THIS WEEK IN 1970: Time runs out on the lonely reign of a signal box man

Three little pieces of Victorian England were to be demolished along the section of railway between Portsmouth and Petersfield.

Tuesday, 16th January 2018, 6:00 am
Signal box - The bleak and isolated siting of the Idsworth signal box illustrates the loneliness of the signalman's lot

Signal boxes at Rowlands Castle, Idsworth and Buriton sidings were to be replaces by an automatic signalling system.

Six signalmen were being made redundant, three of them were retiring and the others were moving to other railway jobs.

They said they would miss their cosy oases of warmth and light, with their pot-bellied stoves, massive iron levers and brass ware, redolent of the age of steam.

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Cedric Attrill had been at the Buriton signal box for the previous 16 years and felt sorry about leaving it.

He said: ‘It’s a lonely life, but you get some amusing times.

‘I have been king of my own domain and that’s what a signalman likes about his job,’ he added.

One of the retiring signalmen, James Hawkins, who had been at the Rowlands Castle box for 10 years, was believed to be one of the longest serving railwaymen in the area.

All of the outdated equipment in the boxes – including some rarities which would have delighted railway enthusiasts – were to be stripped and stored by BR prior to sale.