Plus parts of the South Hams and West Devon

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: April 21, 2018
Webpage updated: May 13, 2018




The opening of the Laira Engine Shed in circa 1903 brought a huge increase in the amount  of rail traffic between there and stations in Plymouth.  In order to ease the congestion Mannamead Signal Box was installed at 245 miles 19 chains from London Paddington Station via Bristol Temple Meads as a break-section box between Lipson Junction Signal Box and North Road East Signal Box.  In both directions it operated Distance, Home and Starter signals.  Such a small signal box (it measured only 17 feet by 10 feet) was under construction in the Great Western Railway Company's works at Reading for South Stoke, on the line between Cholsey and Moulsford Station and Goring and Streatley Station, but as the problem at Plymouth was more important the box was diverted to Mannamead, instead.  Exactly when it was brought into operation is not known beyond "circa 1905".

Although it was a busy Box it was easy to operate because it only had six levers: Down Distant, Home and Starter and the same in the Up direction.  A small lever frame operated Down and Up detonators in case of an emergency.

Signalling rules required that the signalman had to ask "Is Line Clear?" for both Down and Up trains as soon as he received the "Is Line Clear"? bells from both Lipson Junction Signal Box and North Road East Signal Box and that he must give North Road East Signal Box the "Train Approaching" code as soon as he receives the "Train Entering Section" code from Lipson Junction Signal Box.

Because the signalman at North Road East Signal Box would only ever accept Down trains under either the "Line Clear to Clearing Point only" or the "Warning" rules, the Mannamead Down Distant was normally always in the Danger position.  The most likely exception to that was for the Down Cornish Riviera Limited on summer Saturdays, which did not stop at North Road Plymouth Station.

Mutley Tunnel began at 245 miles 32 chains.

Mannamead Signal Box was replaced by two colour-light Intermediate Block Signals and the Box was closed on or as from March 25th 1956.  The Lipson Junction Intermediate Block Signals were 1,122 yards from North Road East Signal Box.


  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.