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With its pioneering use of contactless, and real-time travel information, London’s transport network is rightly heralded as one of the world’s most forward-thinking. But dinosaurs lurk in in its midst. Like this signal cabin at Edgware Road, which is over 92 years old.
Introduced into service 10 October 1926, the positively art deco beast is the kind of setup you’d expect to find in the London Transport Museum. A satisfyingly hunk of vintage gadgetry, it has 38 levers with approximately 3,250 lever movements.
It’s the kind of thing you’d expect to find in the London Transport Museum. But, although it was due to be decommissioned in 2016, this old warhorse is battling on.
It will not be receiving a 100th birthday card from the Queen, though. The signal cabin is now expected to be decommissioned this July — replaced by the all-digital system, at Hammersmith Control Centre, which hopes to see Circle line trains running up to a third more frequently.
What’s to become of the old cabin? It’ll be listed, and likely moved either to London Transport Museum, or the museum’s Acton Depot.
Another possibility is that it will remain in situ, and open to the public, for special tours.
Here’s a video we made about the signal box, in 2016:
Two other retiring signal boxes
Hammersmith’s signal box, which opened in June 1951 (the same time the Festival of Britain was going on) was decommissioned in March 2019. It’s to be converted into an office, while the parts are moved to Acton Depot (not as display objects, but as spare parts: stations like Rickmansworth still use this equipment).
Baker Street’s signal cabin is a relative newcomer — only opening in the 1980s. Part of it (Finchley Road-Euston Square) will be decommissioned summer 2019, and it’ll be fully decommissioned in 2021.
All photos © TfL