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Tuesday, 1 November 2016


Sunday the 30th of October 2016 saw a first for us as we hosted our very first coach tour.

Bluebird Holidays of Weymouth included us on a weekend mystery tour.  We were "invaded" by 48 people, which is by far the most we have coped with all at once.

Our main concern was that of access along the narrow and winding entrance road.  The driver stopped outside and walked up to the box to assess the situation.  He then managed to manoeuvre the coach and even turn and reverse it into our car park.  This was quite a feat as the coach is the longest you can buy!

There were seven of us volunteers on site and we managed to "feed and water" all our visitors, show them around and even let them have a go at the signal levers in the box.

They were all lovely people and certainly seemed to enjoy the experience.

This was obviously a special visit and not an ordinary open day.  I'm sure the volunteers found the experience rewarding, as hopefully our visitors did.

We would like to thank Bluebird Holidays for including us on their tour, and all our visitors for putting up with our occasional shortcomings in trying to manage so many people all at once.  We have made a few notes for improvements the next time.


Monday, 22 August 2016

Latest news

I should really be posting to this blog more often but things often get in the way. I will be trying to make more effort in the future!

Drilling the new sleepers ready for the bolts
After our sleeper delivery, we had a second visit from the mid hants railway (MHR) guys to install the sleepers, it was very kind of them to do this as originally we were only offered the sleepers. They spent a log day at the signal box in very warm weather but they did a brilliant job and it would've taken us a year to do what they did in just one day. They also brought all the proper tools for the job (as you'll see in the photos) yet something we don't have.

Inserting the new sleeper
As this was all done for free we felt it our duty to provide them with lunch, so Dave and I brought along some camping stoves and did burgers, sausages and bacon. Oh, I almost forgot, Dave did onions too!


We are so great full for the sleepers and all the time the volunteers from the MHR have given up, but it felt like we all had a good time and a laugh while we (they) were working. Although no money was asked for, we shall be making a donation to the railway as they've done so much for us. But thanks is also due to our volunteers who helped by removing the ballast around the sleepers that were due to be changed. This saved some much time on the day of the sleeper change and saved the MHR guys having to make a second visit. now just a case of putting it all back in.

Adrian and Allan replacing the ballast

In more recent news, Dave has installed a form of shelving in the pavilion to display all our merchandise. He has built some 'rustic' boxes which we have screwed to the wall. They really suit the room, display the products nicely and seem to be able to take the weight. The only flaw we found was that we had to install some Perspex in the boxes to stop the products falling through the gaps. The only thing left to install will be some lighting as it looks a bit dull in this area.

Painting the signal box exterior continues and Dave and Keith are on the final side of the signal box. The wood has been primed and under coated and certain parts now even have a top coat of gloss paint. If the weather is nice this week they predict that the majority of it will be completed on Wednesday, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Cowely Bridge signal box has also had some work done. I spent the best part of a day polishing the lever tops to make them shiny as they would've been in a real signal box. Only trouble with this is that touching the levers without a cloth would now mean they will start to rust, and an authentic lever cloth is far too big for the 1/4 sized levers. So I fired up the sewing machine and a day later had produced a scale lever cloth! I didn't stop there though, I also produced some lever collars which would've been an important part of the signalling equipment.

On the more technical side of things, we had visit from Alan on Saturday (the system designer) and the lever from interlocking has also had an update and now makes much more sense and the code itself is easier to read. We have also had the first run of the new automated simulator! It seems to work fine but has not been left with us yet as there are still a few alterations to make.

The members also had their AGM on Saturday where many information about the project was fed back from the committee to the members, the minuets of this meeting will be published in our next newsletter.

We hope that you'll find time in the near future to visit the signal box and see all these developments for yourself. Also, all members are invited to attend our social evening in September. If you're a member and haven't heard about this and/or now want to attend, get in contact with the usual people.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Lying down on the job? Must be sleepers

Today we had deliver of sleepers from the mid-hants railway. Recently the mid-hants has been changing a lot of their sleepers and although the ones they have removed are no longer fit to run trains over, they are in a much better state than the ones we have so we are 'recycling' them. The team turned up today to drop off the sleepers and will return next Monday to install them.

These new sleepers should improve the look of the track we have and also make it safer for the volunteers who have to walk on the sleepers. 

More pictures will be uploaded next week showing the changeover process.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Newsletter release

The latest edition of our newsletter "The Signal" is now available on our 'downloads' page. A very interesting read with all the latest info and an article on the pneumatic signalling system that was installed in the Salisbury area. This weekend is also our first Sunday of the month open day so pop along to that to see the developments for yourself!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Latest Developments.

Work continues at the signal box between open days and on Wednesday we had the first use of our new scaffolding tower. It has been assembled by the extension part of the signal box to allow our work force (Dave and Keith) to start stripping the paint from the box ready for it to be repainted. Unfortunately due to the British weather, they didn't get very far and soon had a stop because of the rain. Hopefully the scaffolding will make it easier for them to do the work and, more importantly, safer.

Don't forget we're open on Saturday and we also have our members social event going on but this will not effect our open day.

Don't forget to keep an eye out for the next edition of our newsletter coming early next week.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

A busy open day

In many ways, the 21st of May was a big event for us at Romsey Signal box. The first is that we handed out our 10,000th ticket (meaning we've had 10,000 visitors since we opened in October 1992) which was good news. Here is the lucky recipient of the 10,000th ticket with an enlarged ticket and the first of our new design tickets which are now being handed out to all visitors.

The more anticipated event was the passing of 60103, "Flying Scotsman" twice in one day. A video of the two passing has been published to YouTube where you can find other videos of Scotsman in the Romsey area. Here is the video and it will also be placed in our gallery in the near future, its surprising how poor the view of the track is from the signal box site.

Flying Scotsman also brought many additional visitors to the signal box and this meant we had 65 visitors which I believe is out highest number of visitors in one day since our reopening event last year.

We all had an enjoyable day despite the weather and it was good to see so many people taking an interest. We also went up to Romsey station and handed out a load of leaflets to all the people on the platform so hopefully we'll get more visitors in the coming months.

Next open day will be June 5th

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

interesting TV series

There's a very interesting series on channel 4 at the moment: Paul Merton's Secret Stations. This week Paul Merton visited Newton St Cyres which was a neighboring signal box to Cowley Bridge Junction, our model signal box. Worth a watch if you have the time. Follow the link below to catch up on the latest episodes.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Signal box progress

You may be thinking to yourselves, "whats been going on with blog, we haven't had an update in ages". Well, worry no more, here is the latest update with all the latest news!

As you may know, we are currently working on a new display to utilise three colour light signals that we have on site. They weren't in a good state so they're currently in the 'workshop' (lean-to) being renovated. The latest success is the completion of smallest of the three signals, the two aspect signal. 2 aspect means it can only display red and green (go and stop) unlike the three and four aspect signals which have amber and double amber states (respectively). This is believed to be an old underground signal and although in real life it wouldn't be seen in a sequence with 2 main line signals, it will do for us.

When we started on this signal it was in a pretty bad way and it has been completely stripped down and restored to working order. On Sunday we completed the restoration when we reassembled it and fitted the lenses. We still have to fit a new lamp holder (we're converting the lights to low voltage LED lamps) but we did simulate a light in the signal by using a torch. Its great to see something like this come together and it gives a real sense of achievement. There are just a few finishing touches and this will be ready to go on display (once we finish the other two signals).

The main body of the three aspect signal has been cleaned and given two coats of paint along with most of the other bits and pieces that need to be reattached. There are just two pieces of metalwork that need painting, but we need to drill out some of the bolt holes in these pieces that have bolts stuck in them from when we disassembled it. Once this is complete and we design a way to hold the new low voltage LED lamps, the signal can be reassembled.

The control circuit for this has already been completed and tested ready for action once the signals are all completed.

In the pavilion, Dave has continued to construct shelving around the TV area that allows us to store things under the TV and keep the various video players safe.

Keith has continued to repaint the outside of the pavilion to keep the wood sealed from water damage.

Dick has constructed a new ramp into the toilet area using slabs as the old wooden one was rotting away. This means it will last much longer and require less maintenance.

Neil's hard work and dedication to the garden's is paying off and all the bluebells and tulips are making the garden's look really good this year. He was out there again on Sunday weeding the lawns and at the end of the day gave me a bunch of rhubarb from our vegetable patch which is really staring to give us some produce.

On Sunday a committee meeting was held and many decisions were made around the plans for a new building. We have now (for the third time) changed the plans and hopefully finalised the location of the new building which will house visitor displays and also a secure member's area where they will be able to eat lunch and store personal belongings.  various other things were discussed and decisions were made. It involved a lot of standing around outside and we have now perfected our impressions of windmills!

The highlight of the day was the unexpected fly-over from a spitfire. There was obviously and event on at Broadlands as the aircraft was doing stunts and tricks. The pictures don't really do it justice.

Otherwise we had another successful open day and we're all looking forward to next month when Flying Scotsman will be passing through Romsey twice in one day. Why not combine going to see Scotsman with a visit to the Signal box and see what it would have been like to Signal Scotsman through the Romsey area and clear the signals so as not to hold the train up!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Recent works update

Its been a while since we last updated you with activities on site, so here we go with a mega post!

Allan and Adrian Action shot (the AA are on site)
The area behind the pavilion, where the willow tree once stood, is now being developed. The tree has been cut down and the stump has been ground away. It was only today that Adrian and Allan started to lay some slabs. We are not 100% sure of the plans for this site, but the slabs they have laid will keep the weeds down for now. They also spent the day burning bits of scrap wood (and the remains of the willow tree) so we've had a good tidy up, but there's still more to do before we've got our store shed sorted and the site tidy.

TV on new stand with various input devices
Dave has been working on the TV stand in the pavilion. We now have a new wired camera feed from the signal box (so disabled people can watch the demonstration) which is a big improvement from the wireless system we were using. We also have a new TV and because things were getting messy in the space below the TV, Dave decided it was time to re-build the stand. He has replaced the top and made a housing for the various TV inputs. This means that everything is kept tidy and we still have space to store more 'stuff'.

Keith has been busy in the Cowley bridge building gluing baton over the joins in ply wood walls and ceiling. This is replacing the masking tape that was originally used to cover the gaps, but just kept falling off. The new baton really finishes the room off and hopefully wont fall off. Once he had finished inside, he moved outside and has started to re-paint the outside of the pavilion. This was done recently, but a fairly low quality preservative was used, so its being 'topped up' with some more, higher quality, preservative. It does make the exterior look better.

Now that we are getting better weather, Keith, Dave and whoever else is available will soon move on to finish painting the final side of the signal box exterior. This will complete the redecoration of the signal box, but the sun is already starting to bleach the cream paint on the first face they repainted. This means that next summer (or the one after) they will be starting all over again and so it goes on...

2 Aspect signal stripped and ready for painting
Jamie, Gavin and various other members have been working on various signalling artefacts. The main things in the 'workshop' (lean-to) are the colour light signal (CLS) heads. These will make up our display on multi-aspect signalling to show how 4, 3 and 2 aspect CLS work together. These will run up along the fence line by the railway and should help explain what all the different colours mean.

Signal cowl ready for painting

The two aspect signal needed completely stripping down and restoring inside and out. This signal is currently in pieces on the work bench and is pretty much ready for priming and painting.

The three aspect signal only recently got brought into the workshop and is in a better state than the 2 aspect signal. The insides are in a much better state and do not need repainting. The outside was mostly OK, but because the cowls were in such a bad state and needed repainting, the whole exterior must therefore be repainted. Today I disassembled this signal and started to strip the paint off of the cowls. I have completed one, half done another one and the third is yet to be started.

Signal being dismantled
One signal dismantled, one ready for work
The four aspect signal was only brought into the workshop today and I've decided its in very much the same state as the three aspect, only needs outside restoration. I therefore started to remove the cowls and next time the lenses need removing before we can start to wire brush the metalwork. The lenses must be removed before we start this to prevent them being scratched or damaged.

All of the parts that have been removed are being stored in their own boxes just in case certain pieces fit better in certain lenses. The boxes are labeled with the signal they are from and the lens that it relates to. Any members wanting to help in this restoration project, we ask that you try to keep the items in the box they came from. Please ask one of our regular site team volunteers before embarking on work on these signals.
(P.S they are VERY heavy!!!)

As you can see, we've all been very busy and today the sun even decided to make an appearance. If you fancy helping out, get in contact with out site manager to find out when you can come along to help out. Don't forget we'll be open on Sunday, 12:00-16:00 so pop in to see the site and the work we're doing.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Model show!

Don't forget that while we're open this weekend, the Romsry model show will also be taking place. Be sure to stop in and see what's happening!

Monday, 29 February 2016

Romsey model show

Don't forget this weekend is the Romsey Model show! The signal box will be open for both days of the event (4/5th of March) so why not stroll down to the box from the show. We can provide tea and cake after your 'exhausting' journey and then give you talks/tours on site.

Hope to see you there!


Friday, 26 February 2016

Claim to Fame !!!

We were on Len Goodman’s Holiday of my lifetime today on BBC one!! Who saw us?? You can always catch it on BBC iPlayer. We’ll be open next weekend (4/th5th of March) so pop in and say hello!!

We’ll post a direct link to the program when it becomes available on Iplayer later today.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Renovation Success!!

For those of you who visited the Signal box 4 or 5 years ago, you may remember that we used to have a structure in the place where the Cowley Bridge building now stands. This was, at the time, our visitor center and it was an old 'meat waggon' that used to be used to transport meat (unsurprisingly) on the rail network. When it was no longer fit for use by us, the Watercress Line very kindly took it off our hands (and may have regretted doing this very quickly as it near fell apart in transit). However, a couple of years later and it has been superbly restored to working order and is now used in their demonstration freight trains (and it was out in their steam gala last weekend). Next time you pay a visit to the Mid Hants railway, keep a lookout for Container S 749.

It is believed to be one of the last (if not THE last) remaining containers of its kind so it is a unique piece of history with a sad background because we at the signal box did really look after it as we should have and we didn't have anything to put it on (we only had the container no wheels/wagon) so it was sat on the ground. I think we can all agree it looks much more at home on the rails. There will be a full article about this in the next edition of the signal.

P.s Don't forget we are open this Saturday, usual times

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

We're ready, are you??

Don't forget that Sunday is our second open day of the year! Yes, I say second, we now open on the third Saturday of the month as well as the first Sunday so we've already opened once in January. Romsey box will be open to let you have a go at being a signal man, the Buffer stops cafe will be open for cake and light refreshments, Cowley bridge will be operated in front of your very eyes and site talks/tours will be on offer. The site is also open for volunteers to come and carry out general restoration work if you should wish to help in a non public-facing role. If you're looking for something to do, as a volunteer or as a day trip, Romsey signal box is the place to go this Sunday

This open day  : Sunday 7th of February
Next open day : Saturday 20th of February 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

This week's progresses

This week, Dave Keith and myself were at the signal box and continued to get things done. 

Keith is continuing with the decorating in the Cowley bridge room.

Dave brought down some new stock for the cafe and logged it all in a 'stock check'. He then proceeded to install a shelf in the kitchen to display items for sale, e.g. Mugs, crisps and various other food products. Dave then went around with his labelling machine to display prices for the things on sale.

I started the day by attending to the searchlight signal. It had been causing problems to the computerised systems of Cowley Bridge miniature signal box. We purchased a backup battery power supply unit and this improved the situation but there was still interface getting through. I had a discussion with Dave last week, and we thought that putting a capacitor across the electormagnet of the signal might fix the problem, which it did. I then proceeded to add a remote control button to the signal so visitor can trigger the signal from a distance (veranda of the Cowley building). Dave then proceeded to cover it in labels so people knew what it did.

After lunch I went on to start to fix up the folding table in the lean to, but as Dave is the only person with a drill, I was using his and he had to leave, so I had to stop, but I will finish this later. With no power tools, I decided to finish off the bird boxes I started making a while back. All that needed doing was making a tight fitting lid. There is now only one left to finish and then they can be put up. I also fixed the vice to the new raised work bench.

There's always thing to do on site and progress can be slow. But we are getting thing done slowly but steadily.

The exciting news is that this weekend is the start of our twice a month opening. We shall be open on Saturday for the usual time period and the usually services will be available. Come along and see the progress.


Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Newsletter release

The latest edition of our newsletter "The Signal" is now out, it can be found on the downloads page of our website

Wednesday, 6 January 2016


Model railway with LED strip illumination down one side
Dave Keith and I were over the signal box today doing some work in various places on site. Keith has recently been spending a lot of time in the Cowley Bridge Building putting baton over the joins in the ply wood 'walls'/ceiling. This was originally done with masking tape, which was not really right for the job, so he is replacing this with wooden baton and then painting it in.

'Gas lamp' in the signal box
Dave spent the majority of today taking stock of the items for sale in the Buffer stops cafe, to get us ready for the new year. He later went on to add LED lighting to the small model layout, in the pavilion, which is used to explain the types of semaphore signals used on the railways. He also installed an amber LED in the model signal box to imitate a gas lamp and we plan to add some more buildings to the model and a bomb fire (so Dave can try out his LEDs that imitate a fire).

Raised work surface 
Tray storing pieces from the signal
I was going to spend my day working on the two aspect, ex-underground, colour light signal. However, after starting to remove the fixing and lenses on the signal, I soon got a pain in my back because the work bench is very low and I was constantly bending over (the bench was actual made of primary school tables and some plywood on top). I therefore decided my time would be better spent improving the work facilities than carrying on and possibly injuring myself. By the end of the day, a sturdy raised surface was erected and a vice attached so that members can carry out work safely. The tables are still present below the raised work surface, mainly for storage (especially longer items). I also plan to put a folding table further down the lean-to so that a volunteer can still work at a lower height, or have the full length table at a higher high. I then had a good tidy up and freed up some shelf space for people to put trays on to store bits and pieces off artifacts being restored (this was immediately put to use with the bits from the signal). I've also run in an extension lead so there is now power available on the work bench side of the 'workshop'.
Signal metalwork

After this i finished of working on the colour light signal, and it now ready for paint stripping and then repainting.

All in all, a successful day with much going on,