Plus parts of East Cornwall and West Devon

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: May 31, 2018
Webpage updated: May 31, 2018

To go to the Home Page          To go to the A-Z Contents Page



When the Cornwall Railway Company opened their railway line from Plymouth Station at Millbay to the Royal Albert Bridge in 1859, Devonport was the only point at which a stopping place was provided.  The late Larry Crosier, author of "Mechanical Signalling in Plymouth" and a founder member of both the Plymouth Railway Circle and the Signalling Record Society, states that Up and Down signals were provided at Devonport from its opening.  This was because it was double track from Plymouth as far as the Devonport Station but only single track through Devonport Tunnel and beyond to Cornwall.  The signals were not locked with the points, however, so a terrible accident was still possible.  Larry cites a survey of 1867 that 'suggested that a trailing crossover should be provided with a slip connection to the sidings [on the down side], thus obviating the need to interlock the facing points with the down signal'.

The first signal box at Devonport Station was opened at 248 miles 33 chains mile post mileage from London Paddington Station via Bristol Temple Meads Station and Plymouth Station (Millbay) on November 9th 1877, after the London and South Western Railway Company had opened their line into Devonport for Stonehouse Station.  It contained a 20-lever frame of unknown manufacture.  The frame was extended to 29 levers when a goods shed was built at the eastern end of the Station circa 1892.  When the Great Western Railway Company doubled the entire line from Devonport Station to the Keyham Viaduct in October 1899 the new signal box with a 29-lever double twist frame manufactured by the Great Western Railway Company was opened.  Track circuiting was installed between 1914 and 1917.

Devonport Station Signal Box was closed as from November 26th 1960 with the opening of the Plymouth Panel Signal Box.

Signalling instructions for the Signal Box provided that the signalman should ask Keyham Station Signal Box "Is Line Clear?" for Down trains as soon as the "Is Line Clear?" is requested by Devonport Junction Signal Box; and that for through passenger and freight trains heading into North Road Plymouth Station the "Is Line Clear?" bell-code should be sent to Devonport Junction Signal Box as soon as the "Train Approaching" signal was received from Keyham but that for Up trains which stopped at Devonport Station the bell-code should be sent just before the train was ready to leave the platform for North Road Station.


  With grateful acknowledgement to the late Mr Laurence 'Larry' William Crosier (1929-2010) of the Great Western Railway Company (1943-1947);
British Railways (1948-c1994); the Plymouth Railway Circle, the Lee Moor Tramway Preservation Society, and the Signalling Record Society.