WR Panels

A large proportion of BR Western Region was resignalled in the 1960s and 70s. Apart from a few isolated schemed where colour-lights already existed (Paddington-Hayes, Bristol, Cardiff), the majority of the signalling being replaced was mechanical, with semaphore signals and points worked from lever frames.

The resignallings came at the same time as a number of other economies in the railway organisation:
* Dieselisation, replacing of steam locomotives
* Rationalisation of the network, including the closure of many stations and lines.
* MAS, a huge saving in equipment, maintenance and manpower by centralising control of MAS equipment into the new panels.

MAS control panels allow the setting of routes electrically, instead of mechanically. They are a lot less labour intensive than a layout signalling with mechanical equipment. Critically, a much larger area can be controlled by each person.

The then new panels utilise square tiles called ‘Dominos’, patented by a Swiss company called Integra, to construct the panel diagram. Each Domino is 40mm square and has a small section of the layout on it, such as one signal, or one set of points. Many hundreds of small Dominos are then formed into a mosaic to build up the required panel diagram. Domino panels are supplied in the UK by Henry Williams in Darlington.

The WR Domino panels are special in that they use rotary switches for the ‘entrance’ controls, instead of the push buttons that most other regions use.

Domino panels were installed on the Western Region at the locations below. Large installations are shown in capitals.

Location Opened Closed
Margam Hump 6 March 1960 1 November 1987
BIRMINGHAM 11 September 1960 17 September 1972
PLYMOUTH 28 November 1960 (Extant)
Reading Main Line East 12 February 1961 24 April 1965
East Usk Jn 16 April 1961 9 December 1962
Magor 16 April 1961 1 February 1968
Maindee Main 16 April 1961 9 December 1962
Maindee North 20 August 1961 9 December 1962
Twyford 23 October 1961 20 March 1972
Gaer Junction 26 November 1961 9 December 1962
Henley-on-Thames 10 December 1961 20 March 1972
Old Oak Common (original main line panel) 8 October 1962 4 September 1967
Old Oak Common (original engine lines panel) 8 October 1962 4 September 1967
NEWPORT (MAIN) 9 December 1962 16 May 2011
PORT TALBOT (MAIN) 22 September 1963 (Extant)
SLOUGH 13 October 1963 (Closed)
READING (MAIN) 24 April 1965 30 December 2010
CARDIFF 27 March 1966 (Closed)
OLD OAK COMMON (MAIN) 4 September 1967 26 May 1995
NEWPORT (SEVERN TUNNEL) 1 February 1968 28 October 2012
SWINDON 3 March 1968 (Closed)
GLOUCESTER 25 May 1968 (Extant)
Princes Risborough 27 October 1968 1 March 1991
Didcot Power Station c. January 1970 13 June 2013
BRISTOL (MAIN) 8 March 1970 (Extant)
BRISTOL (STOKE) 12 February 1971 (Closed)
PORT TALBOT (SWANSEA PANEL) 10 September 1973 (Extant)
OXFORD 14 October 1973 (Extant)
Old Oak Common (Mini) 15 December 1977 April 1993
READING (NEWBURY PANEL) January 1978 25 April 2010
Westbury (North) 9 October 1978 27 April 1984
Chard Junction 6 December 2009 10 March 2012
Ascott-under-Wychwood 6 June 2011 (Extant)
Evesham 22 August 2011 (Extant)
Severn Tunnel Hump Yard ? ?

Dates drawn from the BPSR.