Old signal re-erected at Dolau Station

On Wednesday 17th July 2013, a semaphore signal was re-erected on the disused upside platform at Dolau Station on the Heart of Wales Line nearly 38 years after it was decommissioned and removed from that station.

The signal was manufactured in 1971 and was a standard lower quadrant semaphore of a type widely in use on the Western Region of British Railways at that time.  In February 1972 it was installed in the trackbed of the old up main line adjacent to the signal box at Dolau Station Level Crossing, replacing the former L.N.W.R. up starting signal which was on a bracket attached to the box itself.  The signal box had ceased to be a block post several years before and the signal’s sole function was to protect the level crossing which still had mechanically operated double gates.  The new semaphore signal was in use for less than four years because on 1st November 1975 the signal box and all associated signalling equipment were decommissioned and replaced by an automatic open level crossing with flashing lightsDolau signal 2

The redundant signal box was quickly demolished because of visibility issues and the semaphore signal posts were also taken down. The top six feet of the signal post (including the signal arm and finial) which had formed part of the signal adjacent to the signal box was purchased by Major Hugh Black of The Old Vicarage, Dolau, who put it in his garden. He and his family later moved to Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, and took the signal with them.  After some years, Major Black and his family moved again (with the signal) to King’s Lynn in Norfolk.  There the signal was erected in their garden and remained there until 2012 when the family, owing to the earlier death of Major Black and due also to the deteriorating health of Mrs. Black, put the property up for sale.  Major Black’s son, Paul, wrote to Mike Reynolds, the chairman of Dolau Station Action Group, to enquire if the group would like to take possession of the signal.  Mike replied that they would and the signal was transported on a trailer from Norfolk all the way to Dolau House Farm immediately adjacent to Dolau Station.  On 17th July this year the signal was re-erected in the centre of a flower bed on the disused upside platform under the direction of Mr. Ian Smyth (Network Rail’s Infrastructure Maintenance Protection Co-ordinator based in Shrewsbury) working with Mr. Steve Griffiths (Off Track Supervisor based in Hereford), Mr. Adrian Bennett (Assistant Permanent Way Section Manager based in Llandrindod Wells), Mr. John Williams (Technician based in Llandrindod Wells) and five volunteers from the station action group. To give the signal extra height the hollow column of the signal was slid over the top of a section of an old telephone pole which had been previously concreted into the ground. This final operation was undertaken using a tractor with lifting equipment. The signal post was subsequently bolted to the old telephone pole and the whole structure has been given two coats of paint by the station volunteers, the paint being kindly donated by Network Rail.

The signal is a definite focal point of interest at Dolau Station and along the Line generally where there are now no semaphore signals apart from those at Pantyffynnon Station and near the junction with the Marches Line at Craven Arms.  One driver of a northbound service train recently remarked that after seeing the signal at Dolau Station he was unsure of “which line to take”!  Certainly the signal is a welcome addition to those historic elements of the Line’s infrastructure which still remain.


One response

22 09 2013
Anthea Black

This article is fascinating, My father, Hugh Black would have been so proud and delighted to have been able to witness this restoration. Many thanks to all those who put in so much effort. Anthea,[ nee Black].

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