Wainfleet Signal Box


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Wainfleet Signal Box, Station Road, Wainfleet All Saints, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire


Ordnance survey map of Wainfleet Signal Box
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Statutory Address:
Wainfleet Signal Box, Station Road, Wainfleet All Saints, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire

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

East Lindsey (District Authority)
Wainfleet All Saints
National Grid Reference:


Type 1 Great Northern Railway signal box, built in 1899.

Reasons for Designation

Wainfleet signal box, built for the Great Northern Railway in 1899, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: it represents a good example of a late GNR type 1 signal box; * Intactness: it remains substantially unaltered and retains external and significant internal details, including its lever frame.


In the 1840s railway signalling was controlled from raised platforms containing a hut for the signalman. The roofed and glazed structures that became familiar in the second half of the C19 and remained a part of the landscape of railways into the C21 were conceived by John Saxby in 1856 to house his newly patented invention, one which allowed mechanical interlocking between signals and points. Saxby's first signal boxes, a new and distinctive building type, were constructed in 1857, with the only subsequent modification to his basic form the addition of an enclosed lower storey containing the locking apparatus. Although this form, determined by function, remained consistent, materials, size, detail and decoration could be varied across the different designs produced by both railway companies and signalling contractors.

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.

Wainfleet signal box is a Type 1 box of the Great Northern Railway (GNR), the earliest of which appeared in 1872. Type 1 boxes were built of brick or timber, the last brick examples dating to the 1890s. The signal box at Wainfleet, which appears to be substantially unaltered, was built in 1899 and retains its original Railway Signal Co lever frame. The wheel mechanism for raising the crossing gates, originally located between the lever frame and the entrance to the operations room, has been removed.


Type 1 Great Northern Railway signal box, built in 1899; brick with slate roof.

EXTERIOR: the signal box is rectangular in plan, with a pitched, slate roof, with finials and timber bargeboards which have a simple decorative motif of recessed panels. The south-west elevation contains two, four-paned sash windows under segmental arches to each floor. The floors contain the operations room with locking room beneath. The north-east, track-side elevation has two, four-paned sash windows to the locking room, with a continuous run of 6x6 paned, Yorkshire sash windows to the upper, operations room, turning the corners to the gable ends. The entrance to the operations room is in the south-east gable end, accessed by an external metal stair; the door to the locking room is immediately below. A walkway supported on metal brackets runs around three sides of the building below the operations room windows, and there is a tall chimney towards the north-west corner.

INTERIOR: the operations room contains a lever frame with block shelf and equipment above. Although the operating system is manual, signalling is electronic. In addition to the signalling mechanism, the locking room contains a bench or low shelf supported on metal brackets running almost the whole length of the room.


Books and journals
Kay, P, Coe, D, Signalling Atlas and Signal Box Directory Great Britain and Ireland, (2004)
Minnis, J, Railway Signal Boxes, a Review, (2012)
Vanns, A, An Illustrated History of Great Northern Railway Signalling, (2000)
, accessed from www.tillyweb.biz
The Signal Box Website, accessed from www.signalbox.org


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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