We are now doing all the preparation work to the east side.  The old paint is being burnt off, the bare wood sanded and then knotting and primer applied.  Filler, more sanding, undercoat and gloss will then be applied.  Again, it's a lot of work, but worth it in the long run.

Watch this space for more updates.


Tuesday, 8 July 2014


After Saturday's open day we are pleased to announce that it was a booming success with over 7o visitors turned up, even in the drizzling rain, to say hello and find out about our progress. I know what you're thinking, "AHH, I missed my chance to visit the fantastic Romsey Signal Box", well fear not my friend, we are open again on Sunday the 13th. Its you last chance to visit the box this year until we re-open this time next year. Thank you for your support!

Don't forget that we are not accessible through our old gates on Winchester Road, you will have to park in the Nightingale surgery car park and take a short walk to our gate. We're sorry, its the only way.

Address for car park:

Nightingale surgery 
Great Well Drive

There will be signs to show the way to the box, there is a short walk to get there, but the path is paved.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Parking arrangements for the upcoming open days

Please remember to park in the nightingale surgery car part if you are joining us on Saturday, we have permission to use the car park from the surgery . You will have no access through the normal gates due to building works.

Address for car park:

Nightingale surgery 

Great Well Drive




There will be signs to show the way to the box, there is a short walk to get there, but the path is paved.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Cowley Bridge Signal box Progress

For many of our visitors (and some members), Cowley bridge has been a working progress, they never got to see Cowley Bridge mk.1. However, over the weekend our chairman, Peter Chatfield, and Treasurer, Dick Hewett  (who is also leading the work on the new building) took a trip up to London to visit Alan Johnston who is one of our members; he is the person who is tackling the challenge of working on Cowley Bridge Junction signal box (our miniature signal box that we can take to shows). We are very pleased to announce that this fantastic piece of engineering is nearing completion and we may be looking at welcoming the model to Romsey some time next year! (or later if the building is not completed). Peter and Dick were even more pleased when Alan was actually able to demonstrate the simulation to near perfection (few tweaks and bugs to iron out).  But overall this is looking extremely promising and hopefully we will have it on site when we reopen next year! Yet another reason to come to the signal box when it re opens, two signal boxes for the 'price' of one (its free any way). This is a great opportunity to say our thanks for all the years of work Alan has put into this project single handed and we look forward to welcoming this amazing educational artefact back to the signal box!


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Up coming open days

Please remember our two open days are coming up next month on:
July Saturday 5th
July Sunday 13th

Come along and see the progress since we shut and have a go. If you've never been, come along and see what it's all about, this is for anyone of any age, expericence or knowledge.

We hope to see you there, don't forget it's free!!

Pleases remember we have to use the back gate, THE FROUNT GATES WILL NOT BE OPEN!! Parking is available in the Nightingale surgury 

Great Well Drive




Saturday, 14 June 2014

Ding Ding; Romsey Signalbox crew Entering Section

Today, the friends of Romsey signal box were let loose around England as they went on their first ever social day trip to visit other preserved signal boxes. Friends on the trip were:
  • David Trewern
  • Keith Phillips
  • Gavin Brooker
  • Jamie Brooker
  • Peter Chatfield (joined us at Ropley)
  • Janet Payne
  • Ben Cook
  • Tom
  • Roger Pleasant
  • Dick Hewett (who kindly provided transport)

The day started by the members meeting just outside Romsey/getting picked up on our way out as we headed for our first signal box of the day, Ropley on the Mid Hants line, we were to meet Peter there as he had come down on the train. When we arrived, we were greeted by Jim Russell, Distric Inspector from the organisation. He took us up into the box and answered any of our questions alongside the signalman working the box. We had talks about the progress of signalling on the line, near feature advancements of Ropley signal box, and anything else we wanted to know about the signalling of the line and general discussion on mainline signalling.

Once we had been into the box and got in the way of the signalman a couple of times, we had to tear
ourselves away from the excitement of an actual working box and proceed to our next location, St Albans signal box.

Like Romsey, St Albans is a preserved signal box that runs simulations, the only difference is, they are very close to the main line (and very, very fast trains!!). They gave us a tour of their site and showed us how they worked their open days. We were very impressed by their extensive collection of signalling artefacts and  all the demonstration material they had in their visitor centre: token block demonstration, communication demonstration, upper/lower quadrant demo, e.t.c.

After having a look around and some of the members (mostly Jamie) having a play on some of the ground frames and demonstration material in the bottom of the box (their visitor centre) we were allowed upstairs to see the business end of things.

Once up there we were given information on the box and its workings, followed by a simulation. After this, the members were let loose on the frame. Jamie was volunteered to go first, and... broke the simulator. After resolving the problem, other members had goes working the frame and learning about the box. At the end, Jamie had another go at the frame, and broke it again (this time it was not his fault, it was a frequently reoccurring problem, so we let him off).

Overall, a very good day was had by all. Ideas on modification to Romsey box/how we run open days were suggested and it has given us some good things to go away and think about.

Please follow the link here for St Albans website

 Photos from today;

Sunday, 4 May 2014


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May the 4th open day

Lots of progresse has taken place since our last update. 

For a start, the painting of the interior of the box is very near completion. The top half of the box has been completed by our fantastic team of painters mainly Dave and Keith. They have spent many weeks, sanding, priming, more sanding, undercoating and finally painting the box to give it a fresh look. Dave says, "We have tried hard to make the inside look smart, but still keep a feel for a working signal box. If the box was in operation there would not have been much time (or space) for decorators to get in the box, so it would just be touched up here and there when possible." So far, the top half of the inside has been complete and finished (above brown stripe) and today. work started on top coating the bottom half.

Keith says, "We are at a stage where the surface has been prepared well and the task of actually painting the inside will take very little time, more time is spent in preparation than in painting. It shouldn't be more than 2 weeks until we have the inside of the box back to normality, then work begins on the outside of the box before the open day in July."

Elsewhere on site, members have been busy keeping the gardens in shape. With Dave and Keith otherwise occupied, they have had little time for gardening, and, with all the rain and the sun, everything has put on a growth spurt. Jamie worked hard mowing the lawn as it was surprisingly long and took a couple of goings over with the lawnmower (working down in height). This generated a lot of cuttings and these have been left in our composter to break down for use around the site.

Neil was also at work in the garden, his day started by taking a trip to the local garden centre to get some garden canes so that he could plant out some French beans. Along side the beans, rhubarb is also growing. We are looking to add a couple more veg plants so that the members will be able to take home some goods, come harvest.
Grass after cutting

Once veg duties were complete, Neil started some general tiding in preparation for the up coming open days (tiding was needed regardless). Flower beds were weeded and plants dead headed and trimmed when over hanging path ways.

Yong member Josh continued work on the trolley seating area (originally built by the previous young members) and has nearly finished sanding it sown. A few ply wood boards need replacing, and once this is done, it can be painted and replaced on the trolley.

Young members project : trolley seating area
Ben also continued work on his project of renovating the boundary marker. Old paint removal has been completed and it has also had dust and oil removed. Next month it can be primed and then top coated.

A pump was also added to the water butt to allow water to be dispersed around the site with ease, and this will also save water, and less water = lower water bill = happy treasurer.

Peter continued work on restoring the Cowley Bridge Junction block instruments and bells (we could see our model signal box working in the not too distant future).

Over all, another productive work day. Don't forget our planned open days in July are Saturday the 5th, and Sunday the 13th, hope to see you there.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

New Fencing and Interior Redecoration

The new fencing is almost complete, with just a couple of minor adjustments to carry out.

Temporary boarding has been erected where the new gates will be installed.  These will be fitted in the near future.

The old fencing was looking distinctly "tired" and so the new fencing will enhance the overall appearance of the site.  It will also add to the security.

The ongoing redecoration of the inside of the signal box is now well advanced.
The ceiling is complete and the windows, frames and door have been prepared, primed and undercoated.

The windows are due to be glossed on Tuesday the 1st April.  The outside of the wooden cupboards have been prepared and undercoated.  These are now also ready for the top coat of paint.
There is now just a small amount of preparation work to carry out on the lower walls.  These can then be primed, undercoated and glossed.
We are getting to the stage where things will take shape very quickly.  We want to get this inside work completed because we need to move to the outside of the box by the summer.