Melbourne Road - Perth Box A (2) - SignallingWA

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Melbourne Road - Perth Box A (2)

Signal Cabins in WA

MELBOURNE ROAD - PERTH BOX 'A' (2)

WAGR - Eastern Railway (E. R.)

Mileage:  ?

Lat:  31.948268 S

Long:  115.853928 E

Next Down Signal Box:

Next Up Signal Box:

PERTH BOX 'B'

WEST PERTH

Quick Facts

Opened

Closed

Prior to 1897

1958

Mechanical

Electrical

No. of Levers ?

Sykes L & B and Winters

Fate: Unknown

Melbourne Road otherwise known as Perth Box 'A' - was a very busy road crossing in the early days of the Eastern Railway. The box had a fine set of McKenzie & Holland level crossing gates to protect the many tracks through the railway yards. This view, taken by an unknown photographer shows the Melbourne Road crossing in use by a shunting train. The shunt signal on the signal post at left has been rotated, therefore authorising the move. Meanwhile, road traffic including those with only one horse power had to wait - a common occurrance back then! The two storey brick building down the road was the "Empire Motor Works". The author has a hazy memory that this building was later used as the "Perth Goods Office" for a time, but is ready to stand corrected. Note the abundance of picket fencing - all now gone and replaced with the souless, utilitarian, but desirably economic barbed wire-topped wire variety.


The Melbourne Road (Box 'A' Perth) was in use prior to 1897. In 1902 and 1913, new diagrams of signalling were issued to reflect the rearrangement of interlocking. During May 1948, The Roe Street Sidings were connected to the Perth yard Carriage Shed road, and as a result, two extra signals were provided. At this time the Down Distant signal became a "Fixed Distant".

Further alterations to signalling in 1953 required the issue of yet another new Diagram of Signalling, No.42381, which was to be it's last before the cabin was superceded. A complete diagram of Signalling for Perth Box 'A'
has not yet come to light, but some fragments are shown on Sykes Lock and Block circuit drawings which are at hand.

Between Perth Box 'A'
and West Perth, three sturdy bracket signals were provided for the guidance of Drivers. The brackets were positioned on the Northern side of the line for sighting purposes, due to a shed obstructing the view, and the line between the two boxes being set on a curve.









Signal No.21 - the Up Starter, was set atop the middle of the three 'dolls' of one of these brackets, and the significance of this will be related later. At this period of time, Distant signals were still of the 'Red' variety with a 'fish-tailed' end, but verticle white stripe with Red and Green spectacle glasses. This colour scheme was changed in the late 1950's so that Distant Signals became a distinctive Yellow arm with a black chevron and had yellow (Caution) and Green (Proceed) spectacle glasses. The colour of levers working Distant signals did not change however, and they remained Red, contrary to the British practice on which most of the W. A. G. R. signalling practice at the time, was based.


Bert Palmer, once a Block Boy at Perth Box 'B' recalls that one of the Signalmen that worked at Perth Box 'A' was known as Charlie Pickles. On the West side, Melbourne Road (Box 'A') usually worked with West Perth or Cecil Street (a Block Box), although it could also work with Subiaco. To the East, Perth Box 'A' worked (in the very early days) with William Street Gate Box but for most of it's life with Perth Box 'B'.


The very characteristic original Perth Box 'A' was replaced in 1958 by another 'A' Cabin which combined the operations of the West Perth and Melbourne Road cabins and was brought into use during the construction of the Mitchell Freeway. This later 'A' Cabin was itself closed in 1970 and demolished along with the old Perth goods yard when the land was used to build the Perth Entertainment Centre - and associated car park.


The view of the scene literally 'just around the corner' was taken from a larger photo supplied by former Mount Lawley Signalman / Porter - Arthur Brean. It clearly shows the complexity of the West Perth end of the Perth marshalling yards and the amount of goods traffic handled there. On the left of the photo, can be seen some of the bracket signals - the furthest carrying No. 21, the Starting signal to West Perth. Very recently, a relic from Box 'A' Perth has been discovered. It is the Sykes Lock and Block instrument which worked in conjunction with this very signal to control train movements on the UP main line between Perth Box 'B' and West Perth.

W. G. Atkins, once a Junior Worker at West Perth remembers that it was his job to oil the points and clean and trim the signal lamps on these signals. He remembers that these particular signals were quite high, and he also recalls the frequent embarrasment inflicted upon him by the 'ladies' in the houses of the then infamous Roe Street as he carried out his duties with the lamps high above the ground.


Viewing the same area today from a now respectable Roe Street, shows no evidence at all of the former road crossing. A long footbridge has been provided to permit access to Roe Street and the Northbridge area from the Entertainment Centre. The area is now all car park and cement paving for the Perth Entertainment Centre and a busway servicing the Wellington Street Bus Station. With a start being made on linking the Northen Suburbs Railway with the soon to be started South West Metropolitan Railway there is a strong possibility that the area shown above will be completely altered yet again, as the propsal is to 'sink' the railway line through this part of Perth - a 'hot' topic since the line was first planned in the late 1870s!


Information researched and interpreted by Chris. J. E. French of SignallingWA

Thanks to W. G. Atkins and Arthur Brean for additional information.


Photographs © by Arthur Brean
and W. A. G. R.

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MELBOURNE ROAD - PERTH BOX 'A' (2) Employees

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

Name

Appointed

Position

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