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Horsted Keynes Re-Signalling
Archive of Progress 1 (1997-2000)

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Work Progress

The first phase started during the winter of 1997/8 with a minor change to the layout at the north end of the station. The point leading from number one road to the up sidings was damaged a while ago and, together with some of the pointwork in the sidings, was just about the first work to be done on the Permanent Way. The point leading to the Dock at the south end of the station was moved from its position in number three road to the north end of number one road where it forms the new entry to the sidings on the up side of the line. The old, damaged, point had been a facing point for up movements through the platform road, but the newly installed one is a trailing point. For the present this point is hand operated by a point lever and is only used for shunting movements.

During 1998 much preparatory work was carried out. The obvious signs were the new signal posts that sprouted north of the station, as yet to be adorned with their "boards", and the big new bracket to the south. What the casual observer did not see was the vast amount of new cabling installed, ready for connection to the signals, points and 'box.

The more apparent work was started. The wires and rodding for the signals and points were disconnected on 5th January, leaving the signalbox with just the staff/token instruments and telephones with which to control traffic. Safety, always the number one priority, is being maintained thoughout the period of the box's disconnection with all movements into, through and out of the station area under the sole control of the duty signalman who, when two trains or more are operating, has a hand-signalman to assist him.

Hand Signalling Left: Signalman Chris Majer exhibits a yellow flag to denote proceed with caution as Stepney arrives at Horsted Keynes inner home signal with the two Chesham coaches on Sunday, 14th February 1999.

Whilst work is in progress another, temporary, ground frame has been installed at the south end of the station. This controls the point dividing what are now called Nº2/3 and Nº4 roads (the old 19B), a lock for this point when entering Nº4 road and the platform starter south from Nº3 road.

During the last week of February the Permanent Way work began in earnest, showing how the re-modelled south end trackwork would appear. The old dock road, taken up two winters previously when the point was moved to the north of the station, is being re-instated but not branching off the running line as before but off the down sidings.

Doorway The keen observer will see that there has been some work done to the north end of the ground floor of the signalbox. The brickwork needed some remedial work and, at the same time, the doorway has been moved about 18 inches towards the rear of the box. This is because the bottom of the levers in the re-installed frame when "normal" in the frame would, by the doorway, be a dangerous hazard for anyone venturing inside. The work has been excellently carried out by an outside contractor and, once a little weathered, will show no sign of the alteration having been made. The lintel over the door, the stone step (moved exactly as it was, crack and all!) and most of the original bricks were re-used. The cost of this work, some £870 for labour (the materials were supplied by the railway) was met from the proceeds of the Football Competitions run to raise funds for the work now taking place on the signalbox and signalling.

The end of May saw the re-instatement of the up outer home, down home and the down advanced starter signals. These re-instated signals are worked by panel switches in Horsted signalbox but will, eventually, be worked from the lever frame once again.

10th July saw two point machines installed, one on the points (23A) south of platforms three and four, the turnout for the down sidings, and one on the first points (25) inside the sidings. These are not yet connected to the 'box but as they are operated (by winding) in the same manner as if they were connected, and as they incorporate a facing point lock, we were once again able to dispatch trains south from what are now platforms four and five. Until the points are connected to the 'box they will still need to be kept clipped and padlocked.

The bracket for the new Inner Home signal was erected back in 1998. This fine structure is the work of the Alf Brown gang but suffered during the time between erection and completion from the effects of the smoke from passing engines and the weather causing pivot pins to seize but these are now kept free simply by dint of the signal being in regular use. The smoke damage was to the electrical detection equipment and was more serious as it cannot be avoided by simple use of the signal, so to endeavour to prevent this happening again, a smoke shield has been fitted to the underside of the bracket. The new Inner Home no longer carries a Distant Arm as this has been re-located to the Outer Home Signal. The signal has a new Route Indicator, a great improvement of the old one which really epitomised the expression "life expired"! When the new Inner Home Signal was brought into use the lines into and through the station were re-named. Nº1 road became Nº2 road, Nº2 road became Nº3 road and Nº3 road became Nº4 road, with a corresponding increase in platform numbers so that Nº4 road is now flanked by platforms Nº4 and Nº5.

19th September was a landmark day in the re-signalling of Horsted Keynes. During the three days 17th to 19th the old timbers supporting the lever frame in the 'box were removed and replaced with new ones. This exercise marked the end of the taking apart of the old installation - all work done from this day forward is constructive for the new installation.

29th September 1999 saw the long-awaited introduction to traffic of the new Inner Home signal and Route Indicator. A last-minute hitch with the Route Indicator was resolved when a blown fuse was replaced just in the nick of time, resulting in the "4" only being revealed as the train approached! The following day, 30th September, saw no such problems and the Signal was off, with the Route Indicator clearly announcing "4", well before the arrival of the first train

First train signalled past new inner home 9F approaches new inner home

In the picture on the left, SECR C Class, Nº 592, (the first loco not to be hand signalled into Horsted Keynes station since 4th January), approaches with the 11.00am ex-Sheffield Park. On the right is the following day's first train, this time hauled by BR Class 9F, 92240.

The Permanent Way work that was due to commence on 4 October after the cessation of daily running had to be put back until November due to the filming on the line of "The Railway Children". Fortunately the fine weather that we enjoyed in October lasted into November as well so the work wasn't held up. During the first week the P Way gang had possession of the line the point (23B) by the south ground frame was lifted, the ballast dug out and new drainage put in prior to re-positioning of the point. The second week saw their attention turn to the next point, 22B. This point has been the source of problems for many years, largely due to a flood at the south end of the station which left a lot of mud in the ballast. Despite regular packing (a bit like putting out a fire with thimbles of water) the point has continued to settle which caused, amongst other things, the signamen considerable difficulty at times when changing the point as the rails were bearing down on the point rodding. When the timbers of the old point were lifted it could be seen that they were sitting on a bed of 100% Sussex Clay with not one piece of ballast in sight! The clay was dug out to a depth of some 18 inches, new ballast laid and a new point installed. The track towards the platforms was also lifted, ready for re-ballasting and re-laying, in the case of Nº2 road on a slightly different alignment. The third and final week saw the beginning of the Ardingly point being installed, pointing the way west for the future! This point will, eventually, form one half of a crossover with the other half leading to the new platform Nº1. The tracks into Nº2 and Nº3 platforms were replaced ready for the resumption of the normal timetable on 27 November. Point machines have been installed on all the running points south of the station although the south groundframe will continue to operate the point (23B) there for several more months.

First Quarter 2000
One result of the new point being installed immediately south of platform Nº2 was that, as it was a few yards further north than the old one, the signal (old Nº9) controlling the exit from the platform road was a few feet beyond the start of the point which was not a good situation! HK No9 Sunday 2 January saw the S & T gang installing a temporary replacement signal at the end of the platform and removing the original. Eventually a brand new three-arm bracket signal is planned for this location, controlling exit from Nº1 platform to the Ardingly line and exits from Nº2 platform to both the Ardingly and Sheffield Park lines.

Right: Two ways to stop! The temporary situation that existed for a couple of hours whilst the new signal (right of picture) was being installed. The toe of the point (and the point machine) can be seen to be just inside the old signal.
Photo © Chris Majer

The temporary signal is a SR metal arm on a lattice LBSCR post which replaced a wooden LBSCR arm on a tapered wooden LBSCR post. This post was quite rotten below ground level so will be reduced in height by about 4 feet and used to support the shunting bell when it is re-instated in Horsted Keynes down yard.

For the last two weeks of March and the first week of April the P Way Gang and the S & T moved in and took possession of the station midweek. During this time they installed the new crossover between Nº2 and Nº3 roads just to the north of the station. The northern point of this crossover is, in fact, a tandem point also providing access to and from Nº1 road.

HK North Crossover HK North Crossover

Left. The tandem point looking south down Nº 2 road. Right. The new crossover looking north up Nº 3 road.

The point to the north of this, leading to the up yard, had some of its rails replaced as they had originally been part of a left hand point and had been re-aligned to be used in the right hand point that used to lead into the Dock siding (before the point was moved to the up yard). These rails have now been positioned to the south of the station where they will form part of the (left hand) point leading from the Ardingly line into Nº1 and Nº2 roads.

Ardingly Point

Left. The rails from north of the station can be seen on the right of the picture, above the stock of sleepers. In the left foreground are the beginnings of the point from Nº2 road to the Ardingly line. The rails sitting in the four foot just above it will form part of the point from the Ardingly line

This point is being built by Graham Ward's third Sunday of the month P Way gang.

The work-in-hand is a massive task overall, with no firm date yet for the likely re-commissioning of the signalbox's lever frame.

Another problem we now face is that we are reversing the work of the LBSCR and are rebuilding the canopy on number one platform, thus reducing the view of the station area from the signalbox. To combat this the whole station area will have track circuits installed so that both the signalman and the locking system will always know when and where a track is occupied.

Second Quarter 2000

After the flurry of activity during March things quietened down a bit and attention was turned to some much-needed attention to the track to the north of the station. By the beginning of June, however, the point at the south of Nº2 road was built (previously it was just a trap point protecting the line south) and the frog for the point from the Ardingly line was in place. Inside the Signalbox there are several signs of how the work is proceeding with most of the levers back in situ, although still in primer. Dave Phillips of the S & T has done a magnificent job of removing all the previous layers of paint and reducing the levers to bare metal, re-furbishing all their fittings, re-assembling and priming all forty of them. No small task!

HK Levers

Right: The levers start to return to the box! For the present they are in primer until the time comes to paint them their final colours - Red for Home Signals, Yellow for Caution (Distant) Signals, Black for Points, Blue for Locks and Brown for Releases.

Third Quarter 2000

Ardingly Point

July has seen a lot accomplished. First the point that will take Ardingly traffic into either Nº1 or Nº2 roads was completed and then, on 28th July, just in time for the Steam Fair, the buffers at the south end of Nº1 road were removed and this line was connected to the track from the Ardingly direction (at present just a short spur). So, for the first time in at least 65 years it is possible to enter the platform from, and leave towards, the south! New drains are being installed alongside the new Ardingly line which hopefully will help to keep the track in good condition for many years to come. The "old" Ardingly spur, used for storing rolling stock that is awaiting its turn for restoration, has been cut and the line slewed over. The Ardingly end will mate up with the new line from the station and the Horsted end has moved a little to the east so that it can be used as a siding still. This will, hopefully, mean we can keep the "new" line free of stored rolling stock so that it can be used, for example, by Clive Groome's Footplate Days and Ways. This means his footplate experience customers would have a good run from north of the station to some way south of it without the need to come out into the main platform area.

Temporary shunt signal

By the 12th August several more changes came into use. The south groundframe was de-commissioned on Wednesday, 9th August on which date the point that had been controlled by the groundframe (23B) and the Nº3 road down platform starter became controlled directly from the Signalbox along with the other half of the crossover, point 23A and the next day the disconnected shunt signal controlling the exit from the down yard was replaced by a temporary position light signal, also worked directly from the 'box. See Barry Coward's photo, Right. So, in a couple of days Horsted signalling took a leap from the 19th Century to the 21st Century with power operated points, some track circuits and colour light signalling!

The following day the connection was made between the south end of Nº1 road and the old Ardingly siding making Horsted look a proper junction once more - and with the illusion of double track towards Ardingly. It was all rather a surprise to the weekend station staff when they arrived on Saturday, especially when the points south of Nº4 road kept changing. Each time the points were set for the down yard they expected a trolley to appear!

Elevated Shunt Signal 15A Alf Brown Group with their new signal

To the north of the station a new signal post has sprouted - see photos from Martin Oakley: Left: the new signal, Right: with the Alf Brown Gang. This is an elevated shunt signal, some nine feet above the ground. It will make sighting of the signal easier as the siding at that point curves round a rising bank and was inspired by a similar signal that used to exist at Tunbridge Wells. This signal, once again, is the work of the Alf Brown Gang's "Signals from Scrap Rails Company".

Fourth Quarter 2000

After the visible work of the summer and autumn not too much was apparent in the closing months of the year although much was done "behind the scenes". Work continued with the installation of wiring for the track circuits & etc. whilst inside the Signalbox the Block Shelf for the instruments was returned to its rightful place. Then the bracket signal at the south end of Nº4 road was removed and, temporarily, replaced with a stop signal and a SR Disc shunt signal, both non-working. The week before Christmas saw Nº22 points (from Nº2 road south to Nº3 road) powered up so that they can be controlled directly from the Signalbox. With the prospect of wet 'n' windy weather that is a most popular move as far as all the Signalmen are concerned, especially now the embankment slip south of Kingscote means more use of all the roads at Horsted Keynes!

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The current resignalling progress page - 2001-3 archive - 2004 archive

The page showing the changes to the track layout at Horsted Keynes over the years may be of interest.
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