Might be a silly question this but I read somewhere that the steps for signal boxes usually lead up to the box from the station side ... that is if a person was climbing the steps his back would be to any approaching train ... having said that I've been looking at a lot of pics recently and it looks like the steps could be found at either side of a box.
Does anyone know if there were any actual rules/guidelines and if so what were they ... if it makes a difference just like the earlier poster I'm particularly interested in LMS/(ex)L&Y and to narrow it further ex ELR (the old one not the new one).
The most important thing about any signal box is 'SIGHTING' along the line from within the box , all other factors lead on from this, it seems to have been the case that steps normally faced towards the station platform (or the normal access point for staff) irrespective as to the direction of traffic.
 pre track circuiting it was vital that the signal man should be able to see as far as possible.
What Jerry said. Certainly at the boxes I've worked there doesn't appear to have been any pattern, except that boxes on platform ends usually seem to have the steps towards the platform. I've no doubt there were exceptions though. I can think of plenty of examples where the steps were at the opposite side to the obvious access, and a few which involved walking alongside running lines with your back to traffic. Barnsley Station Junction was L&Y, access was across a limited clearance bridge by walking along a siding ! The steps at Crigglestone Junction and Clayton West Junction (both L&Y) faced oncoming traffic, ie facing traffic when walking down them, which made a bit more sense. You had to walk along the cess to get there though.
"Chris Wilson" wrote Thanks to both of you. I'm not a rivet (or even brick) counter but I didn't want to build anything that was "obviously" wrong even at first glance. Cheers to both.
I was going to add that from all the boxes I either remember or have seen as you look at the front from the rails the steps are always on the left.... Then I thought about our own signal box at Leekbrook Junction which just goes to show there is an exception to the rules. The Step are to the right, which is the opposite end to the platform (as was), but this may be due to the fact that it faced into the junction... As I say, there is always an exception to the rules! Two pictures of this I have put up (for a few days only) are at
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As you may have seen from the photo I linked-to last week, the steps at Blackrod (not ELR I know!), are parallel to the side of the box but not on the station side. However, the box isn't accessed from the station, so this might have some bearing. I'm trying to remember which way the steps face at Chorley, but there, the level crossing may enter into the equation.
Just thinking about this, this is the full list of everywhere I've worked / am reasonably familiar with / can remember. All directions given from a point facing the front of the box:
Huddersfield Junction (GCR) - Steps on the right pointing towards the station (Penistone). Dodworth (BR) - Steps on the right onto the main road. Barnsley Station Junction (LYR) - steps on the left facing away from Barnsley station. Well dodgy access as previously mentioned. Jumble Lane (GCR) - Step on the right, onto the platform (Barnsley). Skiers Spring (LNW box, MR line) steps on the left. Crigglestone Junction (LYR) - steps on the left. Milner Royd Jcn (LYR) - steps on the right. Howe & Co Sidings (MR) - steps on the right facing away from the lineside access point. Access by walking along down loop. Low House (MR) - left, on wrong side for adjacent road, access by walking round back of box. Culgaith (MR) - right, also on wrong side for adjacent road. Access by squeezing between box and up main. Appleby North - steps on the right into p.way yard. Kirkby Stephen (BR) - steps on the left towards the station. Gardsdale - steps on the left onto the platform. Blea Moor - steps on the left towards the former cottages. Settle Junction - steps on the left. Hellifield Sth Jcn - steps on the right, on the wrong side for the adjacent platform and accessed by walking (IIRC) between the south end bay and the back wall of the box.
The MR seems to have been a bit more consistent than the others. Low House, Culgaith and Dodworth are all crossing boxes, so sighting along the road is also a consideration (which could explain why the two MR ones are on the 'wrong' side - the steps would push the box back away from the road.) To be honest, you would probably have to glue them on upside down for them to be completely unprototypical !
In the area of my interest there was a station called Aberaman. The signalbox was on the down side of the track, on the down side of the station. The first signalbox had its steps facing away from the platform, and the rebuilt signalbox had them facing towards the platform. Maybe this design change was as a result of experience.