Portobello East Signal Box
Reproduced with acknowledgement to Archie
Foley, Joppa, Edinburgh
Thank you to Archie
Foley, Joppa, Edinburgh, for sending me this postcard image.
There is no publisher's name and no date on the postcard. It
has 'Joppa (switch)' written in pencil on the back, but see
Answer 2 below
Where and When?
"Perhaps the very knowledgeable
railway enthusiasts who access your site could confirm that this
signal box was indeed at Joppa, and if possible give an
approximate date. Can anybody comment?"
Archie Foley, Joppa, Edinburgh: December 17,
Let's hope that the knowledgeable railway enthusiasts are not
all out doing last-minute Christmas shopping!
If you can help to answer this question, please e-mail me, then
I'll pass your message on to Archie.
- Peter Stubbs:
December 21, 2007
Minehead, Somerset, England
Thank you to Alan
Grieve, now living in Minehead, Somerset, England, for sending the
comments below. Alan used to live in Inveresk, near
Musselburgh, and helped in some of the signal boxed in the area
before moving to England.
It's not Joppa
"Look at the picture of
the N15 locomotive at Joppa (below). Joppa signal box
appears behind the loco. You can see that Joppa was a small
signal box with only four windows in the front.
It only controlled the double- track
main line and the entrance to the east end of Portobello Yard.
The photograph at the top of this page
is of a much larger box."
It may be Portobello East
"Is that is tree foliage visible
through the end window. If so, the signal box could be
Portobello East was on a gantry
alongside the footbridge where the Waverley route met the East
Coast route. It spanned the tracks, unlike most boxes.
Of course, the end windows looked out
at right angles to the railway. The southern end windows faced the
I donít know the layout inside the
box, whether the signalman faced Edinburgh or London when he was
at the frame, or where the entrance was."
Probably not Portobello West
"Portobello West signal box was on the
down side between the station and the entrance to Craigentinny
Carriage Sidings. It was a substantial box and had a 58
lever frame, the signalman
facing the track when operating it. The door was at
the station end but there is no door visible in the photo so I
think that rules out the West box."
"The photo may possibly have been of
Craigentinny Signal Box. It was also quite a long box."
also gave some background to his answer. He wrote:
Helping in Signal Boxes
"I had a friend who was a signalman,
at Newhailes Junction when I first met him, and then at Portobello
West. I spent a lot of time in the early 1960ís
working both boxes with him in the evenings when he was on back
shift, or at Portobello West when he was on the night shift.
Joppa, of course, was the next box to
Newhailes so our bell communication in the Edinburgh direction was
with it. Monktonhall Junction was next on the main line to
the east and there was Musselburgh at the end of the branch
Despite all this I never did manage to
get into Joppa box or Portobello East box."
Move to England
"I was brought up in Inveresk
[Inveresk lies about 2 miles ESE of Joppa].
I now live in Minehead, Somerset.
It's funny how things work out. Although I never worked for
the railway I am now a volunteer signalman on the West Somerset
Alan Grieve, Minehead, Somerset: January 11, 2008
Fisherrow, East Lothian,
Thank you to Ian Young
is without a doubt Portobello East, probably back in the
1930s/40s, as when I started there in 1959 the floor had linoleum
on it which was bumpered to a mirror like shine.
- The frame faced towards Portobello
- It had a 94
lever Stevens frame
- Spaces 188.8.131.52.
- Spare Levers
- Portobello East controlled Up
Fast, Up Slow, Down Fast and Down Slow lines to and from
- On the other side it worked to
Joppa on the East Coast Main line and to Niddrie North on the
- It also controlled the
east entrance/exit to Portobello Yard.
- The heaviest pull was a set of
switch diamonds Nos 21 and 43.
Ian Young, Fisherrow, East Lothian, Scotland: September 23, 2008"
Thank you to Gordon
Davie who wrote:
"My uncle showed me this photo on your
site of Portobello East signal box.
The man in the foreground in shirt
sleeves is my grandfather, William Davie. He died in 1949.
Judging by his appearance, I think that the photo would have
been taken in the late 1930s"
Gordon Davie: April 23, 2014
Thank you to George
Renton who wrote:
"As for the picture of the signal box,
when looking at the background, what you are looking at is the
side of the bulkhead for the Brunstane Road overpass.
This was my local station when I lived
there 'till 1965."
Inside the Box
"I was only ever inside the box once,
for a short visit. That's when I learned you could clean
very grimy windows with vinegar-soaked newspaper."
"The Station Master's Office was next
door, with the permanently attached cast iron drinking cup on a
chain fastened to the spigot on the wall. The coal
fire heated Waiting Room was across the footbridge on the other
Dark, Foggy, Frosty Night
"The foot bridge obscures the
Brunstane Street bridge. I remember one dark, foggy, frosty night,
while on a marathon dog walk/run, hearing a loco, ascending what I
think was the elevated South Leith right of way that is now Sir
Harry Lauder connector.
The track took you up the the coal
mine at Niddrie. Anyway, the engineer was having a bad time
of it. I couldn't see it in the gloom, but the engine was slipping
on the rails. The classic 'shoo! shooo! shooo, shooo, shoo, start
over, break traction, start over.'"
"This high level bridge was just west
of Joppa station. Sometimes there would be baskets of racing
pigeons outside the Station Master's Office."
Ontario, Canada: May 22, 2014