Plus parts of the South Hams and West Devon

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: April 21, 2018
Webpage updated: May 12, 2019




Lipson Junction Signal Box was recorded in 1955 as being 244 miles 29 chains milepost mileage from London Paddington Station via Bristol Temple Meads.  The ruling gradient on the approach was 1 in 77 rising, which became 1 in 72 rising towards North Road Plymouth Station.

The Junction controlled the double track line, known as the Plymouth Number 1 Curve, that gave the London and South Western Railway Company its access to Friary Station, as well as providing the first part of the Great Western Railway Company's Yealmpton Branch.  The Box was opened in April 1891, when it contained just 17 levers, and the Curve was opened to passenger traffic on July 1st 1891.

When the Down and Up Goods Loops were installed between Laira Junction Signal Box and Lipson Junction the number of levers was increased to 35.  The enlarged Box then measured 29 feet in length by 11 feet 6 inches wide and was brought in to use on May 27th 1903.

Following the opening of the Laira Engine Shed and Laira Yard the line between Lipson Junction and North Road East Signal Box became very congested with the movement of light engines as well as passenger and freight trains.  To make movements a little easier Mannamead Signal Box was introduced in 1905 to break the section up into two.  But this was still not sufficient.  The late Larry Crosier (1929-2010) revealed in his book "Mechanical Signalling in Plymouth" that in 1913 a plan was announced to quadruple the tracks between Laira Junction and Mutley Tunnel at a cost to the New Works Engineer of 27,500 and an additional 4,400 to the Signal Engineer.  Although work was started at the Lipson end it was interrupted by the Great War and never resumed.  As a result the line between Lipson Junction Signal Box and North Road East Signal Box became a bottleneck well into the days of British Railways.

In 1916 a crossover was installed on the Curve and a siding added to the Up side for the benefit of the ammunitions factory at Laira Bridge.  This was subsequently removed but in 1931 a new connection was installed from the Down line on the Curve to the new straight Laira Engine Shed.  This enabled locomotives to exit the Shed, reverse and continue in to North Road Station without needing to access the main line at Laira Junction.  It also enable the turning of locomotives without taking up time on a turntable.

Signalling rules provided that in both directions the "Is Line Clear?" must be sent to the Box in advance immediately it was received from the Box in the rear.  Up trains were not to be accepted from Mount Gould Junction Signal Box unless and until Lipson Junction could clear its Up Loop Home Signal to allow the train out on to the Down main line in to Plymouth.

In 1957 Lipson Junction Signal Box, which was 1,364 yards from the Lipson Junction Intermediate Block Signals (formerly Mannamead Signal Box), was open continuously.  The Box was not provided with a closing switch.

Lipson Junction Signal Box was closed on or as from November 26th 1960, when the Plymouth Panel Signal Box was opened.


  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.