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L&B receives prestigious signalling award

Pete Waterman OBE presents L&BR with 2010 Award

At the 2010 National Railway Heritage Awards held at Merchant Taylors’ Hall in London on Wednesday 1st December, Trust Chairman Peter Miles and Managing Director Keith Vingoe received on behalf of the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway, the Invensys Signalling Award for the best restored signalling installation.

Congratulations to all those involved in the project. The National Heritage Railway Awards are made by the only awards body dedicated to encouraging and rewarding best practice in the restoration and continued upkeep of our rich heritage of railway and tramway buildings and structures."

This plaque was unveiled at Woody Bay at the Vintage Weekend

ABOUT THE SIGNALLING INSTALLATION AT WOODY BAY STATION

Taking many years and commencing before any track was laid, the project has involved L&B volunteers from all over the UK including those who are also active members of other Heritage Railways such as the Talyllyn and Isle of Wight. This project could not have been completed without the support of the many people with varied backgrounds, as well as the support of other heritage groups, and as such is surely a perfect example of what is possible given the cooperation of the heritage railway movement as a whole.

In those far off days when Woody Bay Station was a recent purchase, Murray Dods and the small band from the Talyllyn Railway started planning the installation of the lever frame in what was then - courtesy of the Somerset L&B Support Group - the recently restored L&B Signal Cabin. The frame sourced by Murray came from Halwill Junction and is a standard SR knee frame and is the same type as the one installed at Bratton Fleming in 1932.

The TR gang, these days comprises Murray Dods, Geoff Loynes, Rob Prosser and Tim Wilkinson, but has over time included others from the TR - most notably the former TR electrical/S&T engineer Ian Dods and the current TR electrical/S&T engineer Steve Thorpe who together with Rob Prosser were involved in the locking and electrical installation works associated with the frame.

In total some 14 or 15 TR volunteers have been involved with this and other L&B projects over the years.

Meanwhile, L&BR founder member Paul Gower was hatching plans for the erection of the Southern Railway style rail-built signal posts and had discovered a redundant rail-built signal post on the Croydon Tramlink. Recruiting Surrey Group's Phil Rawstron and Jim Allen, Paul set about obtaining it for the L&B.

Paul and Phil also obtained a stack of signalling equipment from the Bluebell Railway including rollers for the round point rodding used by the L&B. The actual point rodding and fittings came via L&S Fire (PGs brother-in-law’s firm) and the cranks and compensators gifted from the Lavender Line, based at Isfield Station, near Uckfield East Sussex.

By the summer of 2002 Paul had started to construct and erect the up starter and followed this with the much taller down home.

About 2007, the S&T team was augmented by Rob Pym, Dick Gunn and his daughter Sarah – all Network Rail signalling employees - who got to grips with various bits of the signalling installation working with the TR team when they spare what time they could at Woody Bay with Rob Prosser working on the interlocking – a science in itself.

The first passenger train to come into the Down Platform signalled by the Down Home was the Volunteers Train run at the closure of the 2008 Gala in memory of Surrey Group Volunteer Pete Cannon who had passed away on the eve of that gala.

Over the following winter the TR, the Isle of Wight and the Dorset and Devon Groups installed the rodding, trackwork and pointwork at the Lynton end of the station.

The final piece of the signalling jigsaw was the Surrey Support Group's sponsorship of a rather large lump of wood required for the down starter signal post. The SSG using one of their far-famed working weeks to erect the wooden monolith.

Over the next few months Dick Gunn and anyone available “decorated” the post. Jim Price produced a wooden signal arm and Dick fabricated a finial from various oddments all covered with fibreglass. Finally Robin Edwards and Nigel Thompson gave it a coat of paint.

POSTSCRIPT

The new toilets, the refurbished kitchen and the Surrey Group sponsored Water Tank all played a part in the September Gala but it was this signalling installation that controlled all of the trains over that weekend.

Mention must also be made of Alistair Hall who was not only involved with various aspects of the associated trackwork, but actually suggested we should enter the project for the NHRA Invensys Signalling Award.

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