Book Review: Block Bells, Buttons and Dusters

Block Bells, Buttons and Dusters book
Credit: RailAdvent

Block Bells, Buttons and Dusters was released a few months ago from publishers Chime Whistle Publishing and is a pictorial record of some of the signal boxes across the mainline network.

The book is written by Jonathan Webb and has 300 pages and is primarily constructed from pictures from inside and outside of various signal boxes. The hardback book measures 30 cm x 21 cm and at the time of writing can be picked up for around £30.

The book covers a number of individual signal boxes along with all the signal boxes on a particular line.

Signalman - Block Bells Buttons and Dusters
Credit: RailAdvent

The book is split into 24 sections and covers the following signal boxes/lines:

  • Stafford
  • Birmingham New Street
  • Liverpool Lime Street
  • North Warwickshire Line
  • Lincoln
  • Coventry
  • Edgeley Junction No. 2
Block Bells, Buttons and Dusters book
Credit: RailAdvent
  • Trent Valley
  • Harringay Park Junction
  • Satley
  • Norton Triangle
  • Bentley Heath
  • Banbury
  • Leamington Spa
  • Leicester to Peterborough
  • Aston
  • Wellington
  • The Fylde Line
  • Nuneaton to Leicester
  • Bescot to Rugeley
  • Derby
  • Smethwick to Hartlebury
  • Tyseley
  • Pinxton to Sleights Siding East
Salwick signal box - Block Bells Buttons and Dusters book
Credit: RailAdvent

The book provides a history of each of the signal boxes along with pictures of the signal box (sometimes both inside and out).

The book is very easy to digest, you could read it from beginning to end or just dive in wherever you like. The numerous pictures tell a story of a thousand words. It is very easy to spend a number of minutes exploring the detail of just one image, looking at how many levers were in some of the signal boxes and how they sit alongside computer equipment. I found it fascinating to see how much of the old technology remained in so many signal boxes until very recently. Some of the signal boxes would look at home on today’s heritage railways.

Block Bells, Buttons and Dusters book
Credit: RailAdvent

In summary, even if you have no previously had an interest in the signal boxes along the railway, I think you would find Block Bells, Buttons and Dusters an interesting insight into an increasingly lost part of railway history. Some of the signal boxes featured in this book have already been demolished as more modern signalling equipment takes over.

The book is available to purchase from Chime Whistle Publishing.

We would like to thank Chime Whistle Publishing for providing us with a copy of the book for review.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Presentation/Layout
Technical Information
Value for money

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