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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Olton Station: gwro2304

Photograph of Olton Station's 1906 award winning best garden which won the prize in the Birmingham Division

Photograph of Olton Station's 1906 award winning best garden which won the prize in the Birmingham Division, the photograph appeared in the March issue of the Great Western Railway Magazine. By this time, this award scheme had been running for thirteen years with each of the eleven division's winning stations receiving a £5 prize. The objective was encourage station gardens. In the circular announcing the awards the General Manager mentioned that ‘notwithstanding the dryness of the season, there was a good and constant supply of flowers.’

The photograph shows the original signal box at the southern end of the up platform. This box was replaced in 15th June 1913, when the quadrupled track to Tyseley, which had been installed in 1907, but terminated just north of the station was remodelled from a main line with two relief loops to two pairs of running lines (Main and Relief). At this point a larger replacement box was built at the northern end of the station to oversee the junction.

There were few signal boxes on the Birmingham & Oxford Junction Railway when it was built, but it appears that subsequently the signalling (including construction of the Signal Boxes) was contracted to the Worcester Company of McKenzie & Holland. When the station opened in 1869 there was no signal box at Olton and it is thought that this Signal Box was constructed in 1875. It is a McKenzie & Holland (MK&H) type 3 signal box, a type which the company introduced that year, but it has some features, such as the 2 by 2 window panes that are normally associated with previous MK&H signal box designs. The MK&H type 3 was the first of their designs to have a tiled gable roof with the distinctive finals seen here Note there is evidence of a third lower final on the toilet roof adjacent to the platform and external staircase. The lower locking rooms of MK&H type 3 signal boxes were constructed from a variety of materials, but in this case horizontal timber weatherboarding has been used. The early MK&H type 3 designs had an ornate brick chimney and the operating room windows were a sliding sash design.

This original Signal Box was built with a 10 lever frame, which from May 1879 controlled a trailing crossover in addition to the block section signals on the up and down main lines. Prior to 1906 the box was only open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday. When constructed Olton's first signal box had a wooden nameplate, but a cast iron nameplate was ordered on 18th July 1899 (order 210). There is no record of a new nameplate being ordered for the replacement signal box in 1913, so it is assumed the cast iron nameplate was transferred.

Robert Ferris