Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 18, 2016
Webpage updated: May 07, 2021

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The nameboard of Keyham Station Signal Box,
so named to distinguish it from the original Keyham Junction Signal Box.
Mr Patrick Lynch, Bristol.

When the Cornwall Railway Company constructed the original railway line through Keyham it was only a single track so the Company only had to provide a simple junction into the Royal Dockyard controlled from Keyham Junction Signal Box.

Following the doubling of the main line by the Great Western Railway Company in 1899, a more complicated junction was created and it was also proposed to erect a railway station at Keyham for the benefit of the men from the Royal Naval Barracks.  So on Monday June 25th 1900 Keyham Junction Signal Box, along with the Keyham Viaduct Temporary Signal Box, were closed and a new Keyham Station Signal Box opened.  The new double track main line was also brought into use on that day.  The Signal Box had a frame of 33 levers but only 25 were needed at that time.  Keyham Station was opened to passenger and goods traffic on Sunday July 1st 1900.

In about 1937 the Up Back Platform line was extended at the Devonport end to enable a train of up to 49 wagons to be stabled there.  This enlarged the Signal Box frame to 59 levers, although some were still not used.

Another view of Keyham Station Signal Box.
Mr Patrick Lynch, Bristol.

Starting at 7.30am on Sunday May 18th 1941 a new connection was installed between the Up Main line and the Dockyard Branch.  Although this enabled freight trains from Cornwall to directly access the Royal Dockyard, its real purpose was the allow freight trains that had come down the Southern Railway route from Lydford to Saint Budeaux and then used the connection to the Up Great Western Railway main line to have direct access to the Dockyard.  It also meant that freight trains from the Dockyard Siding headed into Plymouth could quickly reverse on to the Up Main road and get almost immediate "Right Away" to Devonport Station and further afield.  The work was due to be completed by 5pm on Friday May 23rd 1941.  It resulted in 53 levers being in use in Keyham Station Signal Box with six spares.

The diagram for the signal alterations detailed above.
From GWR Signal Notice B712 dated (May) 3rd 1941.
Author's collection.

The new rail link required the installation of two new signals.  On the Up Main line a bracket post was added 284 yards from the Signal Box.  This held the Up Main Home and to its left the Up Main to Back Platform Home, beneath which was the Up Main to Back Platform Draw Ahead signal.  On the same post but below those mentioned above were the Up Main to Sidings Home and the Up Main to Keyham Yard Home.  Covering the exit from the Royal Dockyard were the Keyham Yard to Down Main Starter, with to its left the Keyham Yard to Siding Starter and to its right the Backing from Keyham Yard to Up Main.  Also a part of the work was removing the Limit of Shunt indicator on the Up side of the Up Main line 80 yards further out from the Signal Box towards the Viaduct.  During the work, wqhich wassupervised by Inmspector Harris, the Up and Down Distant signals at Keyham and the Down Distant signal at Saint Budeaux East Signal Box were disconnected and kept at Caution. 

This connection was removed again in 1956.

No further goods traffic was taken at Keyham from Monday July 19th 1965 but the goods shed line was not taken out of use until Friday April 22nd 1966.

With the introduction of Multiple Aspect Signalling in the Plymouth area in November 1960, Keyham Station Signal Box became the westerly fringe box for the Plymouth Panel Box and the Up Advanced Starting Signal beyond the Royal Navy Avenue road bridge was changed to colour light and made an Intermediate Block Post working independently of the Keyham Station Signal Box.

Finally Keyham Station Signal Box was closed as from Monday July 2nd 1973 when its signals and points were amalgamated into the Plymouth Power Box network although a few points were left to be controlled from new East and West Ground Frames.

  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.