Plus parts of the South Hams and West Devon

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: May 13, 2019
Webpage updated: May 15, 2019




When the South Devon Railway Company opened their line between Totnes Station and Plymouth Station, it was single track throughout until Hemerdon Junction, just to the east of Plympton.  There was a privately built and owned platform known as Cornwood Road Station, which was equipped with a single siding that was accessed by a trailing connection in  the Downward direction.  There is no evidence from the Ordnance Survey map of the time, 1854-1863, that there was ever a signal box to control the points to the siding and there were certainly no signals provided.

It was not until the Great Western Railway Company was preparing to convert the broad gauge line to standard gauge in 1891 that the first Cornwood Signal Box came in to being.  The Company installed a temporary works siding on the southern side of the single track main line, access to which was  controlled by the first Cornwood Signal Box, which was inspected by the Board of Trade on March 31st 1891.

At the same time as the gauge conversion, the main line was doubled to a point just to the west of Cornwood Station, which now had both Down and Up platforms, much longer than the old one was.  This required a new Cornwood Signal Box, which was placed at the eastern end of the Up platform, 237 miles 44 chains milepost mileage from London Paddington Station via Bristol Temple Meads Station.  This Box was inspected by the Board of Trade on April 10th 1893 and brought in to use on April 14th 1893.  The double-track main line between Cornwood Station and Hemerdon Siding Signal Box was brought in to use on May 14th 1893 and was followed on November 19th 1893 by the stretch from Cornwood Station eastwards to Blatchford Viaduct.

This new signal box measured 22 feet 5 inches by 12 feet and contained a 17-lever frame.  It could be switched out of circuit and controlled the entrance to the Up Refuge Loop and a Ground Frame was installed at the exit end.

A crossover was installed between Cornwood Station and Slade Viaduct by 1923.

In 1955 Cornwood Signal Box was only opened for traffic purposes, as required. 

Although Cornwood Station was closed to both goods and passenger traffic on March 2nd 1959 and the Up Refuge Loop was removed on July 8th 1962, Cornwood Signal Box remained officially in use until February 26th 1963, when the link to the Up Refuge Loop, the crossover and the Ground Frame at the eastern end of the Loop were all removed.


  With grateful acknowledgement to the late Mr Laurence 'Larry' William Crosier (1929-2010) of the Great Western Railway Company (1943-1947);
British Railways (1948-c1994); the Plymouth Railway Circle, the Lee Moor Tramway Preservation Society, and the Signalling Record Society.