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Celebrating the humble signal box

13 August 2014

Picture of front cover of signal boxes

As advances in technology signal the end for the humble box, Historic Scotland, in partnership with Network Rail, undertook a review of the nation’s surviving structures. The results were used to compile the new booklet, featuring images of some of the best surviving and most recognizable signal boxes, as well as an overview of how these buildings have been used over the centuries.

Elizabeth McCrone, Historic Scotland’s Head of Listing said: “These purpose-built buildings are found in our towns and cities as well as some of the most picturesque parts of the countryside. To many they are much-loved and instantly recognisable remnants of the bygone era of steam travel, as unmistakable in the landscape as lighthouses.”

“Some of these boxes have been in operation since the 1870s but, sadly, many of them will become obsolete in the near future. By reviewing them for listing we hoped we could help them receive some of the recognition they richly deserve. This wonderful little booklet will certainly appeal to railway and history enthusiasts but it’s so accessible that it should also be appreciated by a much wider audience.”

The review was undertaken as the modernisation of signalling systems means most boxes in Britain will be phased out over the next 15-30 years, with the current 74 Scottish boxes being consolidated into two modern signalling centres.

The booklet features stunning images and information on signal boxes across the country, including Aberdour, Arbroath, Biggar, Boat of Garten, Bridge of Allan, Clachnaharry, Edinburgh Waverley West, Glenfinnan, Nairn, Stirling, and Upper Tyndrum.

The booklet is available free online (page turning format), or the PDF can be downloaded from our website

Notes for editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • Scotland welcomes the world in the Year of Homecoming 2014 providing a year-long programme of events alongside the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games. The Year of Homecoming Scotland will run until 31 December 2014 throughout the length and breadth of the country. Visitors from around the world are invited to join in a celebration of the nation’s food and drink, active pursuits, cultural heritage, nature and ancestral heritage. Homecoming Scotland 2014 is a Scottish Government initiative being led by EventScotland and VisitScotland, supported by numerous partners. To find out more visit For more on Historic Scotland’s Homecoming activities visit or tweet us using #hshomecoming.

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For further information

Alan Bannon, Media & PR Officer
Historic Scotland Media Office
0131 668 8588 or 07854 366 805