Demolished, but site still accessible
The Clackline junction signal box was located on the island platform of this curiously-named station situated at 62 Miles 61 Chains from Fremantle along the Eastern Railway of the W. A. G. R. This station was notable as being the junction for the Newcastle (later named Toodyay) Branch. In apperance, the signal box was similar to the Mount Helena signal cabin.
Four years prior to the provision of the signal box, signalling at Clackline junction was very rudimentary, as can be seen from the following instructions to Drivers issued amongst other stations entries, on page 10 of the Appendix to Working Time Book No. 1 of September 1892,"
...Clackline. - Approaching Clackline Station from Beverley way, a single arm Semaphore is fixed on the Main Line, and used as a “Home Signal.” Branch Trains to approach Junction and Station very cautiously, and Driver to satisfy himself Line is clear..."
The railway through Clackline Junction was originally built as a single line, and worked under the rules governing the "Train Staff and Ticket system".
From September 1892 the sections were:
Chidlow's Well to Clackline - Shape of Staff Handle: Round; Colour of Staff: Black and Yellow.
Clackline junction to Spencer's Brook - Shape of Staff Handle: Round; Colour of Staff: Green and Yellow.
Clackline junction to Newcastle (later named Toodyay) - Shape of Staff Handle: Round; Colour of Staff: Caledonian Grey.
The Appendix to the Working Time Table - 1st February, 1901 reveals that Clackline Junction, on the Eastern Railway - Fremantle to Northam section, was a 4th Class station.
It was provided with a 250 foot 'UP' Passenger Platform (exclusive of ramps); a 250 foot long 'DOWN' Passenger Platform (exclusive of ramps); 40 foot loading banks - including horse & carriage, (exclusive of ramp); two 6000 gallon water tanks; a 40 foot Engine Turntable; a Station Master's House; Latrines for Ladies and Urinals for Gents provided and that the Station was situated on the Right and Left Hand Side 'ex Fremantle'.
Many of the above items can be seen in the excellent early photograph of Clackline junction, which also shows the reservoir used for locomotive water.
Page 5, of the same document further reveals that the "Electric Train Staff system" was in use through Clackline Junction on the Main Lines. The sections were then as follows:
Baker’s Hill to Clackline junction was coloured RED with a Round shaped head.
Clackline Junction to Mokine was coloured BLUE with an Oblong shaped head.
The Newcastle (later named Toodyay) Branch was still worked under the "Train Staff and Ticket system" with the shape of Staff Handle being Round, and the Colour of the Staff being BLUE.
At the same time, the Local Instructions for the station read as follows:
"Engine Drivers and Guards must have their trains well under control when approaching this station on the Down journey. In the event of two trains approaching simultaneously, precedence must be given to the Up train, in order to avoid, whenever possible, stopping on the grade. When the Down train arrives first, it must be brought to a stand at the Home Signal (provided a train is also approaching from Newcastle) before being admitted into the station. Special care must be exercised to properly secure any trucks that have been detached and when temporarily allowed to stand in the loop, all brakes must be pinned down, and the leading vehicles spragged in the direction of Newcastle."
Author's Note: A Sprag was a square length of timber, approximately three feet in length, tapered at each end. The tapered ends were painted White. Sprags were placed in the spokes of the wheels of railway wagons to stop the wheels turning. This was intended to prevent vehicles from 'running away'. Guard's Vans were usually supplied with a quantity of these to assist in shunting and emergency situations. The term "Sprag" was also the nickname given to the Guard of a train!
These instructions were an early recognition of problems being experienced with working trains over the line's gradients. Four years later, an additional siding was provided. This was described in Weekly Notice 29 of 1905 as: "... a new loop off back platform road at Clackline is complete and fit for traffic. Points are connected to the signal cabin, and catch points at each end of the siding are provided with point indicators."
At about 5 p.m. on Thursday, 19th September, 1907 the duplication of the Eastern Railway was completed to Clackline junction and the method of safeworking along the main lines changed to from single line Electric Staff working to double line Absolute Block working using Winters Two-Position instruments. As a result of this, the signal-box at Karrijine was cut out and "Not in Use" boards fixed on the signal arms there. The signals were of course eventually removed entirely.
Adjacent stations and cabins along the line over the years were - on the West (Up) side: Baker's Hill (formerly Mount Baker); Koojedda; Karrijine (later Coates); Wundowie; Werribee; Wooroloo. On the Main Line - Eastern (Down) side - was: 54 1/4 Mile Signal Box (a Block Box rendered obsolete with the coming of colour-light signalling); Mokine and Spencer's Brook - the junction station for lines to Northam and York.
This author is grateful to Mr. Alan Penstone for supplying copies of photos of a family waiting for a train at Clackline around 1946, amongst these images were a distance view from the rail side of the station building located on the Up Platform, and also, a closeup of the island platform station building taken from the Back Platform side. In this latter image, note the use of diagonal boarding on the signal box walls just under the windows. Also, the 'rodding tunnel' under the platform can be clearly seen. These substantial platforms still stand, but alas the timber buildings have all long gone.
On Tuesday, September 29, 1959, Diagram of Signalling C. C. E. 49260 was published in Weekly Notice 39 / 1959 and the Two-Position Absolute block signalling system between Koojedda and Clackline was suspended, as three-aspect Automatic Colour Light Signalling was introduced. Only the Down Home signals and the Up advanced starting signal were removed and replaced with Semi-Automatic Colour Light signals however, as the section via the 54 ¼ Mile Signal Box and Mokine to Spencer's Brook was still being worked by Absolute Block working using Winters Two-Position instruments.
An entry in W. N. 28 / 1960 pronounced:
"EASTERN RAILWAY - Clackline Spencers Brook - Signalling. - On Tuesday, 12th July, 1960. the following alterations to signalling will take place on the above mentioned route, and Diagram of Signalling Chief Civil Engineer 49260A as outlined on centre pages of this Weekly Notice will apply. The "Two Position" block signalling system between Clackline and Spencers Brook will be suspended and Automatic Signalling introduced."
In addition it was stated that...
"...An illuminated diagram is provided in the signal box to show the condition of the adjacent track sections."
Foreshadowing things to come, Weekly Notice 4 / 1966 announced:
"EASTERN RAILWAY. - Miling Branch. - On Saturday, 5th February, 1966, the following Train Staff and Ticket Sections will be closed:-
CLACKLINE - KEY FARM. COLOUR, GREEN.
KEY FARM - TOODYAY. COLOUR, BLUE."
With the diversion of rail traffic to the Avon Valley Route on the 13th of February 1966, the future of the line through Clackline might have looked bleak, however the line remained in use through to Wundowie from Spencer's Brook and Spring Hill for about 15 years after the closure for ore trains to service the Wundowie Foundry.
Apart from the copious quantity of trees that now obscure most of the turntable area, any keen hiker or signalling enthusiast replete with a signalling diagram of Clackline for guidance can easily find the station platforms, location of the signal cabin, and even the locations of the turntable pits, etc. The site is readily accessible, being only metres from the Great Eastern Highway, directly opposite the local General Store.
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
Thanks to David Beazley for additional information
Diagram of Signalling courtesy of the Rail Heritage WA Archives
Photograph of Clackline Junction © courtesy Battye Library
Photograph of Sprag © and courtesy Chris. J. E. French
Photograph Clackline Signal cabin supplied by Alan Penstone
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