Chester No 2

The largest signal box at Chester, Chester No 2, controlled the east end of the station and the junction of the lines to Manchester and Crewe. Apart from Chester No 1, which had closed earlier, all the Chester signal boxes (Nos, 2, 3, 3A, 4, 5 and 6) closed during the Chester resignalling. Apart from the first two, the shots on this page were taken on a couple of weekends in 1979 when steam specials worked into Chester. Ironically, steam specials can still be seen at Chester, but virtually everything else - trains, track, signalling, maintenance standards have changed completely.

40068 at Chester 16/07/77 (s1249a.jpg)

The start of the new order at Chester. On the 16th July 1977, 40068 waits to leave on a Manchester bound service. The route is signalled by the last remaining ex-LNWR lower quadrant signals at Chester, controlled by Chester No 2 signal box., The signal arms, bracket and post are almost entirely made of wood. The adjacent signals are of more recent construction, but all are due to be replaced by the new colour light signals recently installed in fromt of them.

25 at Chester 05/05/78 (s1671.jpg)

By the following year, all trace of these semaphores has gone. On the 5th of May an unidentifed Class 25 is seen leaving on a parcels train to Crewe, passing Chester No 2 signal box. In the foreground, a shiny new colour light signal controls departures from the bay platform. As the plate shows, this new signal (one of 4 controlling the east facing platforms here) was controlled from the original signalbox, but this was the start of the complete resignalling of Chester from a single power signalbox.

35028 at Chester 15/09/79 (s2039.jpg)

SR locomotive 35028 Clan Line arrives at Chester, from the Manchester line on 15th September 1979 with the Strongbow Express special. Starting at Euston, it was originally planned to run to Sheffield via Derby, then to be steam hauled Sheffield-Guide Bridge and Chester-Hereford - both legs worked by Clan Line. However, a fuel crisis meant that diesel mileage had to be restricted, so it then ran Euston-Manchester (a/c electric), Manchester-Guide Bridge (diesel), Guide Bridge-Sheffield (dc electric via Woodhead) and then Clan line worked Sheffield Nunnery Jcn-Chinley-Altrincham-Chester-Shrewsbury, becoming (I believe) the first steam-hauled passenger working east of Chester since the 60s.

35028 at Chester 15/09/79 (s2040.jpg)

Looking the other way as Clan Line works its train into the station, past the massive Chester No 2 signal box. Chester No 1 had already closed by this time, so No 2 alone controlled the east end of the station and the lines to Crewe and Manchester, in comparison with the 4 boxes controlling the west end of the station.

4930 and 5000 at Chester 22/09/79 (s2045.jpg)

A week later, and steam is back at Chester in the form of GWR 4930 Hagley Hall and LMS Black Five 5000. The engines had worked in on the "approved" steam route from Hereford, with a Severn Valley Railway special from Wolverhampton. Chester No 2 box is obscured by steam, but just look at all that lovely trackwork! In the station, as well as the stock of the steam special in the platform, there are 2 other rakes of coaches (one Class 40 hauled) on the up goods lines. Crewe Works had an open day on this day, so these may well be excursions to Crewe which have stabled here. Also in the station are a couple of DMUs and a class 25. (As an aside, at Chester, Crewe, Crewe Works and Wrexham I saw 199 locomotives on this day, only 4 of which were no longer in service).