Longmoor Military Railway: flag signalling and block working

Hello all. For a starters, I am a civvy, septic Spam John Q Public who's never served in any military... and I am a Fat Controller Walt with a yen to construct a (very) miniature railway. My interest in railway operations and safeworking leads me very often back to the spiritual home of such things, Britain. Of particular interest to me are low-cost, low-tech methods, such as were (are?) found under in colonial settings, on military railways, and under wartime conditions. So, much "research" (reading online) has centered on the Longmoor Military Railway, but much of what's available online is vague at best. So, I come to you, asking if any ARRSers -- maybe some with direct experience? -- might be able to shed light on any of the following:

- This Army "flag board" signalling: what's it all about? How did it work? What sort of equipment was used?
- Telephone block signalling between "block posts": same sort of questions as above, as well as a description of the forms used
- What's this about working a station on the "regulator system"?
- Was there any provision for interlocking on a line signalled by flag boards and telephone block? a
- What was pen graph dispatching?
- Any interesting tidbits concerning the Army's railway rulebook would be most welcome!

Thanks all.
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Book Reviewer
Not the faintest answers re the Longmoor railway other than it makes a useful LOD to attack the village, but you might like to try this lot to get some more answers?
You may also be interested in:

I have this as well

All books shown have sections on signalling and block working
You may also want to try asking on the RailUK forums, home to people with very deep subject matter knowledge on trains.


There are a few of us with experience in mainline and light rail signalling including all sorts of token and block working, however Military railways have always been a bit specialised and finding someone alive who knows is getting harder. I worked with a few ex national servicemen who indeed were on Longmoor but personal recollections aside there have been some good books and a very good website on the subject.


Longmoor Downs station, as might be expected, is the largest on the railway, and is separated from the rest of Longmoor Camp by the Liphook - Greatham road. The station consists of a large island platform, situated between a number of tracks, with a brick signal box in the middle, The box has an 80 lever interlocking frame and controls lines in five directions,
From Longmoor Military Railway
So it seems it was signalled and interlocked.


longmoor military railway - Google-Suche

Lots of signals evident. I suspect its a naming convention which ensures military names aren't used twice for the railway. Semaphore was taught up until WW2 for signalling. This is where I suspect flag signals and block posts (signal boxes) comes from.
The signalling on the line evolved from WW1 up until the Cold War. The most complexity in terms of operation wasprobably in the WW2 period as you might expect with men and materiel being moved in andout of the camp around D-day.

I will have a look in the book later but certainly the later and more complex operation did use "conventional" railway interlock and block section operation.

Longmoor was an incredibly busy system and hence it had to have a robust system in place to move personnel and equipment around safely.

Books 1 and 2 of the trilogy above contain fairly detailed descriptions of the evolution of the signalling on the line.


I would have expected to find absolute block on the main sections with OTIS or token on single line sections with loops brought in to play for busy periods. Berth track circuits may not have existed due to costs, I expect train waiting would be in place if needed.


According to one website during training sessions it was often signalled using lamps at night and flags in daylight. Hand signalled as its called but on layouts for training;
As a training railway it was often being constructed or deconstructed. The layout would change often, and at one time there was a machine that could lay 1500 yards of track a day. At its peak, the railway ran to over 70 miles of operational track and sidings.

The vehicles and stock on the LMR were very much an assortment to give the maximum training opportunities. Well over a thousand locomotives had associations with the railway during its time, although many only through the need for storage. The same was true of the signalling systems at various locations on the line, including an Army version of flag signalling, (designed to be used in an emergency when all signalling had been destroyed). The section between Whitehill and Hogsmoor was operated by this system; the signalman using flags during the day and hand-held paraffin lamps during hours of darkness. Some of the main line was twin operated under a normal block operation signalling, using semaphore-type signals, whereas single line operation was under the single line block system.
Somewhat embarrassed to admit to liking the film, but there is decent colour footage of the railway, and some engines, carriages, etc in the 1966 `Great St Trinians Train Robbery'. Just flagging that to our US OP who may not know of that, err, classic of British cinema.
Railway Bylines* magazine is running occasional features on the railway atm.

*A very interesting magazine about industrial and narrow gauge railways.

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