Coton Park Sidings
If ever a signal box deserved its own page on this website it is the enigma which is Coton Park. The reason this location is so special is that it has proved so elusive, seemingly managing to dodge the lens of any camera for its entire existence. Of course there are many other signal boxes in the Derby and Burton area for which a decent image has yet to turn up, but the point about Coton Park is that it survived as late as 1964. Granted, its location didn't lend itself to visiting on foot and there was no regular passenger service along the Burton - Leicester line by that time. Nevertheless, it all adds up to make Coton Park that little bit special.
As a colliery, there seems little doubt that Coton Park was not the most productive, being closed several times in its history. The site was jointly used as a clay put with associated brick kilns, but even that seems to have become worked out by the time of the 1925 OS map. The site has also been used as a coal washery and concentration depot with stacking ground.
28OCT1872: MT6 191/12 Plan dated Oct 28 1872 signed by P. Prince; “Proposed Junction for Coton Park and Linton Colliery” shows a 10’ x 10’ “elevated box” on the up side, with trailing crossover and connections on down side. Plan endorsed “the points and signal are interlocked”.
Closed nights and Su (1877).
04JAN1882: MT6 298/4 Plan dated 4 JAN 1882, with 10’ 10’ box in same position as 1872, similar layout with additional siding son down side.
02DEC1882: MR Notice 27NOV1882 (RFBMCT 05648) At 4.0 p.m. on Saturday next, December 2nd  The Coton Park Sidings Signal Box will be closed as an intermediate block telegraph signal post. The points leading to and from the up main line will be spiked, and traffic to and from the sidings will be worked by down trains. A porter from Gresley will accompany each train having to stop at the Sidings. _No train or engine must be shunted into the sidings to allow another train or engine to pass.
22DEC1884: MR Weekly Notice (R.Newman Collection). The Signal Box will be reopened as an Intermediate Block Telegraph Signal Post and the points leading to and from the Up Main Line and the signals applicable to that line will be brought into use. The Signal Box will be closed each night and on Sundays. 16JAN1899: Midland Railway weekly notice week ending 21JAN1899, On and after 16JAN1899; This Signal Box will only be open for trains booked to stop for traffic purposes.
19NOV1899: Midland Railway weekly notice for week ending November 25th, 1899 Sunday next, November 19th  8.0 a.m. This Signal Box and the signals worked there from will be removed and dispensed with. _The connection between the Coton Park Sidings and the down main line will be worked by Guards and Shunters from a stage, in accordance with the instructions on page 204 of No. 20 Appendix to the Working Time Table. _The signals, which will also be worked by Guards and Shunters from a stage, will be:- _A distant signal and a home signal, on the down side of the line, to regulate the running of trains and engines on the down main line; _A ground disc signal to regulate the running of trains and engines from the Coton Park Sidings on to the down main line. _A train or engine must not be shunted into the Coton Park Sidings for another train or engine to pass.
02SEP1905: MT6 1400/2 Plan dated 2 SEP 1905 shows a stage on the down side controlling the previously existing trailing connection (no connections to up line at this time) with home & distant signal standing normally off. Plan endorsed “All connections and signals to be removed”.
11SEP1905: Midland Railway weekly notice for week commencing September 16th 1905 Monday, September 11th  commencing at 6.0 a.m. the connection between the sidings and the down main line and the signals worked by Guards and Shunters from a stage will be removed and dispensed with.
01MAY1924: RAIL418/173 LMS Traffic Committee Report May 1924. Cost of work over £500 completed: Siding accommodation for Moira Colliery Co.'s Coton Park Colliery. Tfc Ctte Minute 87 26/4/23. Est £7,150, Expenditure £8,499. Excess is due to an additional siding which was authorised by the minute, the cost of which was not in the minute. This siding was provided in accordance with an arrangement made between the General Manager and the colliery proprietors. 03OCT1924: RAIL418/174 LMS Report on Progress of New Works and Maintenance 3rd October 1924 Award - Gresley. (Dwarf signal damaged, 3rd October , Underman W.Thacker) (Midland Division) _When proceeding to his work at Swadlincote Junction shortly after 7. o'clock on the morning of October 3rd, Underman W. Thacker noticed that a dwarf signal situated in the six-foot and controlling the crossover road at the Gresley end of Coton Park, was displaced and fouling the Down Main Line. _This dwarf signal had apparently been caught by some passing train, and Thacker at once pulled it clear and into position. _It is recommended this man be awarded the sum of 10/- d, for his vigilance. [This would be ‘21’ signal].
23OCT1924: MT29 Report of Col J.W.Pringle. “New sidings have been laid for the Moira Colliery Company on the south (down) side of the railway between Gresley Station and Swadlincote Junction. At the north end of these sidings there is a new trailing connection with the down line. At the north end there is a trailing crossover between the main road, to which single slip points have been added, providing a through crossing from the sidings to the up line. _These connections are worked from a new signal box, Coton Park, which is situated on the north-east side of the railway at a distance of 230 yards from the new connection. The necessary up and down running signals for this additional block post have been provided, as well as backing, etc. signals for controlling approach to and exit from the new sidings. _Coton Park signal box contains a frame with 29 working and one spare levers. The interlocking and the general arrangements are satisfactory.”
Open as required for traffic purposes (1924)
27FEB1935: LMS Traffic Committee RA I418/81 27th February, 1935 GRESLEY (MID) -- Between Burton & Leicester, Proposed settlement of Moira Colliery Company's financial liability to L.M.S. Company under Agreement for siding accommodation at Coton Park Colliery. _The Chief Commercial Manager reported that under the authority of Traffic Committee Minute No. 87, dated 26th April 1923, siding accommodation was provided to serve the Moira Colliery Company's Coton Park Colliery, the actual expenditure incurred amounting to £8,498. 15s. 8d. An Agreement was concluded with the firm whereby amongst other things they undertook to pay in certain events, varying sums of money being percentage charges on the cost of constructing different portions of the sidings laid In by the Railway Company. _Coal was first turned at the pit in March 1925 but operations ceased on the 31st July 1928. It was at first thought this stoppage would only be of a temporary character but as there Is no prospect of the pit being brought into production in the near future, an account was rendered against the Moira Colliery Company according to our then interpretation of the Agreement, amounting to £5,145. 17. 8d. _Upon the presentation of this account the Colliery Company disputed the manner in which it had been prepared. The discussions which have taken place with the firm on the provisions of the Agreement have disclosed very decided differences of interpretation and the Solicitor advises that if the Colliery Company gave the notice which they are entitled to do under a certain clause a correct Interpretation of the indebtedness of the Colliery Company would be £2,518. _The Colliery Company have made an offer to settle for £2,500 and having regard to all the circumstances it was strongly recommended that this offer be accepted in full settlement of the Colliery Company’s commitments under the Agreement. _Approved and Ordered accordingly.
14MAY1939: LMS Notice 14 May 1939 Coton Park Signal Box, sidings and crossover road abolished.
10SEP1944: Reopened – Gough
23MAR1994: MT29 report. 29th March 1949. “I have the honour to report for the information of te Minister of Transport that I inspected on 3rd March 1949 the new works at Gresley (Coton Park) on the line from Burton-on-Trent to Leicester in the London Midland Region, British Railways. I was assisted by Colonel R.J.Walker. _With reference to the plan submitted, a group of sidings was constructed in 1944 on the South or Up side of the line on behalf of the Ministry of Works, to serve an open cast coal washing plant of the Coton Park Old Colliery. Access is by trailing connections in the Up and Down lines, with spur traps, at the eastern and western ends of the sidings layout respectively; at the former end there is also a single slip which provides a trailing crossover. All the new point and crossing work in the running lines is of 95 lbs. R.B.S. material in clean stone ballast, and credit is due to the permanent way staff for the excellent standard of maintenance. Outwards coal traffic from these sidings amounts to about 50 wagon loads daily. _The signalling arrangements are shown by the plan. There is a new centrally placed signal box with a frame of 19 working levers, including 2 detonator placers and 6 spares; a track circuit has been provided in rear of the Down Starting signal, which is some distance from the box. The locking and controls are correct, all necessary arms and lights are repeated, and the signalman had no comments. _I recommend approval to these works, which appeared to be well constructed and in very good order.” G.R.S. Wilson Lieut. Colonel.
'As Required' (1945, 1950, 1952)).
Not open full time by 1956 - SA1956.
As required weekdays 0800 - 1600 (1959).
23AUG1964: closed - Gough
So that is all I know about this mystery signal box. From the chronology it seems there may have been four separate structures bearing the name over the years. The first, (1872 – 1882) was almost certainly a 10' square MR Type 1 signal box, whereas the second structure (1884 – 1899) may have simply been a stage. We know from the LMS Signal Box register which is part of the "Dunbar Collection" in the Midland Railway Study Centre that the box which opened on 22JUL1923 was 22' x 11'6" x 10' — almost certainly a MR Type 4D at that date. There remains a mystery as to whether the box which was abolished on 14MAY1939 was left in situ to be reopened on 10SEP1944, or was a new box built?
I would of course be delighted to hear from anyone with any information to share about this corner of Derbyshire signalling history. Maybe your grandfather worked there and took his Box Brownie to work one day, creating a snapshot which survives in your family album? I can hope!
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Dave Harris, Willington, Derby, UK.
Page last updated: Sunday, 8 March 2020