Signal Cabin

The history

The branch was re-signalled to the then LPTB standard of two-aspect long-range colour-light stop signals (red and green) plus fog repeaters (with a black ‘F’ on the yellow aspect), which could be switched on when required. To give the necessary stopping distances for steam hauled freight trains distant signals of the externally floodlit disc type showing a black fish-tailed bar on a yellow background were provided. A new brick and concrete signal cabin was built at Epping complete with a Westinghouse N2M power frame with 47 miniature levers and illuminated diagram. The cabin was coded ‘LW’ and it was commissioned ready for electric trains working through to Epping from 25 September 1949. The new cabin replaced the original Great Eastern Railway signal box, which had stood on the down platform of Epping station.

Epping leaver frame and diagram in 1949

Epping leaver frame and diagram in 1949

The 47-lever frame was necessary because freight traffic was still playing its part on the railway. Epping had a large goods yard and gasworks siding, in addition there was still a locomotive shed and carriage sidings to cater for the Epping-Ongar services and early morning services to London that were still steam hauled. The line to Ongar was finally electrified on 18 November 1957. Freight traffic continued until 18 April 1966.

The cabin in 1996 just before closure.

The cabin in 1996 just before closure.

By September 1994 there were only 21 operational levers on the frame and with the closure of the Ongar section this was reduced to 14 levers, although to operate the normal service only seven levers were needed. The Central Line was re-signalled to modern standards with all movements being controlled from Wood Lane Signal Control Centre. On Sunday 28, July 1996, the 01.02 departure was the last train to be controlled and the cabin was switched out. For a short while all points and signals at Epping were controlled by a temporary panel in Loughton signal cabin prior to the eventual transfer of operations to Wood Lane.

Regrettably the original frame was removed after closure however, the 83-lever frame from Hainault cabin was secured as a replacement. It was dismantled and the components were moved to Epping over the weekend of 21/22nd May 2005 and stored in the Relay Room.

Hainault Cabin c1949

Hainault Cabin c1949

Epping area diagram 1949. Harsig

Epping area diagram 1949. Harsig

The future

The Signal Cabin saw very little activity over the years so there’s much to do. During this period of inactivity unknown individuals have gained access (legally) and have removed heritage fixtures and fittings, illegally I may add. Further inspection found the high level toilet system smashed during the attempted theft of lead pipe, copper pipe, taps, draining board, electrical fittings have all gone. We also found the water supply capped off to various outlets and the gas supply turned off to the heaters and boiler although the gas heaters are now working again and the boiler awaiting the attention of a fitter.

First and foremost we must tackle the leaky roof to prevent serious damage occuring, once this has been done our attention can then turn to the complete internal decoration of the ‘operating floor’ where the Lever Frame will be rebuilt, the Lobby and AET room will follow later.

The Lever Frame we recovered from Hainault is currently stored in the Relay Room as a kit of parts, there is enough there for 43 Lever Frame to be rebuilt with spares. It’s a heavy piece of kit that has to be taken upstairs although this can be done as and when required. Hainault Frame was ‘N’ and Epping ‘N2M’ Westinghouse style, the latter having the capability of being remotely operated by air possibly from Loughton Cabin via a Push Button panel but this never happened. To assist in the rebuild a full set of locking diagrams has been obtained from Westinghouse.

There are various options as to how the rebuilt Frame should function, computer assisted simulator, model layout etc. only when we have the expertise on board can a final decision be made but whatever happens in the future Epping Signal Cabin will have a Lever Frame.

It is planned to create a museum of LT signaling and other artefacts in the Relay Room, space will be available to display guest model railways on future Open Days.

If you have the expertise we so need in rebuilding the Frame or would like to help with the Cabin in general please use our details on the Contact page.

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