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August 18, 2016 AT 5:55 pm

Image Collection of British-Style Wigwags, Level Crossing Warning Light Systems

After my recent blog about Charles Adler’s ‘automatic speed-control system‘ for road travel in which I highlighted one of Adler’s earlier inventions that lead to modern railroad crossing lights, reader Speedwell pointed out the Wikipedia article for wigwags. This in turn lead me to the British mention of wigwags, their own non-pendulum alternate flashing lights systems found at level crossings.

I’m still something of a Flickr nerd, and consider it an indispensable resource for finding images of subject matter – sometimes more-so than Google Image Search which crawls the greater web. Which is why I was really happy to find Glen Wallace’s fairly extensive album titled ‘Level Crossings,’ of British-style wigwag setups. Surprisingly, some of these images even feature clear blue skies up above!

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This image shows a crossing in 2010:
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And upgraded several years later, “from an automatic open crossing (AOCL) to half barriers (AOCL+B)”:
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Interestingly, and perhaps any British reader can enlighten me why this is so – but many British wigwags appear to be installed at fairly acute angles to the roads they cut through; i.e. the tracks run at a sharp angle. Is there a reason why this is the case? In the States train tracks are usually fairly perpendicular to the road they bisect.

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I like the choo-choo icon in these signs:
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With older style signage and an actual train passing through:
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See many more images on Glen Wallace’s Flickr account.


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2 Comments

  1. Regarding the angles of intersection, I think it’s down to the fact that virtually nowhere in Britain uses the grid system of road planning (the exception is Milton Keynes, a post-war New Town where the grid layout was tried). Roads are more likely to exactly follow the geography of the land they’re on (you should see some of the roads near me in Wales), and often are built on the paths of roads and tracks going back centuries. It’s a similar story for railway lines. Finally, we’re a relatively small chunk of rock and there tends to be less room to wiggle things so that they’re perpendicular!

  2. Hi Steve, Actually the ‘small chunk of rock’ sentiment is probably pretty accurate when it comes to infrastructure planning, and I hadn’t considered that perspective. Makes sense. Thanks for chiming in.

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