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LMS Route: Rugby to Leamington Spa (Avenue)

Marton Station: lnwrmart3975

Looking towards Rugby with two signal cabins in view on the right, one at either end of the down platform

Looking towards Rugby with two signal cabins in view on the right, one at either end of the down platform. In response to an appeal for more information on the cabin nearest the camera Dave Blower from the Signal Box Forum wrote, 'It looks like an early Saxby and Farmer design to me, the photo my have been taken to record this box before it was replaced by the LNWR design box at the far end of the platform. The LNWR was upgrading it's 'first generation' signalling in response to the Regulation of Railways Acts during the 1880-90s'. Reg Instone of the LNWR Society subsequently wrote, 'Yes, it is indeed a Saxby & Farmer type 2a cabin, all-wood variety, as used extensively on the Southern Division of the LNWR until the company started manufacturing their own equipment in 1873-74. Compare this with photographs of cabins at 'Bulkington', Brandon & Wolston, Banbury Lane (roof altered) and other more obscure places. My guess is that it was built about 1870-72 when interlocked signalling (and absolute block?) were introduced to the line. Maybe 1871 (Board of Trade file MT6/78/12)'. The second cabin in the distance was a LNWR type 4, and if I recall it was built about 1884, probably when the line was doubled throughout (cf Board of Trade files MT6/315/5 and MT6/370/1). In which case the first (Saxby & Farmer) cabin had a life of little over 10 years!. The '1886 Ordnance Survey map' shows both cabins with the LNWR signal cabin being twice the size of the Saxby & Farmer signal cabin. This would suggest that the doubling of the line with its corresponding increase in pointwork and signals required more levers than could be accommodated within the frame housed in the Saxby & Farmer signal cabin hence the need to replace it. The 1904 Ordnance Survey map confirms the Saxby and Farmer signal cabin has been dismantled.

Reg writes later, 'I have been unable to date to establish the exact date of the doubling between Dunchurch and Marton. It may have been in 1871-72, when Dunchurch station was opened, or in 1875 when it was first shown as double in the annual returns to the Board of Trade. The answer may be in the LNWR minute books, or in the Board of Trade file for 1871 mentioned above. The Saxby & Farmer cabin illustrated above probably dated from the doubling - but if the date turns out to be 1875, then that would seem rather late for a cabin of this type. A cabin built in 1875 would be expected to be a standard LNWR type 4. The arrangement of platforms and the trailing crossover indicates that the lines behind the camera were Up Main and Down Main, so that the points of double to single line must have been beyond the Leamington end of the Down platform; I have not seen a plan from this period. The Saxby & Farmer cabin must have been worked on the 'Time Interval' system to Dunchurch, and 'Staff only' to Leamington, as Absolute Block was not introduced until later. The line between Marton and Leamington stations was doubled w.e.f. 28th January 1884 (various LNWR minutes, also Clinker), and the new type 4 box at Marton (at the Rugby end of the station) was reported as complete to the May meeting of the LNWR Locomotive Committee. Absolute Block working was introduced on the line in 1883-84 (Board of Trade annual returns) - ie at the time of completion of the doubling, and construction of new Signal Cabins'.

There is some debate as to the the date of this photograph because the Saxby and Farmer structure is still in very good repair but all the rodding etc runs to the LNWR signal cabin indicating the Saxby and Farmer cabin may have been retained for other purposes. The up platform on the left and the fencing running towards the white painted cattle dock all look in a remarkably clean and also in a good state of repair, possibly indicating the photograph was taken not too long after the line was doubled in January 1884. On the other hand, David Fry of the Marton Local History Group who supplied the photograph, writes 'Assuming that it is a postcard, the only other photographer who operated around here at an earlier date was the Elkington family from Broadwell and their photos ranged from 1904-1910. The uniform and workmen's dress seem to indicate the Edwardian period, but I'd love to know the reality. The other early photograph, image 'lnwrmart3100', dates from 1909 and was published by 'Leafy Leam' of Leamington (a photographer by the name of Tunnicliffe).