Railway Signal Box

I took these photos some time in 1997. At that time you could pretty much wander onto the tracks north of Victoria Station with no trouble at all. I had seen this signal box from the tram to Bury and was right at the start of taking photos of this type of building with no particular intent. Its modularity, lightness and angularity were what drew me to it – I was into Herzog & de Meuron’s plywood house at the time and the austere honesty that came with their breed of materially expressive minimalism. It was only in 2023, whilst researching something else that I came across a short excerpt from Architectural Review with a bit of provenance that reminded me of the images, not taken for any sort of project, but eventually finding their way into this.

Built between 1959 and 1960, this power signal box was a prototype for a new range anticipated to service the Midland Region’s modernization programme. Replacing an earlier building, this one almost hung above the River Irk, sat on top of an existing Victorian viaduct. The ground floor housed mostly amenity rooms for staff and the first floor was dedicated to electronic signalling equipment. On the second floor was the control room and mess. The signal box and its adjacent power house were welded steel frames with precast concrete floors and sheet steel roofs. The cladding system was polyester fibreglass panels with foam cores. Headley was advised by A.N. Butland, chief civil engineer for the Midland Region.