Bassendean - SignallingWA

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Signal Cabins in WA


WAGR - Eastern Railway (E. R.)

1938 WAGR MAP Mileage = 7  

Lat:  31.903439 S

Long:  115.947352 E

Next Down Cabin:

Next Up Cabin:



Quick Facts







22 Levers

Signal Panel - 13 'levers'

Demolished during electrification

The Bassendean signal Cabin, opened on May 16th 1903. The cabin was a timber and corrugated iron structure, and was built over the top of the Bassendean station buildings, themselves on an island platform.

Although perhaps unusual in the metropolitan area, it was similar to the 100 lever Brunswick Junction cabin built in 1941 on the South Western Railway. The elevation of both cabins certainly afforded the Signalmen with sweeping views of the area of their control. At Bassendean today, the station canopy remains, but the cabin, and the building directly under it which supported the cabin, have been removed. The new building does have a small section of roof raised slightly in homage to the former cabin. Brunswick Junction fared worse however, and was subjected to a complete demolition during the 1980's with the coming of the long-awaited signalling of the line by Centralised Train Control (C. T. C.) - operated from Picton.

The photo of the exterior, taken from the original pedestrian footbridge, clearly shows the position of the Bassendean Signal Cabin. Access to the cabin was by an enclosed stairwell on the far end of the cabin in this view. At least that looks 'original' the 'Signalman's convenience' on the other hand looks very much like an 'add-on'! The Up Main Line is in the left foreground, and just out of frame on the left is the single standard guage main line in use at the time to gain access to "Perth Terminal" and the 'super works' at Ashfield.

The station record card for Bassendean shows that it carried the previous name of 17 Mile Box, being renamed such in 1914. Curiously, the record card also shows another change of name in July 1922 to Cavendish. There is no mention of the name being changed back, and SignallingWA research has not uncovered any supporting evidence for this second change of identity, or reversion to Bassendean.

The record card for 17 Mile Box also echoes this strange re-naming, and even adds to the mystery as it records that the station was known as Bassendean & Whatley. As usual, we are always willing to receive further evidence, so if you know the story about this station with an "identity crisis", then we would be pleased to hear from you so that we can put the record straight.

Other cabins along the line over the years which worked with Bassendean were - on the Western (Up) side: Ashfield (a Block Box); Bayswater; Meltham (a Block Box); Maylands; Mount Lawley; Summer Street or East Perth (Claisebrook). On the Eastern (Down) side - with: Guildford; East Guildford (a Block Box); West Midland (a Block Box); or Midland Box 'A' (and finally the Midland Panel in the last years of it's life). Bassendean was eventually absorbed into the Control Panel of Train Control in the East Perth Terminal.

The many industrial sidings and Goods shed at Bassendean are now gone. Also, the Narrow Gauge access to Brady's Ceilings and Standard / Dual Gauge sidings into the (now demolished) C.S.B.P. (Cresco) Superphosphate Works at the Perth end of the 'Mad Mile'.

These days, Bassendean is a stopping place only on the dual-gauge "Midland Line" of the electrified suburban system. The "Indian - Pacific", "Trans Australian", "Prospector" and "Avon Link" railcar services pass by, as do narrow guage Electrical Multiple Units, which call at very regular intervals. 'Basso' has also seen the famous locomotives "Pendennis Castle" and "Flying Scotsman" pass along its platforms. Despite all the alterations, there is still a remnant of the yard in place. This is in the form of a connection to Goninan's works for contract diesel locomotive maintainence, and also to service the sidings of the Rail Heritage WA Museum at Bassendean.

The view of the interior of 'Basso' Cabin seems a little dark - because it was! Like Fremantle Box 'A', it only housed a 22 lever frame. With the bottom windows painted over, and the fact that there was only a single, tiny window in the back of the cabin, natural illumination was in short supply! Note: The bell plungers mounted on brackets over the Siemens General Electric shelf indicator lights; the worn silver paint on the lever handles; the beautiful Signal Cabin Clock above and to the left of the diagram; and in some places the S.G.E. shelf lights on the right have been mounted under the shelf to make room for a small panel - which extended the cabin's 'levers' during the construction of the Standard Guage. The illuminated track diagram also shows a train on the Down platform. In contrast to Maylands, 'Basso' always seemed very cluttered and 'bitty'.

One event at Bassendean had repercussions in other signal cabins here in Western Australia. The story starts with the mysterious 'cutting in' of the cabin after the normal Signalman's shift had finished. Once 'cut in', the cabin was worked and then 'cut out' a few hours later - but not before the culprit had been apprehended! It turned out that a person very knowledgeable in the workings of the railways and signal cabins, had taken it upon himself to 'try his hand' at signalling. It is believed that while he did not actually cause any problems, the potential for disaster was clearly evident to the railway department and immediate steps were taken. An instruction was issued that any metropolitan cabin unattended or 'not in use' for an extended period of time was to be fitted with an Annett's Lock
- the Annett's Key being kept under separate 'lock and key' (usually in a station's safe). (Country signalling installations, for the most part, already had this in place). It is known that this certainly became the case at Claremont and Subiaco Cabins.

Any additional information on this signal cabin would be most welcome - please use the e-mail form provided on this page.

Information researched and interpreted by Chris. J. E. French
of SignallingWA
Photographs © by C
hris. J. E. French

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This list may not be complete and does not yet include employees who worked here without being appointed




Thornber, Cecil N. 19/12/1926 Porter
Bealing, Claude C. 04/12/1928 Junior Worker
Blakeley, James C. 24/06/1929 Signalman - 3rd Class
Vettler, Rupert P. 24/06/1929 Signalman - 4th Class
Simpson, Jessup J. 28/08/1929 Signalman - 3rd Class
Anderson, Francis J. 28/10/1929 Junior Worker
Durrant, Alfred
Signalman - 3rd Class
Davis, Frederick F.

Vettler, Rupert P.
Signalman - 3rd Class
Allardice, Alexander C.
Signalman - 3rd Class
Wilton, Martin A.
Signalman - 3rd Class
Briggs, Leslie T.
Signalman - 3rd Class
Dennis, Leslie A.
Signalman - 3rd Class
Field, John C.

Mills, Harry
Cormack, John A.

Cheeseman, Edward

Freeman, Frank D.
Signalman - 3rd Class
Mills, Harry
Signalman - 3rd Class
Sullivan, Richard J.

Casey, Francis J.
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Riseley, Denys

Mann, Reginal H.

Sanders, Ernest W.

Sanders, Ernest W.
Relief Signalman
Fitzgerald, Clarence S. J.

Hale, Norman R.
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Antaley, Michael L. A.
O'Loughlin, Allen W.
Relief Signalman - 3rd Class
O'Loughlin, Allen W.
Signalman - 3rd Class
Curtis, William C.
Signalman - 2nd Class
Mays, Ronald L.

Fitzgerald, Clarence S. J.
Relief Signalman - 3rd Class
Fitzgerald, Clarence S. J.
Signalman - 2nd Class
Everett, Keith E.
Relief Signalman - 2nd Class
Bukovskis, Janis
Signalman - 2nd Class
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