Claremont (3) - SignallingWA

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Claremont (3)

Signal Cabins in WA


WAGR - Eastern Railway (E. R.)

1938 WAGR MAP Mileage = 6

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? Levers


Fate: Unknown

An entry in the fourth Weekly Notice of 1902 proclaimed that on Wednesday, 15th of January, 1902 the Signals and Interlocking at Claremont Station will be connected to the New Signal Cabin situated at the Fremantle end of the 'Up' Platform. As can be seen in the above sketch, this cabin, the third Signal Box at Claremont, was situated in line with the 'Up' platform. It was not built onto it or adjacent to it, instead it was positioned on the ground past the end ramp. As this is the only record to date of this box's existence, it is unclear whether the structure was a raised structure or not. On closer inspection of the sketch, there is an indication of a staircase on the right hand side, which would lend some weight to that belief.

It is perplexing that for a vital structure such as this third Signal Box at Claremont, which stood in a very prominent place at an important station yet remained invisible to any photographer's lens. So why place it there? It is entirely probable that the impetus for moving to a new cabin at that location was the requirement to provide the Signalman with a clear and closer view of the adjacent level crossing. With rapidly increasing rail traffic as the railways expanded, safety, including the avoidance of costly collisions was necessary. Control of the crossing gates meant a balance had to be struck for the efficient and safe passage of both rail and road traffic.

So, in order to bring some mechanised order from the chaos of the signalman having to leave the box to open and close the gates by hand, a set of beautifully detailed drawings of 25 foot wide Crossing Gates for Claremont were provided by the draughtsmen at McKenzie and Holland on the 6th May, 1901. For some as yet to be discerned reason, the level crossing gates were not connected to the Signal Cabin until the 7th April 1902, which completed the new interlocking arrangement.

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As with most level crossing controls at the time, the gates were worked by the Signalman turning a large wheel near the end of the lever frame.

1903 was, at least for the first half of the year fairly uneventful, with the notable exception of the Down Distant Signal being moved on 12th January 1903 to a position 60 yards nearer to the Down Home Signal. Following that, track maintenance work was the order of the day from 11th June until July. To facilitate the track works it was found necessary to introduce signal line working, as was announces in the following entry in Weekly Notice 40 of 1903 :-

E. R. - Single Line working between 5 miles 20 chains and Claremont.
            On Sunday, 27th inst., at 10 a.m., single line working will be instituted between mileage 5m. 20 chains and Down Home signal, Claremont. The present Up line will be used, and the temporary junction at 5 miles 20 chains will be interlocked, and the following signals brought into use :-
           Down Home.    - 20 ft. high on Down side of line 60 yards behind facing points.
          Down Distant.  - 20 ft. high on Down side of line, 350 yards from home signal.
          Up Home.        - 20 ft. high on Up side of line, 14 yards clear of facing points.
          Up Starter.       - 20 ft. high on Up side of the line 265 yards ahead of Up Home signal.
          Up Distant.      - Is arm fixed on back of Down distant to Claremont, 515 yards outside Home signal.
           The levers working temporary junction are fixed on Up side of line at facing points.
         Down trains will be turned on to Down line at Claremont through No. 10 crossover, present signals to apply. The Up advance will be taken out of use. Facing ends of Nos. 8 and 10 points are fitted with facing point locks.
            Speed through crossover not to exceed eight miles per hour.
          The single line between Claremont and 5 miles 20 chains will be worked under ordinary electric staff regulations, and between 5 miles 20 chains and Cottesloe ordinary block working.
            The first train to travel over the single line will be the 10 a.m. ex Fremantle on Sunday, 27th instant.

The removal of these signals and the temporary arrangement appears to have missed being recorded in the subsequent Weekly Notices, perhaps being removed by a 'Special Train Notice Telegram'. Many items appeared in following Weekly Notices advising of the progress of the track works and speed limits applied to trains. In Weekly Notice 49 / 1903 for week ending 4th of December 1903, an announced that the No. 6 Crossover was to be removed. This was also carried out at Cottelsoe, Subiaco, Maylands, Guildford and Woodbridge.

The new year of 1904 brought with it more changes. On the 22nd February, the Claremont Up Advance Starting signal was replaced with a 35 foot tall version of the same signal, but was moved 70 yards further away from Claremont. The new signal was fitted with a Distant signal below the Advance Starting Signal arm and the Distant Signal would become the Up Distant for the soon to be opened Congdon Street station between Claremont and Cottesloe. Congdon Street station was opened, with signals on Tuesday, 1st of March 1904. On Monday the 20th of June the same year the Down Advance Starting signal was relocated to a position 15 yards nearer to the station and on the 'Up' side of the line, probably for sighting purposes.

The movement of signals at Claremont seemed to have a hiatus of sorts in 1905, at least until the 21st of October when the Down Starting signal was moved 25 yards further out. This was done between trains, to lessen the impact on rail traffic. One can only wonder at how many men might had to carry out this work to disconnect the signal after one train had passed it, remove it from the ground, move the post, re-erect it it at the new location and re-connect it before the next train was due. One has to remember that this was long before the heavy lifting appliances of today's industry, and yet it was done.

Claremont in 1905 became the new 'home' of the Royal Agricultural Society's Show Grounds. The new grounds were seen as a more central location for the annual show than the previous site at Guildford. Yet again, this was no doubt that it was indeed the half-way point between Perth and Fremantle. Whilst the press at the time spoke warmly about the fact that passengers were catered for well in using the station, the railway officials could see that if the show's popularity grew, the station as it was, would need some expansion. In a way, a part of Guildford (actually East Guildford), maintained its connection with the Show traffic at its new site. This connection was forged when the crossover road pointwork on the Down end of the Woodbridge station (East Guildford's previous name) was removed and installed in a very similar configuration on the Claremont Down main during the week ending 27th October 1905. The following week, another new crossover road was laid in at the Perth end between the Up and Down roads.

In what was destined to become the last signal move that this signal cabin witnessed, the Down Starter was moved to a position 12 yards closer to the platform on Monday, 8th October 1906. One might think that not much else was happening towards the end of this signal cabin's life at Claremont, but nothing could be further from the truth as the entire station was in the throes of change, and in the interests of not 're-inventing the wheel' the story of what was happening at this time is best left to the notes of an actual witness. The following article from page 18, of the W. A. Railway Institute Magazine of 15/10/1906, describes the scene so well:
Notes by Wayfaver.”
"Leaving Fremantle, the next scene of activity is at Claremont.
Here a small army of men is at work under Engineer Rockett (Per. Way) and Duncan (Interlocking). The work that has been accomplished in the short space of two or three weeks is little short of marvellous. The alterations have been found necessary to enable the heavy passenger traffic in connection with the Royal Agricultural Show to be satisfactorily dealt with. Although last years show traffic beat all previous records, the coming show is expected to totally eclipse it.

The new signal-cabin now nearly completed is situated on the down platform, and is sufficiently high to enable the signalman to have a clear view of all operations in the yard, being 21 ft. from rail to floor level. The new interlocking frame contains 40 levers, 36 of which will be in use.
An additional island platform 490 ft x 32 ft has been built at the rear of present down platform with double road intervening.
This will give five platforms at which trains can be accommodated, and should prevent all crushing and crowding. A new overhead bridge 12ft wide at Perth end of the station will connect with both island platforms and the street. The yard has been rearranged to enable trains to run direct to and from Perth and these platforms, instead of the old arrangement of having to back in from Fremantle end.
These alterations necessitated the removal of the goods-shed, which was accomplished by means of jacks, which lifted it bodily on to skids and rollers. It was then levered over to its present position. Two new races have also been put in at the stock-yards to facilitate loading and unloading of exhibits.
Claremont will thus be one of the most up-to-date suburban stations in the State. Stationmaster Seldon is looking forward to a busy time during the next few weeks, but from our knowledge of his ability it will be simply child's play to him."
In due course, the new Signal Cabin - the fourth at Claremont - opened on 14/10/1906 and was brought into use; however the interlocking is not fully connected on the day. The connections were estimated to be completed by the 22nd October 1906. For the 3rd signal cabin at Claremont though, its life was over and it was removed, and even to this day it seems, managed to have totally evaded being photographed during its four years, nine months and twenty eight days of life. It remains, quite a mystery!

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 Chris. J. E. French of SignallingWA

Photographs as credited in the captions;
Sketch of Drawings of State Records Office of W. A. from the SIGnallingWA Archive and photos of the McKenzie and Holland Gates by Justin Smith courtesy of the RHWA Archives.

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

CLAREMONT (3) 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.




Seldon, O. 02/09/1905 Station Master, Class 6 / 2
Nicholls, John 23/01/1904 Signalman
Smith, Robert 16/12/1905 Signalman, Class 3
     Is a name missing?
Please submit any corrections / additions with suitable evidence using the e-mail form above.
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