Welsh Highland Railway Heritage Group

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Cambrian Crossing Box / Pen y Mount Signal Box

In its modern existence the crossing is known as Cae Pawb

Cambrian Crossing Box replica proposal    

In 2007 a replica of the signal box that was used to control the crossing of the standard gauge by the narrow gauge in Porthmadog was high on the list of the Heritage Group’s ambitions.  
Permission was sought and given for the box to be located in its original position on the north side of the Cambrian and to the west of the narrow gauge. 

Funding the project

The Heritage Group, as part of its contribution to the Welsh Highland Railway construction project, agreed to raise monies and to co-ordinate the construction of a replica of the Cambrian Crossing Signal Box.    This was an ideal opportunity to recreate a very visible aspect of the original WHR scene and to demonstrate the Group’s commitment to both WHR heritage and the project as a whole. The project was approved and agreed by FR Heritage Ltd., Welsh Highland Railway Construction Ltd, and the FR Company.  

Welsh Highland Railway Construction Ltd put 5,000 into the scheme, while other monies have come from the Heritage Group, from an appeal organised by the Group and from the WHR Society as a whole and the West Midlands branch of the WHRS. 

As part of the ‘scene’, replicas of the original wooden crossing gates were paid for by the West Midland group of the Society; these gates had been insisted on by Network Rail.   It was felt that the whole scene would provide passengers with a nice heritage introduction to the old Welsh Highland Railway.

Scale drawings were produced and an order to Buildings Bespoke was placed in late 2007 for its manufacture.   

Relocation and erection
  May 2014
Unfortunately it did not prove possible to erect  the box in its planned location. Two alternative options presented themselves.   One was to modify the box and to relocate it at Tryfan Junction where there had been a NWNG box originally, and the other was to locate it at Pen y Mount to house the equipment controlling the junction between the Heritage Railway and the WHR ‘main’ line.   The latter option was preferred, as  it could act as an authentic box controlling an authentic junction at a site not far from the intended location. The major donors were consulted and supported the plan, albeit with a degree of disappointment.

After spending some time in storage at Dinas,  the box was finally erected at Pen y Mount in May 2013 and subsequently roofed in slate. In May 2014 it was painted by the West Midlands Group of the Society in  light stone, dark stone and maroon brown (as the GWR called the colours).
The builders (Buildings Bespoke of Hereford) are due to return in June to fit bargeboards ,soffits, glazing etc. The West Midlands Group will then return to finish the exterior painting and complete the interior.

A 7-lever frame has been supplied by the Ffestiniog Railway Company for use in the signal box and refurbished in the WHHR workshops. The mechanical  interlocking is being modified for its new role. Five of the levers will be used initially. Three will operate the points and the approach signals from the two directions respectively. Two further levers will each lock the frame until released by separate keys for the two lines.  


Completion works - Autumn 2015

Work to fit out and finish the box is under way in Autumn 2015  under the leadership of Michael Hadley with the assistance of the West Midlands Group of the WHRS.Final completion is expected in Spring 2016.

Cae Pawb - southern Gate in 1930s - copyright WHHG archives Southern Gate
The original gate from the 1930's taken from the northern edge of the GWR track, looking back to Portmadoc New.
Southern Gate 2009 after installation - David Allan Southern Gate

The new southern gate shortly after installation, taken from the northern gate looking back to the water tower at Portmadoc New
Cae Pawb Northern Gate 2009 - Chris Dearden Northern Gate

The new northern gate shortly after erection during early construction work.
Taken from the proposed site of the new crossing box.
Photo by Chris Dearden (WHHR)
Cae Pawb Northern Gate 2009 - Chris Dearden Northern Gate

The new northern gate shortly after erection during the early construction work. The proposed site of the crossing box is to the immediate left of the gate.
Photo by Chris Dearden (WHHR), taken from the access road to Gelerts Farm
Cae Pawb Crossing bos 1920's The original box looking towards Beddgelert
Cae Pawb Crossing box 1920's The original box from what is now the access road  to Gelert's Farm
REconstructed Crossing Box Cae Pawb The reconstructed box awaiting installation
Cambrian box in store at Dinas Cambrian box in store at Dinas

Cambrian Crossing box in store at Dinas carriage shed

Cambrian box erectedThe Cambrian box erected at Pen y Mount Junction - May 2013

Lever Frame for Pen y Mount - Pic John KerrPen y Mount Lever Frame - John Kerr
The lever frame before installation

Pen y Mount Cabin after painting - Michael HadleyPen y Mount Cabin after painting - Michael Hadley
Pen y Mount Cabin after painting - Michael HadleyPen y Mount Cabin after painting - Michael Hadley
The box after painting
May 2014
August 2016.  Sadly the box has failed to withstand the rigours of the Welsh climate and extensive repairs have been needed. Most of the shiplap cladding is to be replaced and a new exterior door is needed.   Much of the work on site is being carried out  by two volunteers, Lyndon Cooper and Steve Broomfield.The timber is being prepared by the West Midlands Group.