Disused signal box north-east of Weston-Super-Mare Railway Station


Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II

List Entry Number: 1129748

Date first listed: 17-Aug-1987

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Feb-2018

Statutory Address: Neva Road, Weston-Super-Mare, North Somerset, BS23 1XY


Ordnance survey map of Disused signal box north-east of Weston-Super-Mare Railway Station
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Statutory Address: Neva Road, Weston-Super-Mare, North Somerset, BS23 1XY

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: North Somerset (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Weston-Super-Mare

National Grid Reference: ST3246661108


Decommissioned signal box, built around 1866 for the Bristol and Exeter Railway, extended in the early C20.

Reasons for Designation

The disused signal box north-east of Weston-super-Mare railway station which dates from 1866 is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Historical interest: * The Weston-super-Mare box is considered to be the oldest surviving signal box on the British rail system;

Architectural interest: * A good and legible example of a mid-C19 signal box which is relatively unaltered externally;

Group value: * A strong historic and visual relationship with the Grade-II listed railway station of 1875-76.


From the 1840s, huts or cabins were provided for men operating railway signals. These were often located on raised platforms containing levers to operate the signals and in the early 1860s, the fully glazed signal box, initially raised high on stilts to give a good view down the line, emerged. The interlocking of signals and points, perhaps the most important single advance in rail safety, patented by John Saxby in 1856, was the final step in the evolution of railway signalling into a form recognisable today. Signal boxes were built to a great variety of different designs and sizes to meet traffic needs by signalling contractors and the railway companies themselves.

Signal box numbers peaked at around 12,000-13,000 for Great Britain just prior to the First World War, and successive economies in working led to large reductions in their numbers from the 1920s onwards. British Railways inherited around 10,000 in 1948 and numbers dwindled rapidly to about 4000 by 1970. In 2012, about 750 remained in use; it was anticipated that most would be rendered redundant over the next decade.

The signal box at Weston-super-Mare was constructed in 1866. It was built for the Bristol and Exeter Railway (B&ER) who were allied with the Great Western Railway (GWR) and shared the same chief engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The line from Bristol to Exeter was laid out between 1841-1844, and the first section was opened between Bristol and Bridgwater on 14 June 1841. This section was 54km in length, with a 3km single-track branch line to Weston-super-Mare. The town’s first station opened in 1841 (on the site of what was to become Alexander Parade Gardens). In 1866 a new station was built to the south (now the site of a supermarket), accommodating a newly-expanded double-track branch line and the signal box was built 300m to the south-east. In 1879 the B&ER amalgamated with the GWR, and in 1884 a new railway loop line was completed, replacing the Weston branch line. A new station was built on a bend in the line and the earlier station was then used for goods. The signal box appears to have remained in use and in the early C20 a southern bay was added, possibly to accommodate a larger level frame. The box had been decommissioned by the late C20, by which time the surrounding tracks had been removed.


Decommissioned signal box, built around 1866 for the Bristol and Exeter Railway; extended in the early C20.

MATERIALS: coursed-squared limestone with Bath stone dressings and Welsh slate roof.

PLAN: a rectangular plan orientated north-west to south-east; the left-hand bay is a later addition.

EXTERIOR: a two-storey signal box with first-floor windows. The north-east elevation windows of eight and 21 panes in Bath stone frames. The right-hand corner of this elevation is chamfered. The north and south gable ends each contain a four-pane sash, and there is a ground–floor door in the south-gable end. The windows have all been boarded over. The remains of an external wooden stair and porch are attached to the south-west elevation. Iron ties are visible at the south end.

INTERIOR: there is a store on the ground floor and an operational room above which was accessed via the external staircase. The building has a tie-beam roof. The lever frame and all other operating equipment has been removed.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 33266

Legacy System: LBS


Books and journals
La Trobe-Bateman, Emily, Russett, Vince, Avon Extensive Urban Areas Survey Weston-Super-Mare, (1999)
Vaughan, A, A Pictorial Record of Great Western Architecture, (1977), 142-3
Bristol & Exeter Railway, Great Western Railway, BR Western Region, accessed 16 August 2017 from http://great-devon-railway.uk/BRISTOL%20%26%20EXETER%20RAILWAY.html
Historic England: Signal Boxes Introduction to Heritage Assets, accessed 16 August 2017 from https://content.historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/iha-signal-boxes/heag137-signal-boxes-iha.pdf
John Minnis, Railway Signal Boxes: A Review, English Heritage Research Report Series No. 28-2012, accessed 16 August 2017 from http://services.english-heritage.org.uk/ResearchReportsPdfs/028-2012WEB.pdf

End of official listing