While Bobbys guard their box by night

As a young fireman, in the 1960s, a trudge up to the signal box, signing the register, and asking for a collar to be put on, was all part of a days work. Today, of course, the ‘cabin’ is a signalling centre somewhere near Alpha Centauri, or Basingstoke, take your pick, and the Bobby is watching a computer screen.

Rule 55, which was, then, mostly concerned with the ‘detention of trains on running lines’, had to be learned by heart. There were a number of little mental aides to help remember the ‘ten commandments’ one of which ran, ‘ during fog or falling snow, to the box Oh! you must go’ – always reminds me of this time of year with  misty days, and foggy nights, and the ever present possibility of snow.

It is easy to forget, today, just how difficult it was working in fog or heavy, snow eyes straining to see a paraffin lamp, on top of a pole, ears pricked, waiting for the crack of detonators. These were the times when knowing the road was paramount.

This little cameo, with the Bobby standing outside Marley Hill Box, is from the Tanfield Railway’s ‘night shoot’ held earlier this year.

A further selection of my photos can be seen here: http://steamagedaydreams.co.uk/?page_id=3378

If you enjoy my photographs why not have a look at my 2017 Calendar, which, for the first time, is being published by calendar company Calvendo and sold on line or by order at your local bookshop using this ISBN number: Steam Age Daydreams (Wall Calendar 2017 DIN A4 Landscape) / 978-1-325-22545-3

Here are the online links to it.:


and on Amazon at:


If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it:


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