Railways in Worcestershire

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Worcester Shrub Hill Signal Box


Hi Andrew, a while back you asked me for some experiences while I was working at Worcester, well I have one such tale to recount to you.

Taking up my duty at Shrub Hill Junction one Saturday night during April/May of the year 1970/1, booking on at 10pm there wasn't much to do after about 11.15 and is as my want I used to settle down with a good book or do some D.I.Y. project of my own, anyway this particular night I was not going to forget for a long time.

During the early hours there was an engine due off shed at about 2am to go to Moor Street Station to bring back the Sunday papers for the City and surrounding districts, and the time honoured drill was to set the road of shed and to lower the exit signal at or about 1am or when the driver came up to the box to mash his tea. The driver would then go about his duties checking over his steed prior to coming off shed and when ready he would come off shed, driving from the far end so that he didn't have to change ends. So now the stage is set, the road is set to come off shed at the Evesham end, the signal is in the off position, then I get a call attention bell from the Station box for a diversion (something had gone wrong on the Midland main line) so I reversed everything to allow passage for this diversion, called Tunnel Junction (1 beat on the bell and offered the said train which was accepted and I duly pulled off my signals, as I received train entering section from Station box so the engine on shed starts to come off shed, or tries to, and there is no way in which I can warn the driver in time due to the odd angle and curvature of the track. I'm helpless and just stood there transfixed waiting for the crunch as he hit the catch points just outside the box which he inevitably did just as the diversion passed the box (there was no danger to the passing train as there was plenty of clearance. In due course the driver came up to the box full of apologies saying "i thought the peg was off Bobby, well it was the last time I looked and it looks like the Sunday's papers are goin' to be late don't it, may as well have a mash and wait for the shed foreman to blow his top".

So here we are with the engine leaning nonchalantly against the box, the shed foreman and other staff wondering how the hell they we're going to get this engine back on the track when the driver wryly remarked that he seemed to remember a few years ago the self same thing happened with a steam engine and the driver he recalls was the now shed foreman, a deathly hush then ensued whereupon the foreman said to the driver "yes well you'd better go and write out your report ".

When my mate came to relieve me at 6am the utterances that came forth were unmentionable for this text, suffice to say that I was not the first to do that nor would I probably be the last.

Dave Newman

Signalman, Worcester Shrub Hill Junction, 1968-1972

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