Friday 3 Oct 2003
SPELBROOK – IT’S “WHEELY” THE END OF THE BOX
- Region & Route:
On Saturday 18 October 2003 the road over Spelbrook railway crossing will close for 10 days to enable Network Rail to complete its £184 million West Anglia Route Modernisation project.
Spellbrook Lane East, which leads from the A1184 (Cambridge Road) via Dell Lane to the A1060, will close at 01.00 on Saturday 18 October, reopen for the day on Saturday 25 October then fully reopen at 04.00 on Wednesday 29 October. A local diversionary route will be sign posted during the road closures.
The road is only a temporary closure, whereas Spelbrook signal box will be closing for good. The signalling system on the West Anglia route out of Liverpool Street has reached the end of its life. The equipment is decades old and some of the signal boxes are more than a hundred years old. This massive investment into the signalling systems will ensure its reliability and safety for years to come. To bring the system into the 21st century, the signalling and level crossings will all be operated from Liverpool Street Control Centre.
Mark Phillips, Network Rail Regional Director said: “Network Rail has invested millions of pounds into this route and passengers will begin to see the benefits in a more reliable, better performing railway. It is sad to see boxes like Spelbrook close, especially as it is the last of its kind in East Anglia, but we have to move with the times. Passengers deserve a better performing railway and Network Rail is committed to delivering just that.”
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Spellbrook – 2
Spelbrook signal box opened in 1898. It operates the signalling systems between Harlow Mill and Bishop’s Stortford and also operates a level crossing gate. The way in which the gate opens and closes is unique as the signalman has to spin a custom-made wheel, which operates the gate’s movements. Back in the 1850s Spelbrook was the end of the line, with a station, sidings and turntable. In 1898 a ‘ship-type’ wheel mechanism was installed to operate four wooden gates. This lasted until the 1950s when an alternative wheel was fitted. In the 1960s, four gates changed to two and a decade later the current wheel was installed.
Due to its importance in East Anglia’s railway history, Spelbrook Signal box and its equipment will be donated to Mangapps Railway Museum. The museum will disassemble the box and move it to its 400 acre farm in Burnham On Crouch, Essex.
John Jolly, owner, Mangapps Railway Museum said:
“We are delighted that Network Rail has donated this box and its equipment to us. It will be a labour of love to restore it to its former glory, but it will be a pleasure to see this unique box remain in East Anglia and continue to operate.”
If you would like to visit the box while it is still operational, please contact Jenny Sacre on 020 7904 4043, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to the Bishop’s Stortford Railway Preservation Society for the historical information on Spellbrook.
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