Category Archives: Research Updates

News on the research activities of the Society

Colin & Sybil Baldwin Photo Collection Uploaded

In the lead up to last month’s gathering of past, present and future Swindon Panel staff, signalmen and supporters, you may remember we featured on BBC Points West.

We were delighted to be contacted by former Swindon signalman Colin Baldwin and his wife Sybil, who had seen us on the television.

Colin and Sybil joined us at the gathering, after which we were delighted to be allowed to borrow their collection of photographs from Colin’s time in Swindon Panel.

The photos are available online here.

Colin retired from Swindon Panel in 1995 after several decades service in Swindon Panel and in the mechanical boxes that preceded it.

There are a number of photos of Swindon Panel, but also a large number of photos of staff gatherings and outings, retirement parties, etc that depict the very important social history of our panel.

Thank you very much to Colin and Sybil for getting in touch and loaning us the photos. We hope you enjoy browsing them!

The Hunt is On!

As previously show in our previous news story, we are hoping to bring together as many past and present Swindon Panel-linked staff as we can for our Past, Present and Future gathering on 25th April.

We believe we have a comprehensive list of signalmen based at Swindon since 1968 (although we’re happy to be corrected!), and we are now trying to contact as many of them as possible. Of course our interest is not limited to signalmen/signallers, we would be delighted to make contact with S&T and other staff as well! Unfortunately we have very little indeed in terms of records for other than signalmen.

If you are in contact with any of staff members below that we aren’t (i.e., those not highlighted), or any other staff linked to Swindon panel that we haven’t listed then please do get in touch, or give them our contact details. We would love to invite them to our gathering in April.

Staff Members List.

Operations Week 3 – Highworth

The Tuesday Operations Conference was held this evening, with more interesting discussion and uncovering forgotten history of the Swindon Panel area.

This evening South Marston to Swindon East was covered. Some interesting points to come out of this:

* A replacement switch was added in 1975 according to the WON, in connection with bridge works. This was removed by 1990. By its temporary nature it may not even have been a conventional switch in the panel. Will not be modelled. Same applies to DM74.

The WON from January 1976.

* SN22 and SN24, flashing yellows were added in May 88. Will not be modelled. (The flashing yellow DM81 was added in 1979 so will be modelled, so there will be examples of flashing yellows on the preserved panel).

* 321 points, Highworth

Shown in early material as a trap, and currently is a trap, but there is evidence that it was a run off to a buffer stop in between. Panel Domino shows buffer stop and Google maps shows a ballast trail and the remains of a buffer stop, and shows 321 in new ballast suggesting a relatively recent re-lay.

Will be modelled with buffers. No interruptor.

Click to enlarge.

* Noted that all the HCR telephones at Uffington (x3), Bourton and Highworth (east) had auto phones, but the one at Highworth Junction had a direct phone.

* SN24 – The Down Reception was converted to a Down Goods for one month before the stencil indicator on this signal was removed and a number 1 feather provided.

* 277 (A ground position limit of shunt that can be pre-set by a main aspect – my lords!)

This signal moved about quite a lot. Was at 76+330 until 1977, then the WON shows it moved to 76+220. Current photos (2009), scheme plan (2006) and cab ride video (c1992) all show the GPL as being 5-10 yards Swindon side of SN24. No evidence of when it was moved to its current position, but it looks as though it has been moved to achieve maximum standage between 277 and 216. Will be modelled at 76+220.

The operations groups meet by telephone conference on Mondays and Tuesdays and are working out exactly which items of infrastructure are going to be shown on the preserved Swindon Panel. There have been a lot of changes over the years, but a period of roughly the mid-1980s is being followed.

Monday Operations Group – Week 3

The Monday Group Operations Meeting was held this evening, covering the route from Wootton Bassett to Hullavington.

Interesting points from this evening:

* Blanches Siding was gone by 1977 so will not be provided. In any case this would be almost mutually exclusive with the reversible signalling. So only one route from GPL 280 to 764 (not LOS).

* Wootton Bassett Goods GF – not shown by 1977, not to be modelled.

* SND4 will not have an automatic plate. This was absent during the lifetime of Hullavington GF. As that GF will be modelled (see below), SND4 should not have an auto plate.

* UB92. The current locking sketches show an (R) button (representing a guaranteed emergency replacement switch), and 2015 scheme plan shows this in black (indicating that it is already present and not being removed). There is no evidence that this ever existed, but the signal itself is a relatively structure, so it may have been moved/renewed at some point, and as ‘new work’ had an R button designed, but never provided. Unless evidence arises to the contrary we will model it without a replacement switch.

* Points into Hullavington Loops: The trailing ends of these were previously slotted joints, and latterly motor worked. We will model them as motor worked for two reasons – one because the Dominos are already there in the panel and we don’t want to throw them away unnecessarily, and secondly to provide educational variation in comparison to Uffington Loops, which we have already agreed will be modelled with their slotted joints.

Hullavington Ground Frame was removed in 1993, so will be modelled. This was accessible in the up direction only, and could be released with the track circuit occupied (LN), as long as a short track circuit beyond the points (LO/1) had been occupied for 60 seconds. We guessed that this may have been to enable an engine and wagon to be cut off from a train on the Up Badminton, drawn forward over the points, shunted into the siding, and then the engine come out again and back onto the train. Either way, we will model the locking that we know existed, as described above.

We were also able to add mileages to all signals on Badminton line.

Thank you very much to our keen Operations Detectives who are working through many sources to determine what infrastructure will be modelled on the preserved Swindon Panel.

The Tuesday Group will meet tomorrow and will pick up from where they left off last week between Uffington and Bourton and work westwards.

Operations Groups – Week 2

The Operations Groups meet on Monday and Tuesday nights (there are two of them) to formulate the plans for the re-creation of the panel from a signalling point of view (as opposed to a physical structure point of view). The Monday group concentrates on the west end and the Tuesday group on the east end.

This week, on Monday, the area from Thingley Crossovers to Corsham was covered, with some interesting notes:

– Lots of discussion and inconsistency in the sources regarding the route lettering from SN72 and SN672. Eventually settled on A route to the Down Main, B route to 286 GPL and C route to the Up Main B202. (It was the B and C routes that were in doubt).

– As we are nominally modelling the mid-1980s, the Melksham line fringe will be to Bradford Junction, with token machines at Chippenham and SN74. Discussed and agreed that (unless we find evidence to the contrary), no indication would have been given to the Swindon signalman that a release had been obtained on SN74 when a token was withdrawn at Chippenham, based on similar installations at Maidenhead (Slough) and Kennington (Oxford). If a train left Chippenham and arrived at SN74 and the signal did not clear, there was a token machine there through with the token could be recycled.

– SN25 / SN125 shown in some sources as on single posts, but early sources show and overall gantry and an overall gantry exists now. Suspect being shown as single posts in between is an error as unlikely to have been changed then changed back. SN25R and SN125R are separate posts, so it may have been confusion with this. Although, suspiciously, the panel fascia shows it being on the right hand side, which it doesn’t for any of the other reversible or gantry-mounted signals (although 125 / 125R is a much later addition to the rest and is “SIMBIDS”, not full Reversible).

– SN25R / SN125R. These definitely are on separate posts, no doubt about that. On one source SN25R is shown as a three-aspect head with the red OOU. unable to find any reason for this other than it was provided ‘just in case’, WR having just gone through a capacity enhancement scheme between Wootton Bassett and Chippenham and Hullavington breaking sections and adding in aspects, maybe they thought they’d one day do the same between Thingley and Bathampton.

– DM97 is a three-aspect head with no yellow. This may be for the same ‘possible future use’ reason as above. There may have been a thought to make the next signal, DM101R into a stop signal. DM97 is also mounted on a cantilever structure, as if a signal for down direction moves on the Up Main was planned. (Possibly a plan to provide non-block emergency signals for Box Tunnel the same as was provided for Chipping Sodbury Tunnel?)

And on Tuesday, the area from west of Uffington to Stratton was covered, with these notes:

– The modelled layout will be that before the 2000/2002 South Marston alterations (this is necessary in order to fit Uffington Loops back into the panel).

– Several signals which are currently 4-aspects were 3-aspects before South Marston was installed: DM69, DM70, SN20, SN620.

– DM72 did not exist (having been converted to SN20 at the time of Bourton Crossovers commissioning)

– DM73 was in a different position (incidentally, this signal was re-numbered SN.998 between 2000 and 2002 to protect the installed-but-not-commissioned crossovers).

– SN4, SN604 did not exist.

– SN681 did not exist, but SN683R existed in its place.

– 624 had an outer repeater, 624RR, on the same structure as DM74.

– SN81 was UM75.

Photos around the Swindon Panel area

There are now over 1100 photos in the Swindon Panel photo gallery!

There are a lot of photos of the panel itself at various staged in its history, and now there is a set of albums for around the area that Swindon Panel controls, showing signals, points, junctions and other trackside paraphernalia that goes with a signalling system!

We hope you like them!

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.