SLOUGH PANEL, Swindon Panel’s older sister, will signal its last train forever later this evening.
The panel, a Henry Williams / WR turn-push panel exactly the same type as Swindon, opened on 13 October 1963, as part of the Reading-Hayes MAS scheme and in its early life it signalled ex-GWR steam trains. It controlled from from West Drayton East, where it fringed with Hayes, to White Waltham, between Maidenhead at Twyford.
As part of the scheme a new box was opened at Maidenhead to control mechanical connections the branch to Bourne End (which still had a passing place at Cookham), and West Drayton West Box was recycled as ‘West Drayton’ to control the Staines branch there.
The panel shows off three types of train describer at once. The Sedeco mechanical describer on the Relief lines; Neon “union flag” or “calculator” train describer on the Main Lines; and VDU train describer in the process of replacing both temporarily positioned on top of the panel. Saturday 16th January 1993 with the signalman on the on the Control phone. [Phil Bellamy]
As with all railway locations the layout has been rationalised a lot over the years. There was originally a running junction between all four lines between Burnham and Taplow, and at West Drayton East. (West Drayton East has since been removed and now re-instated in all but name at Stockely Bridge!) There was also a sizeable loco depot on the down side at Slough. It is hard to believe that back then the signalmen would have looked towards across from the panel towards the east loop and bay line, and what is now just two simple tracks would have been lost inside a mass maze of railway either side of it!
Right: Across all four lines at Maidenhead East from the Down Main to the Bay Line. [Phil Bellamy.]
In later years of course steam gave way to diesel and the popular and long-serving HST, and Hayes and Twyford West boxes gave way to Old Oak Common and Reading Panels. The box is now fringed on both sides by the Thames Valley Signalling Centre.
The panel has always had a great community of present and former signalmen/signallers. Many Slough PSB staff progressed on to Old Oak Panel, Reading Panel or Slough IECC and still work on or around the area. We wish all the present and past signaller of Slough PSB the very best with their future careers.
To TVSC. From TVSC. [Phil Bellamy]
The West Drayton area was resignalled at Christmas 2014 and is now controlled from the Hayes desk in the Thames Valley Signalling Centre. The new Slough desk will open over the Easter weekend and will take over the remaining area of control, from Iver to Waltham. This will fill a gap in the TVSC’s area of control, giving it continuous route coverage all the way from London Paddington to Culham, Uffington and Lavington.
A panoramic shot of Slough Panel by signaller Andy Stuart.
For more photographs of Slough PSB, see our photo website.