Bardon Mill Station Signal Box


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Sited on the south side of the line west of Bardon Mill station, Bardon Mill, Hexham, Northumberland, NE47 7EN.


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

Location Description:
Sited on the south side of the line west of Bardon Mill station, Bardon Mill, Hexham, Northumberland, NE47 7EN.
Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Railway signal box, built around 1874, by and for the North Eastern Railway Company for the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway. Type N1 design of the 1870s-1890s.

Reasons for Designation

Bardon Mill Station Signal Box, built about 1874, is listed at Grade II for the following principle reasons:

Architectural interest: * as a relatively early, little altered example of a Type N1 signal box designed by the Northern division of the NER.

Historic interest: * dating from about 1874, it is one of the earliest surviving NER Type N1 signal boxes.

Group value: * it benefits from a functional and spatial group value with the Grade II-listed Station House (List entry 1156426) located to the east.


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 4,000 by 1970, with fewer than 700 surviving today. It is anticipated that most will be rendered redundant over the next decade.

The Newcastle and Carlisle Railway Company (N&CR) was formed in 1825 and built from 1829 onwards. The entire route was officially opened on 18 June 1838 following the construction of the line between Haydon Bridge and Blenkinsopp (near Greenhead), with Bardon Mill as an intermediate station along the line. The N&CR was absorbed into the North Eastern Railway Company (NER) in 1862. The NER divided its civil engineering and signalling into three divisions, the Southern, Central and Northern, each with its own distinctive designs. Bardon Mill Station Signal Box dates to the third phase of railway development but the initial phase in the development of signal boxes (the late 1860s-1870s). It follows the earliest standard in-house design produced by the Northern Division, which was under the direction of the NER architect Thomas Prosser, now categorised as Type N1 by the Signalling Study Group. It was built around 1874 to control the small station of Bardon Mill (List entry 1156426, Grade II) and level-crossing located east of the signal box, on the north side of the track. Bardon Mill Station Signal Box was altered to an electric circuit and reduced to unstaffed status in 1967, being retained for operational flexibility during engineering works. In 2012 seven NER Type N1s were identified: Ashington, Bedlington South, Newsham, Chathill, Haydon Bridge and Prudhoe. Chathill (built around 1873 on the North Sunderland Railway line), is listed whilst Ashington has been demolished. It is expected that none will be operational within the next decade. Bardon Mill Station Signal Box is one of the earliest Type N1s and was de-commissioned in November 2019. The railway line (now known as the Tyne Valley Line) remains operational between Newcastle-Hexham-Carlisle and currently three later NER Type N5 signal boxes, at Wylam (1897), Haltwhistle (1901) and Hexham (1901), are listed along its stretch.


Railway signal box, built around 1874, by and for the North Eastern Railway Company for the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway. Type N1 design of the 1870s-1890s.

MATERIALS: red brick laid in English Garden Wall bond with a timber porch and stairs to the upper operating floor; Welsh slate roof with round ridge tiles to the ridge and hips.

EXTERIOR: prominently sited on the south side of the railway track, the two-storey signal box is built in red brick, laid to English Garden Wall bond, with foundations built in rock-faced coursed stone and a low-pitched hipped Welsh slate roof. A raised operating floor is accessed on the east side via a right-hand turn wooden stair and an external timber porch with a three-over-three window and a C20 external door. The north front (track side) and sides are continuously glazed with horizontal sliding sashes, with regular, narrow glazing bars; one sash on the east elevation and two sashes on the north and west elevations. The windows sit on a plain stone string course. At ground floor level there is a locker room with an access door below the porch in the east wall and a window in the north wall, both with stone lintels.

INTERIOR: the raised operating floor retains a glass nine-pane internal porch door and ceiling with a timber hip, and jack and common roof rafters partially exposed and painted. Only part of the wooden operating floor is present following the recent removal of a reconditioned McKenzie & Holland 20-lever frame and block shelf said to be inserted around 1966. It was originally set to the rear of the box with the operator, unusually, facing away from the tracks. The locker room retains the brick support for a fireplace or stove originally set in the south wall of the raised operating floor and a nine-pane timber window frame with regular, narrow glazing bars in the north wall.


Books and journals
Minnis, J, Railway Signal Boxes, a Review, (2012), 36
Vanns, A, The Signal Box: A Pictorial History and Guide to Designs, (1997)
On Track Images: Bardon Mill Signal Box 11 December 2015, accessed 11 December 2019 from


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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