East Perth (2) - SignallingWA

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East Perth (2)

Signal Cabins in WA


WAGR - Eastern Railway (E. R.)

Mileage = 1

Location Map

Next Down Stations:

Next Up Cabin:



Quick Facts



Circa 1899

Circa 1919



Approx. ? Levers


Moved to Jarrad Street


For what was to become such an important safeworking location East Perth's first decade and a half of its' existence was to see a complete absence of any safeworking function of any shape or form. Although a platform was provided in 1883 (built by Smith and Co for  the princely sum of 83 pounds!) no point indicator, loop, signal cabin, or staff box was to grace East Perth by it presence  for some 15 years.

This changed  with the boom that accompanied the great 1890s gold rush, and in August 1896, the first East Perth cabin opened. Although accurate records are scarce, it is likely  that  cabin was  probably located  near Sampson Street , some 53 chains from East Perth Station. When opened, East Perth's performed the dual role  as the junction from single to double line working on the Eastern Railway, as well as the junction for the South West Railway . However, its role as , in effect a double junction  was to be short lived, for the duplication from Perth to Midland Junction was opened in the   early part of 1897.

The first cabin at East Perth  was to have a short life. The oldest surviving railway plan of East  Perth shows that the cabin had been removed by 1902 and replaced by a cabin located immediately south  of East Perth station. This cabin was not the same cabin as the 1896 cabin, being much larger than its predecessor.

Precisely when the first cabin was closed and relocated is not clear: the act of its replacement seems to have escaped the attention of  both the compilers  of the then new Weekly Notices or the Authors of the relevant Annual Reports.  However, in the authors opinion, (set out in greater detail in East Perth number one cabin) there is strong prima facie case that the cabin was closed in August 1899, shortly before or contemporaneously with the opening of the nearby Lord Street Cabin.

The second East Perth cabin was a weatherboard structure, located south of the East Perth station.

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It's east end abutted Claisebrook Road. It was elevated, no doubt so as to give the staff working the cabin a good view of the surrounding yard and junction. Such elevation was not only advantageous but necessary: East Perth was, even by that stage, a busy location, with a regular procession of suburban and goods trains on both the Eastern and the South West  Railway shaking the box, as well as regular shunting trips to service the nest of nearby industrial sidings.

When it opened, East Perth No: 2 worked with Lord Street to the West, Falkirk (now Maylands) to the East (both on the Eastern Railway), and Burswood (later renamed Rivervale, now Burswood again!) on the South West Railway. Absolute block working (using Sykes Instruments) applied on the Eastern Railway towards Lord Street, while Train Electric Staff working (large, until November 1913, when it was replaced by miniature) applied on the South West Railway to Burswood. Two-position Block using Winters instruments was in use to Falkirk. Falkirk's mantle as the next cabin along the Eastern Railway was lost in August  1905 when Fenian's Crossing (now known as the Mt. Lawley Subway) was opened with two Temporary Block Cabins. Fenian's Crossing Cabin 'A' was 500 yards west of the crossing and Fenian's Crossing Cabin 'B' was 300 yards East of the crossing in the cutting. Fenian's  Crossing, the site of several accidents and fatalities since the line opened in 1881 was closed to allow for the construction of the railway bridges over The road to Guildford. In April 1907, these two temporary Cabins were closed and replaced by a new signal cabin at Mount Lawley.

On the South West Railway Belmont Park (which served the nearby racecourse) was opened in December 1915 as a "temporary" (read "intermittent")  electric staff station. It was cut in from time to  time to divide the Section to Burswood so as the facilitate more frequent movements  over the single line between East Perth and Burswood during race days or special events or workings.

A loop was provided at East Perth for South West Trains, and this was almost certainly installed prior to the opening of the cabin. East Perth was a staff station from 1896, and  while  South West trains could have crossed there without such a facilty, through the simple expedient of holding the down train  on the Eastern Railway  to allow the Up to cross it ,such an arrangement would have created unacceptable delays.  

The precise number of levers in cabin is not known, although given the  cabin's dimensions the frame would have been limited to about 45 levers. The original signalling layout is uncertain, however, it probaly consisted of Up and Down homes for the Eastern and South West Railways, Up and Down distants and Up and Down starters for both lines, and Up and Down staters for the loop for the South West Railway. The Down distants were  located on the post for the Down home for Lord Street.  

East Perth was one of the few industrial areas in Perth during the early years of the Twentieth Century, and as the state slowly adjusted  to the end of the gold rush boom years, both the number of industries located there, and  the yard,  slowly grew. In 1903 an Auxiliary (i.e. Outer ) Up Distant signal was installed on the Eastern Railway , probably as a concession to the fact that on the Eastern Railway the view of East Perth was partially obscured by a  sweeping right-hand curve  facing Up trains. In 1904 , yard improvements  saw a number of changes and additions to the signaling and interlocking layout, involving the installation of  a new crossover and new disc signals.   

As befitting it's role as a major junction, East Perth had a number of safeworking idiosyncrasies. Around 1912,  a Boucher's Patent Signal Flash Lamp was fitted to the down distant for the Eastern Railway, probably as a trial as there is no record of its use anywhere else. Presumably this trial proved unsatisfactory: in April 1913 it was  replaced by ordinary lamp showing a steady light.

A much longer lasting feature of East Perth was its being  the location of the only place where the tracks of the Perth Electric ( later WA Government ) Tramways crossed a railway  line (in this case the siding into the Tramway workshop on the junction  of Kensington Street and Claisebrook Road) on the level. A special set of catch points protected the Tramway's line, the points being  operated by a lever locked by a special key which was kept under the care of the signalman when not in use. Trains shunting the siding could not be allowed to do so until "line clear' had been obtained from Lord Street, and had to be signalled using the block instruments, with the "Cancelled" signal being sent when the train had shunted clear of the main. As far as the author has been able to ascertain this working was unique to East Perth. The most probable reason for such an unusual arrangement was that the points for the Tramway siding were in the East Perth -Lord Street section, this hypothesis being supported by regular entries  in the Annual reports listing the interlocking at the Tramway siding as being separate from East Perth.

This was not the only unusual working  associated with East Perth : a special call attention signal (1-2) preceded "is line clear" signal to Lord Street for Up  South West trains, while a special "be ready" signal had to be sent to Lord Street (so as to enable the gates across Lord Street to be closed for the shortest possible time)on the approach of an Up stopping train at East Perth. Whether or not this replaced the "Is line clear?" signal is not clear.

Less singular, but still unusual, was the local instruction (recorded in the 1909 General Appendix) providing  that when Mount Lawley, Maylands and Bayswater were switched out Up trains could be accepted  under the regulations applicable to "Section Clear but  Station or Junction Blocked".  Whether  this local instruction was established to remind drivers, steaming at speed through a succession of clear signals, to approach East Perth cautiously so as to avoid the embarrassment of over running a home at danger (and possibly creating  loud and expensive noises) is not now readily apparent.

East Perth number No. 2 was to be rendered obsolete by the need to relocate the  WAGR's main locomotive depot from the badly congested Perth yard to a more spacious location. The decision to move the depot to East Perth was taken in 1912  and work on the new site commenced in  1914 . Progress was slow due to manpower and material shortages occasioned by the First world War and the depot ( forever to be colloquially known as East Perth Loco) did not open until after the Armistice. As a consequence of this work various temporary track and  signaling arrangements were put in place, as well as permanent alterations introduced in early 1919 . In February that year the Up starters were moved to  an impressive bracket, while the  Eastern railway Up outer distant was relocated to the post of the Down home of the Summers Street cabin. Summers Street was a block post of which little information has survived. This February 1919  reference to the Summers Street cabin is puzzling, as the cabin was not officially opened until 11 May 1919. It is possible that the cabin might have been operational for some time prior to this date, in which case Mount Lawley's mantle of being the next Down cabin to work with East Perth number 2 might have been briefly surrendered  to Summers Street.

East Perth no 2 closed on 5 May  1919, following the opening of the third, and last, East Perth cabin. The new yard layout, with entrance to loco located between the Eastern Railway and the South Western Railway, required a larger signal cabin more centrally located than the existing arrangement. Due to it's being one of the most isolated railway systems in the world, the WAGR were great recyclers, and the cost saving opportunity presented by a redundant signal cabin was too good to pass. The cabin was relocated to Cottesloe- or more correctly, Jarrad Street, the main West to East thoroughfare of that suburb, which crossed the Railway a few chains south of Cottesloe station ) where it was to last until 1961. It also was closed to allow for the construction of a new signal cabin in conjunction with the opening of the Cottesloe to Leighton Independent freight line, a somewhat ironic end for a cabin that had spent the early part of its life controlling a junction. Perhaps even the WAGR had limits as to how far it was prepared to recycle.

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

Article researched and interpreted by Justin Smith © 2017

Hosted on SignallingWA by Chris. J. E. French

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

EAST PERTH (2) 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.





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