Carlisle - SignallingWA

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Signal Cabins in WA


WAGR - South Western Railway (S. W. R. - Suburban)

1938 WAGR MAP Mileage = 5

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McK & H No. 9 Pattern

Signal Cabin is preserved at Rail Heritage WA

If there was such a thing as a typical WA signal cabin, Carlisle could be said to resemble the archetypal Old Soldier, having a well-defined and honourable career followed by a period during which it simply faded away. By that metric Carlisle was very atypical, with an obscure origin and a long continuing existence long after its service life came to an end.

Named after a famous city on the Scottish border, Carlisle is a suburb some 4 and half miles from Perth on the South West Railway (or the South West main as it was colloquially known), which connects Perth with Bunbury and he South West. The suburb was originally named Victoria Park East, taking its name present name in 1919.  Carlisle’s path to the world of interlocking began in May 1909, when a Mr Haydon’s opened a machinery factory on the up side of the railway a short distance north of Mint Street, a major local artery.
The siding, or Heydon’s machinery siding as it was known, consisted of a dead-end siding trailing off the up main 4 miles 39 chains from Perth. In accordance with the standard WAGR practice applicable to sidings in double line absolute block working territory the siding was protected by Home and Distant signals worked from a small Annetts key locked frame. Following it’s opening passenger trains stopped at the siding, no doubt primarily to set down and pick up factory workers, this practice continuing until 2nd of July 1912, when a stopping place at the Mint Street level crossing was opened. This stopping place was located 4 miles 51 chains from Perth and consisted of an unstaffed island platform known as Mint Street, being renamed Victoria Park East in November that year.

In July 1921 a public siding was opened at Carlisle. The WAGR probably took the most expedient path of extending Haydon’s machinery siding (then known as the

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State Saw Siding following its takeover by the WA state government in May 1919) south towards Mint Street.

The Weekly Notice recording the opening makes no mention of any interlocking arrangement that would have been required – and promulgated-had a new public siding been connected to the main line, strongly suggesting that the simple ( and cheapest) option had been adopted.

Carlisle became an attended station on 1 September 1922. The station facilities almost certainly did not include a signal box: the relevant entry in the Weekly Notices recording its opening made no reference to the station having any interlocking or signals, either of which would have been mentioned as a matter of course.

The box appears to have opened either in May 1928 or sometime thereafter. The 1928 WAGR Annual report reported that siding and interlocking improvements at Carlisle had been completed in April 1928, while Weekly Notice no 20 of 1928 recorded that Carlisle’s entry in the 1922 General Appendix was to be amended by adding the cryptic addition that the station was interlocked.  This probably meant that a signal box and a siding had been installed at the station although it is not beyond the realms of possibility that only a siding had been installed. In the first decade of the 20th Century the WAGR used the term “interlocking” loosely, using the term to include both the installation of signal boxes and sidings which were locked by Train Staffs or Annetts Keys, and a terminological relapse remains a possibility.  

Whatever the WAGR may have meant, the Carlisle signal box was certainly open by January 1930, the Working Timetable for that year recording that the box was opened only “as required”.

Carlisle was equipped with a Down Distant, a Down Home and a Down Starter, an Up distant, an Up Starter and an Up Advanced Starter. Point work consisted of a trailing crossover at the down end, and a dead-end siding trailing off the Up main on the Perth side of the Mint Street level crossing. The crossover was probably installed to facilitate wrong line working during emergencies or trackwork. It was totally unsuitable for goods working: any Down goods train operating in accordance with the rule book train attempting to work the siding would have had to set back onto the Up only to find itself in the embarrassing predicament of being at the wrong end of the wagons that it was trying to shunt into the dead end.  Precisely why an advanced starter was installed is not now clear: it may have been to increase line capacity facilitate working of the State Saw Mills siding, alternatively, it may have been installed to allow closer headway for up trains negotiating the Rivervale Bank, the long climb that took the South West Main over the ridge that separated the Swan River from the more level country to the South East.

Carlisle worked with Rivervale on the Up side and Welshpool on the Down side. Winters two-position instruments were used. The cabin was a standard gable roofed WAGR weatherboard signal box, and probably housed a 9 lever frame.

Initially Carlisle box appears to have seen little use. The South West main traversed mostly rural countryside and passenger trains were relatively few, while goods trains from the South of the state tended to bypass Perth travelling directly to Fremantle by the Armadale to Robbs Jetty line. The box tended to be opened for the passage of the occasional race train or special working.

By 1941 the box was opened on weekdays this probably being a consequence of the wartime upswing in traffic and, in particular, the opening of a large munitions factory at Welshpool. Carlisle’s wartime hours of opening spanned a short quarter or so period on weekday mornings and about two hours during those afternoons.  Such opening hours indicate that the box did not have a dedicated signalman (who would have spent most of his shift idle) but, rather, was worked either by the station-master, or perhaps a porter qualified in safeworking, in addition to their other duties.

The wartime upsurge in traffic abated somewhat at the end of hostilities but not enough to see Carlisle’s return to the days when its opening was an occasional affair. Carlisle remained an attended box throughout the remainder of its life, mostly switched in to service the morning and afternoon weekday peaks.

The mid to late 1950s surge in road transport coupled with changing traffic patterns resulted in suburban public sidings such as Carlisle rapidly become redundant: as the Irishman said the early 1960s saw the amount traffic passing through the Carlisle’s public siding increasingly decreasing.  In October 1967 Carlisle’s public siding closed for good, however, the nearby State Saw Mills siding (continued to be a steady source of traffic. The State Saw Mills facility passed to Hawker Siddeley Building Supplies in 1962, following the sale of the State Saw Mills and the State Brickworks to that Company. Aviation aficionados will immediately recognise the name Hawker Siddeley: the local company was a subsidiary of the famous UK Company  Hawker Siddeley Aviation Pty Ltd which was a direct descendant of the company that built such aviation legends as the Hurricane, Tempest,  Typhoon, Sea Fury, Hunter and Harrier. Rumour has it that the sale was predicated on the unwritten promise that Hawker would build an airframe factory in WA, although how potential customers could be persuaded to buy airplanes made from wood and brick was never explained.  

Although Carlisle station was the accounting station for the State Saw Mills traffic this siding was outsides Carlisle’s Station Limits. The siding was Annetts key locked with the key residing at Cannington until October 1959, when it was transferred to a box attached to a post adjacent to the siding frame.  Prior to 1959, the General Appendix instructions directed guards needing to shunt the siding to obtain the key at Cannington and leave it at Rivervale for return by the next Down train. The requirement that the key be kept at Cannington rather than at Carlisle might seem strange, but was probably a reflection of Cannington’s status as a station that was more likely to be more intensively attended, and more regularly shunted than Carlisle was during the first decades of the boxes’ existence.

In February, 1963 the Annetts key was transferred to Carlisle. The general Appendix was altered to reflect this. The amendments are worth repeating in full, for they shed light on WAGR workings which have forever vanished, as well as giving us a clue as to the lever numbers.

                                                                State Mill Siding Carlisle
 This siding is operated by a small lever frame controlled by an Annetts Key. When it is necessary to shunt the Mill-siding, trains must stop at the Carlisle signal box and the guard will obtain the Annetts Key which is located in the station lever frame. Should the station be unattended, the guard must enter the signal box and place signals Nos. 1, 2 and 3 to the stop position.  When a train is ready to proceed to shunt the Mill siding, and not before, the guard must place No. 3 signal to the clear position in order to operate the flashlight signals at the level crossing (flashlights  level crossing protection was installed at the Mint Street level crossing in 1949 (ed) ).
 The lever must not be pulled over until the shunt move is ready to proceed, as unnecessary flashing of the crossing lights will result. When the locomotive has passed the Up Starting Signal, No. 3 lever must also be placed to the stop position. This will permit the Annetts Key on the left hand side of the signal frame to be withdrawn for use in unlocking the Mill siding. When the station is attended the Officer-in-Charge will be responsible for the working. When shunting has been completed the Annetts Key must be returned to the left hand duplicate lock in the lever frame at the station signal box, and when the train is .ready to depart  the signals worked by levers Nos. 1, 2 and 3 restored to the clear position.
 To prevent the main line crossover No 8 being used when the station is unattended, the Annetts Key at the right-hand end of the signal frame must be withdrawn and locked in the safe before the Officer-in-Charge ceases duty. All shunt moves over the level crossings must not exceed 5 m.p.h. Special care must be exercised when returning from the Mill siding that this speed is not exceeded otherwise insufficient warning to level · crossing users will result.”

By the early 1960s it had become apparent that Carlisle’s signal box was living on borrowed time. Automatic double line signalling had been introduced on the eastern Railway between Fremantle and Midland and the cost savings, to say nothing about increase in track capacity, were such that its introduction on the SW main was inevitable. Funds were found to introduce double line automatic working between Rivervale an Armadale, although for various reasons the work had to be done in stages. The first stage, from Rivervale to Welshpool, was opened on Sunday 31st July 1966. Weekly Notice Number 28 of 1966 announced, in advance, Carlisle’s requiem, advising all concerned that that the existing Two Position Block System between Rivervale and Welshpool was to be withdrawn and replaced with Three Aspect Colour Light Automatic Signalling. Carlisle’s semaphore signals were to be removed and the crossover between the Up and Down main lines was to be taken out of use, spiked, locked, with removal to occur at a later date.

The interlocked points to the Public Siding and Hawker Siddeley Siding were to receive a reprieve, being controlled by intermediate Switch Locks.  For a brief period, Carlisle vied with East Perth as the location with the greatest density of Switchlocked sidings, each having two apiece. East Perth regained the crown some 15 months later when the public siding was removed.

The following Weekly Notice, No 29 of 1966, detailed the working of the flashing light protected level crossing at Mint Street and issued new instructions about the working of the Electric Switchlocks. The Hawker Siddeley siding was to survive for almost another decade, being removed in January 1976. By that stage Carlisle had long ceased to be an attended station, reduced to unstaffed halt with no accounting or booking responsibilities.

Two weeks later, Carlisle box’s death knell was rung in an entry requiring the amendment of Page 9 of Working Time Table Book 2. under the heading Absolute Block Stations. The amendment merely said: “Delete Carlisle.”

The box now masquerades as Maddington signal cabin, a necessary bit of subterfuge due to it being equipped with Maddington’s frame (Carlisle’s was not saved for some reason) a bit of unofficial fudging with which many an old soldier would no doubt agree.

NOTE: This page is under development - please check back later, however, if you have any additional information on this signal cabin, it would be most welcome - please use the e-mail form provided.

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 SIGWA member Justin Smith. Photos as credited in the captions.

Additional reference: "Station Masters of WA" by J. Austin 2011

This page is copyright, and permission must be sought from SignallingWA before this page is used for any purpose other than personal education.

CARLISLE Employees

This list may not be complete and does not yet include employees who worked here without being appointed.
Where an appointment date is unknown, the Weekly Notice (WN) date advising of the appointment or other official documentation, i.e. Certificate of Competency (CC) will be used.




Richards, A. H. 01/09/1922 to November 1928 Station Master
Fullerton, G. E. November 1928 to June 1947
Station Master
Orchard, S. E. June 1947 to June 1965 Station Master
Stokes, H. J. 19/05/1956 - W.N. 19 / 1956 Porter
Sanders, Ernest William 09/03/1964 Porter
Puslednik, S. June 1965 to May 1971 Station Master
     Is a name missing?
Please submit any corrections / additions with suitable evidence using the e-mail form above.
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