Photo signals a trip down memory lane

Andrew's recently acquired photo of Motherwell South signal box
Andrew's recently acquired photo of Motherwell South signal box

A photograph of the long-demolished Motherwell South signal box brought back memories for Bellshill man Andrew Porteous.

Andrew recently bought the rights to the negatives of the picture in this article where his late father Hugh worked 70 years ago.

He said: “My father Hugh Porteous and his long time friend Tom McCann both started their railway careers at the Motherwell South box in 1943 as trainee train register boys.

“Their job was to keep a record of all train movements in a book in case of accidents and mishaps as stated by the transport regulations requirement.

“My father left the railway in 1947, but Tom stayed there for 49 years, returning to the South box as a signalman later in his career as the box had a special class classification.

“He also worked as a relief signalman outdoor representative until his retirement from the railway.”

The Motherwell South signal box was located at Crosshill Street and was a Caledonian Railway S4 type which dated back to the 1970s.

Working to the Motherwell North, Dalzell Works and Park Street boxes it contained 56 levers, operated by a signalman with his back to the trains.

Andrew said: “There were around 145 boxes of this type at one time on the network, including Quintinshill near Gretna, site of likely the worst railway disaster in UK history when 227 were killed and 246 injured on May 22, 1915.

“There is no record of when the Motherwell South box opened but it closed on December 17, 1972, as part of stage one of the Motherwell Signalling Centre resignalling scheme which closed nine signal boxes.

“Now 42 years later Motherwell Signalling Centre is due to close between 2016 and 2018 with control being passed to the new West Scotland Regional Operations Centre at Springburn.”