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Section 7: Co-acting Signals and Repeater Signals

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In 1927, a banner repeater was provided to repeat the Down Main distant signal at Haywards Heath North (Southern Railway). The banner had a yellow fishtailed arm on a black background and was surmounted by the letter "R" [7.38 & 7.39].

[7.38] Fishtailed Banner Repeater ('on').
Area: Haywards Heath North, SR   Usage: Low   Status: Historical
[7.39] Fishtailed Banner Repeater ('off').
Area: Haywards Heath North, SR   Usage: Low   Status: Historical

In May 1928, the Southern Railway installed a banner repeater signal with a black arm at Wandsworth Common [7.40 & 7.41]. It was agreed in 1929 that banner repeaters should have black arms [7.40 - 7.43] to distinguish them from illuminated disc shunting signals (see Section 3).

[7.40] Banner Repeater with Black Arm ('on').
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Obsolescent
[7.41] Banner Repeater with Black Arm ('off') ( (a) - lower quadrant type; (b) - upper quadrant type ).
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Obsolescent
[7.42] Fishtailed Banner Repeater with Black Arm ('on').
Area: All Areas   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical
[7.43] Fishtailed Banner Repeater with Black Arm ('off') ( (a) - lower quadrant type; (b) - upper quadrant type ).
Area: All Areas   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical

If a semaphore signal had both a stop and a distant arm and a banner repeater was required, then normally both arms were repeated [7.44]. A 'splitting' banner repeater [7.45] may be provided on the approach to a junction signal (semaphore or colour light), giving drivers an earlier indication of routeing.

[7.44] Combined Stop and Distant Banner Repeater (e.g. stop arm 'off', distant arm 'on').
Area: All Areas   Usage: Medium   Status: Historical
[7.45] Splitting Banner Repeater (e.g. electro-mechanical type; junction signal ahead cleared for a (lower speed) right-hand route). Click Here for Photo
Area: All Areas   Usage: Medium   Status: Current

The resignalling at Glasgow St. Enoch (LMS) in 1933 had, unusually, provided fishtailed banner repeaters in rear of two three-aspect colour light stop signals situated on the North Curve approach to the station. Each banner repeater remained 'on' (see [7.42]) while the relevant colour light signal displayed either a red or a yellow aspect, changing to 'off' (see [7.43]) only when the signal displayed a green aspect. They were provided for propelling moves.

A repeater signal at Shafton Junction (London Midland Region), situated on the through siding from Brierley Junction, comprised a miniature semaphore distant signal with a board attached to the post, bearing a black letter "R" on a yellow background [7.46]. The repeater signal in 'off' position [7.47] indicated that the Home signal located 256 yards in advance was 'off' but drivers had to be prepared to stop at the Down Main Starting signal beyond.

[7.46] Semaphore Repeater Signal ('on').
Area: Shafton Junction   Usage: Low   Status: Historical
[7.47] Semaphore Repeater Signal ('off').
Area: Shafton Junction   Usage: Low   Status: Historical

A unique form of repeater signal was provided at Exeter City Basin (Western Region) in 1957. This repeated a semaphore signal that controlled the exit from the Basin branch and which was obscured by the curvature of the line. The arm of the repeater signal was coloured yellow with a black chevron but was square-ended, not fishtailed [7.48 & 7.49].

[7.48] Semaphore Repeater Signal ('on').
Area: Exeter City Basin   Usage: Low   Status: Historical
[7.49] Semaphore Repeater Signal ('off').
Area: Exeter City Basin   Usage: Low   Status: Historical

The emergence of fibre-optic signal technology in the early 1980s offered the prospect of a replacement form of banner repeater with no moving parts. The original trial design was installed in 1984 at Smethwick Rolfe Street (London Midland Region), repeating signal number NS339. The driver was presented with a display similar to the traditional electro-mechanical form of banner repeater (see [7.40 & 7.41]), with the exception that the black and white areas were transposed so that the 'banner' appeared as an area of white light against a dark background [7.50 & 7.51]. Apparently this was done because of a perceived objection to giving an indication by the 'absence' of light. Nevertheless, subsequent installations of fibre-optic banner repeaters (as well as later LED variants) reverted to the previous display comprising a dark banner against a light background [7.52 & 7.53].

[7.50] Experimental Banner Repeater ('on').
Area: Smethwick Rolfe Street   Usage: Low   Status: Historical
[7.51] Experimental Banner Repeater ('off').
Area: Smethwick Rolfe Street   Usage: Low   Status: Historical
[7.52] Banner Repeater ('on').
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Current
[7.53] Banner Repeater ('off').
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Current

In 1992, the provision of fishtailed banner repeaters (see [7.42 & 7.43]) for distant signals was discontinued for new works.


In July 2007, a banner repeater signal at Norton Bridge (number SC3616BR) was experimentally altered to be capable of showing three indications. The new third indication, which comprises a diagonal black bar against a green background [7.54], informs the driver that the colour light signal ahead is displaying a green aspect (see [2.97]). This gives a driver running at maximum permissible speed the confidence to maintain full speed knowing that the signal ahead is showing green. The three-state banner repeater exhibits the usual white 'off' indication (see [7.53]) when the main signal displays any 'proceed' aspect other than green. The 'on' indication remains unchanged (see [7.52]). In November 2007, a further banner repeater, at Watford Junction (number WJ182BR), was converted to a three-state banner as part of the same trial. Even though three-state banner repeaters have since been adopted for permanent use, it is not intended that all existing banner repeaters will be converted to show a green indication. The green indication will only be used where it is considered beneficial. Where a three-state banner repeater is used to repeat a colour light distant signal, the 'on' indication is never displayed.

[7.54] Three-State Banner Repeater showing 'Clear'. Click Here for Photo
Area: All Areas   Usage: High   Status: Current