LOOKING BACK - January 18, 2018 edition

Largest signal gantry in the world

Sunday, 21st January 2018, 6:59 am

You might well have seen this picture before it appears in the Images of Rugby book we produced for the Advertiser’s 150th anniversary in 1996 (sadly no longer in print).

The only details in the caption say that this 44-arm signal gantry at Rugby was the largest of its type in the world. It was removed when electric colour light signalling was installed in October 1939.

Well, thanks to this cutting, which appeared in the Advertiser in 1975, put together no doubt by my equivalent Memory Lane reporter of that time, here’s a tiny bit more information.

It says the signal gantry was erected in 1896 and the early construction of the Great Central Railway steel girder bridge can also be seen in the photograph.

I have Joan Gregory to thank for lending me a whole selection of cuttings which were collected by her late father-in-law Harry Gregory. He kept them all in the hope that his two grandchildren would be interested in learning more about the history of the town.

He came to Rugby from Worcester in 1927 to work at the BTH. Arriving at by train, he had been given directions to find his accommodation. But instead of turning right out of the railway station, he turned left and so was a long way from finding his planned digs.

But as luck would have it, he bumped into a girl who would eventually become his sister-in-law! She asked if she could help as he appeared lost and when he said he was looking for lodgings, she said her mother took in lodgers and so took him home with her.

He moved in and that was how Harry met Joan’s mother at the house in Winfield Street. When they married they moved to Cromwell Road.

Born in 1900, Harry died in 1993 and had always told his family the story of that very first time he arrived at Rugby station and took a wrong turn which turned out to be the right one for him in the end!

So, it’s perhaps appropriate that the first of his cuttings I’m using has a railway theme.