Plus parts of the South Hams and West Devon

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: May 10, 2018
Webpage updated: June 23, 2018




Marsh Mills Station, only 18 chains from Tavistock Junction, was opened by the South Devon and Tavistock Railway Company in 1859 and it is believed it was equipped with a small Messrs Saxby and Farmer 12-levers signal box at that time giving access to sidings for the Marsh Corn Mills on the Up side of the line.

A new Marsh Mills Signal Box had to be provided by the Great Western Railway Company when the trains of the London and South Western Railway Company started using their running rights over the line between Lydford Station and North Road Plymouth Station.  Standard-gauge rails were added to the broad-gauge ones.  The new Signal Box was brought in to use on March 20th 1876.  The Saxby and Farmer frame was replaced with a GWR one in 1910 and that was increased from 16 levers to 19 levers in 1921.

At the start of the Second World War the War Department, which was responsible for the supply of armaments, decided to construct a new Armament Depot at Coypool Marsh, just north of Marsh Mills Station, to replace the Army Ordnance Depot at Bull Point, Saint Budeaux.  Coypool Marsh Sidings were already under construction by the Great Western Railway Company in April 1940 although the new depot and signalling were not brought in to use until February 1941.  The extended Signal Box now measured 19 feet 6 inches by 8 feet 3 inches and contained a 32 lever GWR frame, of which 6 were not used.

The Electric Train Staff was used between Marsh Mills and Bickleigh until May 2nd 1955, when it was replaced by the Electric Train Token to give greater flexibility.

Signalling Regulations provided that the "Is Line Clear?" code for Up trains to Plymouth should be sent only when the train was ready to leave Marsh Mills Station.  If the train was a rail motor, whether loaded or empty, the code was 3 - 1- 3 instead of the usual 3 - 1.  On Bank Holidays and other days authorised by special notice, rail auto cars were permitted to work from Marsh Mills Station to Plym Bridge Platform and back without going through the section to Bickleigh Station.  This was presumably introduced only after the section had been converted to the Electric Train Token system in 1955.

Marsh Mills Signal Box was open in 1956 between 5.15am and 10.10pm on weekdays and between 10.40am and 8.05pm on Sundays.  The Box did not have a Block Switch.

The Launceston Branch was closed to passenger traffic in 1962 but Marsh Mills Station remained open for china clay traffic.  The Signal Box was then open only between 5.15am and 7.55pm on Mondays to Fridays and until 10.10pm on Saturdays only.

Marsh Mills Signal Box was closed on or as from April 4th 1965.


  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.