DERBY AREA SIGNALLING
The Wirksworth Branch
A Signalling Timeline
The following extracts and summaries from source materials such as Inspector’s Reports and Midland Railway Weekly Notices give an insight into the development of this branch.
Opening of and Single Line method of working - Wirksworth Branch. First letter from M.R. dated Aug 21st, 1867 giving one calendar month notice of intention to open the line for the public conveyance of passengers. Second letter dated September 13th, 1867 giving ten days notice of same.
Minute dated 26th Sept. 1867, Station Hotel, Derby: "I have this day inspected a section of the Midland Railway from Duffield (where the new portion joins the main line) to Wirksworth. _The new line is 8m 29ch long - it is a single line with sidings. Land has been enclosed for a double line and a great part of the works have been completed for a second line of rails. The gauge is at 8~. The permanent way consists of double headed rail, which is laid in 20ft lengths. It is ???ed and fixed with wooden keys in cast iron chairs that weigh 34lbs each - the keys are driven inside. The chairs are spiked to the sleepers laid transversely. The sleepers are about 3ft apart, except those next to the joints of the rails, which are only 2ft apart. The sleepers are 9ft long, 10in x 5ins. The line is ballasted with gravel and slag. _The greatest gradient is 1 in 100, the sharpest curve is a radius of 16 chains._The works consist of two under bridges that have stone abutments and cast iron girders and one brick arch. _The first bridge has 20ft iron girders, carried on the stone abutments and the others are constructed of stone and brick. The greatest span is 40ft on the skew. There are 4 viaducts which are constructed of brick and stone. _The points and signals at the junction are arranged on the locking principle. _There is a turntable at Wirksworth, the terminal station of the line and all passenger trains are to proceed toward Derby where the engines can be turned. The gradient at Wirksworth is 1 in 220. It should be changed to 1 in 300 if the line is to be carried further. _Stations are Hazelwood, Shottle & Idridgehay. _Two public roads cross the line on the level. The gates close across the road but they only close the Railway at one side. _Two more gates are required for each of these roads. Cross bar signals & lamps are wanted on the gates and stops to prevent the gates being opened outwards, as well as stops for the gates on the Railway. The signal handles at Gorsey Bank require moving, so that the signals may be seen by the man in charge of the gates. _The wicket gates at these level crossings require V fences, to prevent the passages being left open. Catch points are required where the sidings fall toward the passenger lines and chock blocks at the other end of the sidings - these have been f???y done. _All the points on the passenger lines have not been supplied with indicators, the pair of points should be taken out at Shottle Station and another pair should be taken out at Idridgehay. _The clocks have not yet been placed at the stations, they should be placed so as to be seen from the platforms. The gradient boards also require completing and several openings in the fencing require closing. _The branches of a tree, east of Idridgehay Station require cutting down, so as to clear the distant signal and the longitudinal beam on the under bridge at 5m 49ch requires to be properly laid on the girders. _The piers of the overbridge at 2m 73ch are slightly out of perpendicular & the centre arch shows several settlements. These appear to have been caused by striking the centre of the middle space before those of the side spaces were struck. I see no reason to think that any further movement will take place, but it should be watched. A little ballasting is required near Duffield. _The Engineer and the Manager of the Midland Railway have undertaken that all these small issues shall be completed this week. I beg therefore to submit that the Wirksworth Branch of the Midland Railway may be opened for passenger traffic so soon as a satisfactory undertaking as the proposed mode of working is submitted. _I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant, J.A.Rich, Colonel, Royal Engineers."
Letter dated Sept. 28th, 1867 from the General Manager's Office, M.R. Co. (Rec'd Oct 1 1867 No. 2019 Board of Trade): "On behalf of the Midland Railway Company, I hereby undertake that the Duffield and Wirksworth line, which is a single line, shall be worked on the Staff System, as described in section 3 of the suggestions marked C in the memorandum of recommendations of the Board of Trade with regard to the working of single lines and in accordance with the printed regulations enclosed herewith. _I am, Sir, your obedient servant, James Allport."
Minute dated Oct 1/67 from D.MacGregor, Board of Trade: "The undertaking is given by Mr Allport, the General Manager of the Midland Rly on behalf of the company. Colonel Rich considers the mode of proposed working to be satisfactory but thinks the undertaking should be made under the Seal of the Company and signed by the Chairman & Secretary as requested in our printed circular resp. to first notices of opening. _We have not always adhered rigidly to the requirement as to the Seal of the coy. and the Chairman & Secry., but have frequently accepted an Undertaking signed by the Secretary alone by direction of and on behalf of the Company owning the line. _How shall we deal with this case?"
Reply (initials illegible) dated Oct. 2/67: "I do not think the Co. would repudiate the undertaking of their General Manager. If they would do thus they cd. not be trusted to adhere to an undertaking made under their seal. Until we have some power of enforcing compliance with such undertakings, their only practical effect is to relieve the BofT from responsibility. I think Mr. Allport's will suffice for this".
26th Sept. 1867 Gorsey Bank …. Two more gates are required for each of these roads. Cross bar signals & lamps are wanted on the gates and stops to prevent the gates being opened outwards, as well as stops for the gates on the Railway. The signal handles at Gorsey Bank require moving, so that the signals may be seen by the man in charge of the gates. _The wicket gates at these level crossings require V fences, to prevent the passages being left open. Catch points are required where the sidings fall toward the passenger lines and chock blocks at the other end of the sidings - these have been f???y done. - MT6/48/5 (Part extract)
27th August 1875. Siding connection at Duffield: "The line is single and as the Company intend to work all traffic to the siding from one direction, signals have been erected only at that side of the junction points with the ????????? are worked by means of a wire & connected to a lever ????? and are intended to be secured with a padlock. _I cannot recommend that this arrangement be approved of. I suggest that the siding & junction should be protected by signals in both directions and that the points, which are facing points for the down line, should be worked by rods and levers interlocked with the signal lever. _J.A.Rich" Copy ort sent back to MR but no further correspondence. – MT6 142/5
At 10.0 a.m. on September 8th 1890, the line between Duffield Junction and Hazelwood and between Hazelwood and Idridgehay will be worked in accordance with the General Regulations for signalling by Telegraph Bells. Block Telegraph working will be put into operation between Idrigehay and Wirksworth; Gorsey Bank Crossing being an intermediate Block Telegraph Signal Post.
Wirksworth:- A new Signal Box will be opened. The signals will be:- A distant signal in the post of the Gorsey Bank down home signal, and a home signal, to regulate the running of down trains and engines; A starting signal and an advanced starting signal, to regulate the running of up trains and engines; Ground disc siding signals. This Signal box will be closed each night, and between the running of booked trains on Sundays. The points giving communication between the sidings and the main line will not be connected to the Signal Box on the day named.
Gorsey Bank Crossing:- A new Signal Box will be opened. The signals will be:- A distant signal in the post of the Wirksworth down home signal, a home signal, and a starting signal, to regulate the running of up trains and engines; A distant signal and a home signal, to regulate the running of down trains and engines; This Signal box will be closed each night, and between the running of booked trains on Sundays.
Idridgehay:- A new Signal Box will be opened. The signals will be:- A distant signal, a home signal, and a starting signal to regulate the running of up trains and engines; A distant signal, a home signal, and a starting signal to regulate the running of down trains and engines; A ground disc siding signal. This Signal box will be closed each night, and between the running of booked trains on Sundays. The points giving communication between the sidings and the main line will not be connected to the Signal Box on the day named.
At 4.0pm on Sunday next, October 19th 1890, Train Staff and Ticket Working between Duffield Junction and Wirksworth will be discontinued, and Train Tablet Working adopted. The line between Duffield Junction and Idridgehay will be worked by Train Tablet only, in accordance with the Train Tablet Regulations on pages 150 to 155 of No.17 appendix to the Working time-Table, Duffield Junction and Idridgehay being the Train Tablet Stations. The line between Idridgehay and Wirksworth will be worked by Train Tablets and Tickets, in accordance with the Regulations for working Single Lines by Train Tablet on pages 150 to 155 of No.17 appendix to the Working time-Table, and Rules 355 to 374 in the Company's Book or Rules and Regulations respecting the working of Single Lines of Railway by Train Staff and Ticket, the Train Tablet being used in place of the Train Staff. Block Telegraph Working will be continued, Idridgehay, Gorsey Bank Crossing, and Wirksworth being the Black (sic) Telegraph Signal Posts.
Duffield Junction:-_The points giving communication between the siding alongside the Wirksworth Branch and the main line of that Branch, now controlled by Single Line Train Staff Key, will be controlled by the Tablets for the Section of Line between Duffield Junction and Idridgehay, in accordance with Clause 34 of the Train Tablet Regulations.
10.0am Monday, November 2nd 1890 – Wirksworth. An arm signal at the north end of the platform, to regulate the running of trains and engines from the main line into the Goods Yard, will be brought into use.
9.0 a.m. on November 18th 1890 – Shottle & Hazelwood. All the points giving communication between the sidings and the main line will be controlled by the train tablet for the section of line between Duffield Junction and Idridgehay, and the use of the signals will be discontinued.
9.0 a.m. on November 17th 1890 – Wirksworth. All the points giving communication between the sidings and the main line will be connected to the Signal Box.
9.0 a.m. on November 17th 1890 – Idridgehay. The points at the Duffield end of the platform, giving communication between the goods yard and the main line, will be connected to the Signal Box. The points giving communication between the goods yard and the main line, at the Duffield end of the goods yard, will be controlled by the train tablet for the section of line between Duffield Junction and Idridgehay.
8.0 a.m. on 7th May 1892 – Duffield Junction. The distant signal for the down main line will be superseded by a two-armed bracket distant signal on the down side of the line; the arm nearest to the main lines will apply to trains and engines going toward Belper, and the arm farthest from the main lines to trains and engines going onto the Wirksworth Branch.
Diagrams of Duffield Junction and Duffield Station from 1897 are available.
Here are more details of the 1897 widening at Duffield
8.0 a.m. on 24th July 1898 – Duffield Junction. A new ground disc signal will be brought into use to regulate the running on to the main line of the Wirksworth Branch of trains and engines from the siding alongside the down main line, now used for tipping purposes, and the locking will be removed for alterations.
On and after Sunday 8th September 1901 – Duffield Junction. The signals will be:- _A home signal between the up passenger line and up goods line, to regulate the running of trains and engines on the up passenger line; and a home signal alongside the up goods line, to regulate the running of trains and engines on that line; _The present starting signal for the up passenger line; _A two-armed bracket distant signal, a two-armed bracket home signal, and a two-armed bracket directing signal alongside the Wirksworth Branch, to regulate the running of trains and engines approaching from Wirksworth; the right-hand arms will apply to trains and engines going forward on the up passenger line, and the left-hand arms to trains and engines going on to the up goods line; _A seven-armed girder signal over the down fast line and down slow line, to regulate the running of trains and engines on the down fast line and down slow line, as shown by the following diagram:- [not illustrated here] _1. Duffield Junction down slow line home signal to siding alongside Wirksworth Branch. _2. Duffield Junction down slow line home signal to Wirksworth Branch. _3. Duffield Junction down slow line home signal to down slow line. _4. Duffield Station Box down slow line distant signal to down slow line. _5. Duffield Station Box down slow line distant signal to down passenger line. _6. Duffield Junction down fast line home signal. _7. Duffield Station Box down fast line distant signal. _A starting signal applicable to trains and engines going towards Wirksworth, on the bracket post of the home signal near the Wirksworth end of the Branch platform; _A ground disc signal to regulate the running of trains and engines from the siding alongside the Wirksworth Branch on to the up passenger line and up goods line; _A ground disc signal to regulate the running of trains and engines from the siding alongside the down slow line on to the Wirksworth Branch or into the siding alongside the Wirksworth Branch; _A ground disc signal between the down fast line and down slow line, to give permission for trains and engines to set back from the down slow line on to the up passenger line and up goods line; _A ground disc signal alongside the down fast line, to give permission for trains and engines to set back from the down fast line on to the up passenger line and up goods line; _A ground disc signal between the up passenger line and down fast line, to give permission for trains and engines to set back from the up passenger line on to the down fast line, the down slow line, on to the Wirksworth Branch, or into the siding alongside the Wirksworth Branch; _A ground disc signal between the up passenger line and up goods line, to give permission for trains and engines to set back from the up goods line on to the down fast line, the down slow line, on to the Wirksworth Branch, or into the siding alongside the Wirksworth Branch.
6.0 a.m. on September 15th 1901 – Duffield Junction. The left-hand arms of the two-armed bracket distant and home signals applicable to trains and engines approaching from Wirksworth and going on to the up goods line will be removed and dispensed with; and the right-hand arms of those signals will regulate the running of all trains and engines approaching from Wirksworth to the two-armed bracket directing signal at the Derby end of the Wirksworth Branch platform.
Monday, May 27th 1907 – Idridgehay. The points at the Duffield end of the goods yard siding will be disconnected from the stage for a new stage to be fixed.
Monday and Tuesday, May 3rd & 4th 1909 – Wirksworth. The electric automatic fogsignalling apparatus working in connection with th distant signals on the Wirksworth Branch will be disconnected for alterations to the ramps. The work at Wirksworth and Gorsey Bank will be carried out on the Monday, and at Idridgehay and Duffield on the Tuesday.
4th December 1923 – Gorsey Bank. The Chief Engineer reported that at about 7.25pm the 6.28pm passenger train from Derby to Wirksworth passed a signal at danger, and collided with the two 14 feet level crossing gates at Gorsey Bank, Wirksworth, smashing them, also one gate lamp and stand. - RAIL418/93 LMS Works Committee minute book 1
LMS M1 Notice 30th Jun 1934. Tablet working between Duffield & Wirksworth substituted by long and short section working. Idridgehay signal box abolished and two new ground frames named Idridgehay Goods (West End) & (East End) control the goods loop, unlocked by long & short section tokens. Up and down distant signals worked from ground frame named "Idridgehay" fixed on the platform close to the Booking Office. Gates worked by hand with the means of padlocking across the railway provided. Wirksworth signal box abolished.
LONDON MIDLAND AND SCOTTISH RAILWAY COMPANY – Sectional Appendix to the Working Time Tables – Midland Division – March, 1937 and until further notice.
Key Token Working - Wirksworth Branch:-
Apparatus is installed to enable Idridgehay token station to be closed at certain and during the times this token station is closed the line between Duffield Junction box and Wirksworth is worked in accordance with Section VI, of the Rule Book, by long section token. The long section token is lettered "Duffield Junction and Wirksworth” Duffield Junction signal box is the token station, and the signalman there its the person appointed to receive the token from and deliver it to the driver. In addition, the signalman at Idridgehay Station is authorised to deliver the long section token to and receive it from the driver for the purpose of closing or opening. When Idridgehay token station is the long section token will be handed to the driver, and when Idridgehay token section opens the long section will be collected from the driver at Idridgehay and a short section token for the Idridgehay-Wirksworth or Idridgehay-Duffield section, as may be required, will be handed to the driver after permission has been obtained in the latter case for the train to enter the advance section.
Drivers of trains from Duffield or Wirksworth proceeding towards Idridgehay with a long section token, may be required to exchange the long section token at Idridgehay, and must be prepared accordingly.
When Idridgehay token station is open and it is necessary to clear the single line to enable a short section token to he obtained at that place for a second train to proceed to Wirksworth, or to enable a short section token to be obtained at Wirksworth for another train to proceed to Idridgehay, the first train must he drawn clear of the single line at Wirksworth and the token passed through the instrument in accordance with the instructions exhibited there.
When long section token working is in operation and a train, which has arrived at Wirksworth from Idridgehay, requires to proceed on to the Wirksworth Incline Branch, the whole of the train must be drawn clear of the single line at Wirksworth Station, and when this has been done the long section token must be handed to the Station Master at Wirksworth, who will take charge of the token until the train requires to return to Idridgehay.
When long section token working is in operation the departure of all trains which leave Wirksworth without the token being passed through the instrument at that place must be telephoned to Idridgehay, and the Station master at the latter place must advise Duffield Junction when the trains in question leave Idridgehay.
When short section token working is in operation no train must proceed on to the single line between Idridgehay and Wirksworth Station, unless the driver is in possession of a token, or he has seen one in the possession of the driver of an engine to which his engine is attached, except as provided in Electric Token Regulations 14B, 14C and 25.
Pouches are provided in which the token is placed before being handed to the driver.
Section obstructed by Accident or by Disabled Train.
Engine entering section for examination of Line.
Train or portion of train left on single line.
Working of trains to and from point of obstruction.
Failure of Token Instrument or Token damaged.
During the time short section working is in operation, Electric Token Regulations 14, 14B, 14C, 23 and 25 will apply. The person working the instrument at Wirksworth Station must be regarded as the signalman.
When it is necessary to ascertain if the line is clear an engine must not be allowed to enter the section unless a token has been obtained from the token instrument and is in possession of the driver. The circumstances must be explained to the driver and he must be instructed to proceed cautiously through the section, prepared to stop short of any obstruction. Where practicable, the engine must be accompanied by a Station Master or other competent person. After sunset or during fog or falling snow, the engine must always he so accompanied.
(b) The person in charge of token station at which the engine enters the section can in these circumstances obtain a token, and the token so obtained must not he placed in the instrument at either end of the section until the person in charge or driver, as the [case] may be, has reported that the line is safe for the passage of trains.
May 1939 – Duffield Junction. The dwarf shunting signal regulating the running of trains and engines from the Down Sidings to the down goods line will be abolished.
M1 Notice No.52 December 1956 - Idridgehay Station is renamed Idridgehay Crossing and is not a block post. Listing for Branch changed to "Single lines of railway worked only by one engine in steam” from “Single lines of railway Worked on the Electric Token Block System”, with entry regarding Idridgehay as a token station to be deleted.
December 1956 – Duffield Junction. The up main outer home signal, with lower up main outer distant signal for Peckwash Mill Sidings box, has been renewed 83 yards farther from the box at a point 1,580 yards from the Peckwash Mill Sidings up main home signal. _ The up main distant signal has been renewed in colour light form, outside the up main line, as a straight post signal, 12 feet above rail level and 1,068 yards farther from the box. It is now 2,051 yards from the repositioned up main outer home signal. OL.3567 (8)
30th April 1971 – Duffield Junction. Duffield No.2 ground frame spiked out of use pending removal.
Sunday 3rd June 1979 – Gorsey Bank. Converted to Open Crossing, attendance withdrawn and all signals removed (postponed from 29APR1979).
For further information about the picturesque branch line from Duffield to Wirksworth, abandoned by the national network in 1989, you may want to have a look at the the WyvernRail web site. They have done a amazing job in reopening the branch for passengers.
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Dave Harris, Willington, Derby, UK.
Page last updated: Sunday, 30 August 2015