Monthly Archives: July 2014

600 Photos Uploaded to Photo Gallery

Over 600 photos have been uploaded to the new Photo Gallery Site:

Photos have been uploaded into albums such as “Swindon Panel Through the Ages“, with a section for each decade; Around the Swindon Panel control area, where we have uploaded most of our photos of the area between Uffington and Swindon; and Society Events.

There are still lots of photos to upload, so keep your eyes peeled!

Do you have photos relevant to Swindon Panel, its control area or Society events that you would be happy to let us use? If so, please do send them to us!

New Photo Website Launched

We are pleased to announce that all our photos are steadily being uploaded to a new Swindon Panel Flickr site –

Thank you very much to the many supporters and contributors who have sent us their photos over time, they are all really useful in our research of the panel and our promotion of the Society. We hope you enjoy browsing through them!

If you have photos of a Swindon Panel Society activity of visit that we don’t already have then please do send them to us – Contact Details

Thanks! Danny S.

Society Family Day – Tickets Now Available!

The ‘expressions of interest’ period for the Society Family Day at the South Devon Railway has now ended. Demand has not outstripped supply (there are over 60 seats on the train!), so everyone who has expressed interest may have a place. Details of how to confirm your place are on their way to you by email from Natalie and Mark, and also on this website here.

Tickets will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis from now on. If the performance of our other events is anything to go by, they may well sell out relatively quickly! See the above link for how to book.

The Society Family Day is open to everyone – all SPS members, families, friends, followers, and complete strangers. We have exclusive use of the SDR Bubble Car for the day, and will be visiting all the signal boxes on the line. There is also an evening fish and chips add-on.

Full details on the website.

Society visit to Bristol Panel Box

Saturday 5th July saw another excellent visit to a WR signalling panel – this time at Bristol. Like Swindon Panel, Bristol is a Western Region “turn-push” type panel.

Two groups enjoyed an informative and well-organised session in the panel building.

After the necessary safety briefing, the first hour was spent on the operating floor, where we were taken through the whole area covered by the panels – starting at Bridgwater, through Weston-super-Mare, Bristol Temple Meads and Bath on the main panel, then Filton, Bristol Parkway and finishing in Charfield and Badminton on the Stoke panel, which is physically separate. The various features of the locations were explained, what traffic was involved and which moves were possible. We had ample opportunity to photograph the installation and to talk to several of the duty staff who shared there excellent local knowledge about their routines and daily moves, including “tricks of the trade”; where, and where not, to regulate freight trains for example.

While we were in the operating room a late running FGW local service was routed onto the reversible line Up Charfield between Yate and Westerleigh to allow a CrossCountry fast service to pass on the Down Charfield. This is a fairly unusual move and it was a great bonus to see something of this nature while in the box. We also saw a track machine being authorised to pass a signal at danger to enter a possession. It was a really enjoyable morning gaining a close-up view of this panel and its functions.

We then adjourned to the relay room, where we were treated to Tony Cotterell’s excellent explanations of the complicated world of interlocking. We were taken through the four stages of interlocking operation – Selection, Locking, Aspect and Release – and showing us the various relays which carried out these functions. This gave us a comprehensive insight into the 1970’s interlocking technology and of the more recent updates and fault analysis systems.

Our third session was held in the room housing the training simulator. The simulator is of a fictional area designed to put signallers through their paces, and is of a different, more modern design to the panels at Bristol and Swindon. It was great fun to operate! We were able to learn how to set up and cancel routes and carry out safety procedures. Danny kept us on our toes with useful hints on how best to plan the various moves. We ended up spending over an hour comprehensively mucking everything up, all for the purposes of signalling education, of course!

All in all this was a fantastic day out with some great people – we learnt a lot, and had a huge amount of fun at the same time!

Thanks from all of us to Network Rail and the signallers on duty for accommodating our visit.

(Merged from two reports by John Hill and Tim Squires)