OLD PLYMOUTH . UK
Plus parts of the South Hams and West Devon
www.oldplymouth.uk
 

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: April 14, 2018
Webpage updated: May 03, 2019

        

RAILWAYS IN OLD PLYMOUTH  |  TURNCHAPEL BRANCH
BRANCH LINE, FRIARY STATION TO TURNCHAPEL STATION

TURNCHAPEL SIGNAL BOX

The first Turnchapel Signal Box, at 1 mile 77 yards from Plymstock Signal Box, and on the Down side of the line just before Turnchapel Station platform, was opened when the Turnchapel Branch was opened for traffic on January 1st 1897.  It had twelve levers.

Turnchapel Station and Turnchapel Signal Box were completely destroyed by fire during the bombing of the adjacent Admiralty oil storage depot on November 27th 1940.  The ensuing blaze was potentially disastrous and three firemen were killed trying to keep the oil tanks as cool as possible to avoid a catastrophic explosion.  The fire was not put out until December 1st 1940, leaving twisted metal in place of rails and signals.  However, the railways were not daunted by such experiences and by December 16th services were back to normal, supported by new temporary buildings which in fact remained until the line's closure.

The Turnchapel Branch was closed to passenger trains on or as from July 2nd 1951 but remained open for freight traffic to Bayly' Timber Yard the Admiralty's Turnchapel Wharf.  Mr Jack Lambert was the signalman at Turnchapel at that time.  He had been signalman for the last 18 years and had worked on the Branch since 1913, except for three years during the Great War, when he served with the Railway Operating Division in France.  He recalled that during the Second World War the platform at Turnchapel Station would be choked from end to end with servicemen and how before the War around 1,500 passengers would have used the line on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.  There was also a great deal of freight traffic to and from Turnchapel Dockyard and he anticipated that this would continue.

As from November 4th 1957 until further notice the hours of opening of Turnchapel Signal Box were: Monday to Friday - 9.15am until 12 Noon and 2.30pm until 5pm; Saturday 9.15am until 12 Noon.  The Box was 1 mile 77 yards from Plymstock Signal Box.  The Turnchapel Branch was only open fro freight traffic at that time.

  With grateful acknowledgement to the late Mr Laurence 'Larry' W 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.