Winter Village Signal Box

Year
2012
Tagged
architecture, Christmas, electronics, minifigure scale, purist, trains, winter village

This is my second MOC based on LEGO’s Winter Village theme, and was intended to make up for my previous effort (Grogall’s Clothes Store) that was generally snubbed.

In thinking about a building to tackle for the theme, one particular thing I’d noticed hadn’t been taken on was a signal box: there have been trains and even train stations done in the Winter Village style, but never a signal box.

The inspiration for the design came from Dudding Hill Station: a signal box that is still in operation, near Gladstone Park in north London. I’d grown up being fascinated with this building, curious about what was inside and wondering if it was still in use.

As a bonus: I also wanted to light the interior, so this meant learning some electronics! As well as providing lighting for the two rooms, I became really ambitious and wanted flashing lights for a Christmas tree. I was eventually able to incorporate all three circuits onto a single circuit board, which I’d designed and had printed via Fritzing FAB, and put everything inside a little control panel.

Because of the amount of time and work that went into this MOC, it’s definitely one of my favourites. I just wish I could hook it up to a train set!

Back story

In the winter of 2012, work was finally completed on the Lime Terrace Station signal box: a new building commissioned as part of a rail upgrade between Snowdonia and the north coast. The upgrade involved replacing the traditional steam trains with modern stock, switching to electrified lines, and the new signal box replaces an older and smaller building, previously located closer to the sleepy village.

The move to electrified lines was met with strong opposition from Snowdonia's residents, citing fears of increased tourism and a high risk of accidents and danger to children. Many of them had formed a close bond with the railway, having fond memories of playing on the tracks and waving to the friendly train drivers, and even spawning a local trainspotting club - the huge upgrade would rob future generations of those experiences.

A compromise was eventually reached between the village and the commission: while the electrification of the tracks would prevail, the modern trains were ditched in favour of traditionally styled engines and carriages.

Respecting Snowdonia's close-knit community and centuries of heritage, the design of Lime Terrace Station was designed in the style of the village's architecture, all while housing the latest signalling technology. It was formally opened by Snowdonia's own "Fat Controller".

To this day the signal box is operated by Seymour: a very passionate train fanatic who studied all his life for the role. He is often visited by wifey Sydney and his son Scott, who have a hard time pulling him away!

Trivia

  • This MOC had been intended as a LEGO store display, but unfortunately it turned out to be too wide for the display case.
  • The original design called for four 16x32 White baseplates to use for the snow, but these were very expensive in the grey market. 4x6 White plates - mostly obtained from PAB walls - were used instead, which meant the building had to be elevated.
  • I was able to get hold of part 11090 - before its introduction in 2013 - to make the levers. I had asked for Black ones but instead got them in Dark Stone Grey.
  • The custom 1x8 tiles with the words "Lime Terrace Station" were produced by Minifigforlife.com.
  • The masonry bricks were easily the most expensive parts to obtain, as they were relatively new and uncommon. Fortunately I'd had a number of them in my possession, as they each fetched around GBP 0.40.
  • While taking photos of Dudding Hill Station signal box, I almost stepped on a dead rotting fox!