Signal Panel – First Steps

There is a large variety of signals at Leicester Central, i’m not a signalling expert but i’ve looked at hundreds of photos in books, and online, so i’ve identified most, if not all of them. Mostly they are BR / LNER Semaphore signals. Pretty commonplace but with various posts, elaborate latticework (LNER?), concrete and standard BR metal.

However there are some interesting multiple aspect signals too in three categories. 1) Standard 3 Aspect Signals No’s 47 & 48 on  Bay 1 and Bay 2 (northern end). Searchlight signals on the Up Main and Down Main platforms (signals 11 & 50) and a Westinghouse multiple aspect signal on Bay 3 (southern end). This Westinghouse displays (I think) four aspects with the lower signal giving red, yellow and green and the upper lamp showing yellow only. I’m not 100% sure. I stand to be corrected. (this has subsequently been confirmed by Pete Garrard who has also sent me a treasure trove of detailed images which I shall post online here by the end of Jan 2024)

The station was covered by two signal boxes, North and South. Towards London the next box is Leicester Goods North and towards Nottingham Abbey Road was the next box.

Photo Credit: Nigel Tout (link in text)

A view in 1969 of the northern end of the station with (from left to right) signals 50 (searchlight), 48 and 47 (3 aspect). Bays 2 & 1 have been lifted already. The DMU is shuttling between  Rugby and Nottingham (Arkwright Street) with Victoria already closed.

The photo is credited to Nigel Tout who has generously allowed me to reproduce his photos here. His website was incredibly useful in gathering information. This is the LINK

This gantry was  on the Up line into the station from the north. From left to right the signals   controlled entry to i) Up Goods ii) Up Passenger Loop iii) Up Main iv) Bay 1 and v) Bay 2. Photo  source not known.

The southern gantry protected the station from the south. Two Bays and the Down Main, Down Passenger Loop and the Down Goods. Photo source unknown.

This is signal 50 which is a searchlight. Multiple Aspects from the one lamp. It was to be found at the end of the Down Main platform (northern end).

Here is a view of the same searchlight signal next to a standard 3 aspect signal (signals 50 & 48, Down Main and Bay 2).

At the southern end of the station the Up Main and Bay 3 had multiple aspect signals. To the best of my knowledge the lower lamp  could display various aspects whereas the top lamp only displayed one. This image is a cropped image from Colin Walker’s book about the Great Central of which I have two and are recommended  reading. Mainline Lament and Great Central Twilight.

Signals 11 & 13

The two images of signal  11   Show  what looks like a red  and a yellow on the lower lamp. Both images are screen prints from a video. It’s now been confirmed that the upper lamp would have shown a yellow aspect creating a double yellow. Interestingly signal 11 had the the oval backplate cut on the left side, presumably for clearance from the line.


Reproducing a Signal Box Panel for the layout

The aim from the start of the build was to have as prototypical a railway as possible. I’ve always wanted a signal box panel that show occupancy and the signal and point numbers. Signal Aspects won’t be shown on the diagram itself although i’m still thinking whether to show them somehow using LEDs somehow.  Jury’s out on this.

I’ll also have a representation of the lever frame using the Cobalt levers which will operate the points and signals manually, for the South box at least. I’ve omitted the facing point locks on the diagram.

The other main difference from reality is that both the North and South boxes have been combined. So the signal gantries at both ends show the full signals, not just the semaphores that would have been operated from that box.

The diagram below is from the Great Central Railway Museum at Loughborough.

Next Steps

I’ve recently had the MSE components delivered to build the semaphores i’ll need for the layout. I have never built etched kits before, let alone built working signals. So this one will be a steep learning curve. I’m not afraid of the soldering iron though. So that’s all I have in my favour.

Getting these  to operate will also be an uphill learning curve. I will be using DCC control through Signatrak  servo controllers and servo motors. They will be controlled from train controller software when running automatically.  However they’ll be manually controlled from the Cobalt Lever frames.

These Berko signals,  whilst not perfect, are a good starting point for the two 3 aspect signals for Bays 1 & 2.

I have sourced some searchlights signals from the US and also the heads for the Westinghouse  signals 11 & 13.

More on this to come.