The Joy of Signal Boxes – On The Railways in Scotland in the 1980s and 1990s

Originally, points and signals along railway lines were operated locally from individual levers or handles, moved into position for each train that passed. Control was concentrated into trackside wooden huts known as signal boxes.

British Railways inherited about 10,000 signal boxes when it was formed in 1948. In 2019, there were 166 listed signal boxes on our network, including 86 still in use.

Neale Elder took these photographs in Scotland of railway signal boxes he knew, come across and, in some cases, worked.


Signal boxes

Crossing at Achnasheen, 1985

Signal Boxes

Arbroath Signal Box, 1995

The first signal box was in 1843  the London & Croydon Railway in 1843 to control the junction to Bricklayers Arms in London.

Electric power meant that physical presence was no longer needed and the individual control points could be consolidated to increase system efficiency. All-electric systems led to computerised video displays and a point-and-click or touchscreen interface. Today, the use of Automatic Route Setting negates the need for any human input at all as common train movements could be fully automated according to a schedule or other scripted logic.



Welshs Bridge Signal Box - 1985

Welshs Bridge Signal Box – 1985

Signal boxes

Auldbar Road, 1994

signal boxes

Auchterarder Signal Box -1993


Blackford Signal Box -1993

Broughty Ferry signal-box, 2000

Broughty Ferry signal-box, 2000

Dalnaspidal Signal Box

Signal boxes

Dalwhinnie Signal Box -1994


Tay Bridge South signal box, 1986

Montrose North signal box – 1995


Hilton Junction – 1994

Blackford, 1994



Dunkeld signal box – 1993

Token Exchange at Forres, 1997

Shankend Signal box, 1990

Semaphore Signals and signal box at Dundee Tay Bridge West, 1983

Hilton Junction signal box, 1993

Hilton Junction

Errol Signal Box, 1993

Errol Signal Box seen form cab, 1999

Dunning Signal Box, 1993

Dunning Signal Box, 1993

Arbroath Signal Box, 1995

Neala Elder is on Flickr.

Some old signal boxes have been coveverted into cafes, museums, art studios and holiday accommodation, like the Instow signal box in Devon, North of England Open Air Museum, BeamishNational Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, the Romsey Signal Box Museum,

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