LB&SCR SB Review

This is a reprint of an article that appeared in the Modellers Digest summer 2022 newsletter of the Brighton Circle. The Brighton Circle was formed in 1974 with the aim of collecting and publishing information on the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Company and its constituents.

The Editor and Author granted permission for its publication here.


Building Lewes Road Signal Box by Andrew Garrood

As part of my continuing interest in the history of Lewes Road Railway station on the Kemptown branch, with plans to build a 4mm model of the station, I was keen to find a suitable signal box. Whilst the Kemptown Junction signal box is well photographed, no images exist of either of the two signal boxes that were at the station during its lifetime.

According to SRS records, the second box, built in 1895, was a Saxby and Farmer Type 5 design and thus would probably have looked similar to that at Bognor Woodgate or Drayton and have been of similar size. Lewes Road station signal box was constructed of wood and the dimensions were; length 12'0"; width 11'0"; operating floor height above rail level 6'6". The staircase and entrance were on the western, Brighton side of the box.

When I came across a downloadable card kit of Drayton this seemed a good opportunity to attempt to build the 1895 Lewes Rd Signal Box.

What follows is a review of the kit, built with some modifications, to make it more like Lewes Rd Signal Box than Drayton. To set expectations this will not be an article about an amazing piece of modelling, but more of a review of a kit quickly built and the lessons learned.


During the purchasing process you can choose between LBSCR or Southern colours as well as the Signal Box name. I chose not to purchase the interior kit as I already have one from Wills. Once you have made your purchase, using PayPal, the PDF files containing the kit are emailed to you. At this point it’s a good idea to save the files to a location you will remember rather than having to search your email every time you need them.

The kit developer also offers to sell the materials you will need which were:

  • 2 x 750 micron (0.75 mm) A4 Grey Board.
  • 3 x A4 Sticky Backed Paper for Ink Jet or Laser Printers.
  • 1 x 99 mm x 210 mm x 250 micron (0.25 mm) Transparent Sheet.
  • 150 mm x 0.6 mm Diameter wire.
  • 60 mm x 1 mm diameter wire.
  • 70 mm x 1.3 mm diameter wire

I purchased my materials separately via eBay or used items from my bottomless box of bits. Hoarding does pay off.

Amongst the tools that are useful to have handy are wire cutters, sharp X-Acto blades, tweezers and a hole punch (single hole type best). A magnetic gluing jig or similar tools to hold pieces at right angles during gluing are also useful. Lots of patience was also recommended by the vendor.

customised wall of lb&scr signal box


As designed the kit features mainly brick walls and therefore, I needed to convert the kit to a wooden structure.

To do this I used the freeware Photoshop clone, GIMP ( into which I imported the PDF files. Once there I used the Layers feature to first remove the brick walls from the kit template and then added in a cream wooden board layer to give me the clapper board wooden walls. Once complete the changed file was saved to the Gimp .XCF format to allow for later manipulation. Standard JPEG format would not be possible to adjust again so easily.

When the adjustments were complete the files were printed onto the A4 sticky backed sheets. One of the files should only be printed onto plain paper but this was all in the instructions. Something else to be careful about at this stage is to keep an eye on which of the sticky backed sheet sections should be put onto the card and which should be left on the sticky sheet. I wasted a few sheets having to re-print things because I didn`t pay attention.

lb&scr signal box shell


The kit components were well designed and simplified the construction of some of the more complex parts. For example, the roof supports were made to be attached to a larger piece of card which acted as a grip whilst you clipped out the corner to create the distinctive rounded edge. Lacking a single hole punch I had to cut them out more crudely.

Vendor note: A two hole punch may work using one end.

The instructions were fairly clear, although at some points it is worth reading them through 2-3 times to ensure you really get how the parts will go together.

I also found that not all steps had to be done in sequence and therefore you could jump ahead whilst something dried. For example, the roof and stairs can be worked on as independent pieces, whilst the main building shell was drying.

When building the walls, I found the interior wall components probably needed trimming a little more than instructed as they did not fit perfectly. This made it harder to fit the roof later, for example, and its difficult to trim them in situ.

The guttering was also difficult to do well as it involved turning up the roof edges into a U shaped gutter. My effort resulted in more of a pagoda roof effect with pointy turned up corners. I wouldn’t use that method a second time.

Vendor note: Click here and scroll to read a different method of gutter fabrication.

Probably the hardest part to get right was the cutting out of the window frames. This definitely required reading the instructions several times to get right. This was because you had to work inside out on some of the window sections and you had to get the orientation right in your mind before attempting. In addition, it was sometimes a battle to keep the thin window frame stickers from gluing themselves to your fingers whilst trying to lay on the clear plastic sheet. This is when fine tweezers and non-caffeinated drinks come in handy.

I also chose to keep the roof removable. This did affect how well it fitted and the overall look, with some of the supports looking out of position depending how much you press the roof down in a photo.

Whilst I built the kit over about a month whenever I could find the time, it was probably a day’s work if you got stuck in. So not an unreasonable amount of effort was required.

lb&scr signal box lewis road

Future Development

Whilst it’s possible to make a nice little model the greater potential of this kit is as a template for construction with more realistic materials. If the templates were printed on to sticky sheets, then applied to Plastikard, a very good cutting guide would be created. Evergreen or Ratio components could be used for the stairs, piping and gutters.

The stairs in particular are probably better made using the kit to create a jig then building up with wood strips, Plastikard or Evergreen components. The large distinctive windows would still be challenging. Perhaps 3D printed or etched brass windows would lead to a better result. Given the windows are fairly typical of Saxby and Farmer signal boxes perhaps a vendor would find a good market for them.

Vendor note: 'Built to Order' models are fitted with 3D printed window frames.

For the roof, again the printout would work best as a template, then using either a plastic roof material, for example from Ratio, or building up with card tiles is likely to give a better result than I achieved. Also add separate plastic gutters not U shaped card.

lb&scr signal box on railway


From fairly on in the construction I realised this wasn’t going to turn out to be a work of modelling art but decided to plough on to create a rough Mk 1 representation of the Lewes Road signal box.

The kit build turned out better than I expected and from a distance looks ok. The close up photos are much less kind. Dimensionally its 2ft too long as built but is the correct height and width. Its probably 90 years since anyone saw the real signal box and therefore it was enjoyable to see it appear from the past. For now it can sit in place on my Lewes Road diorama until I build Mk2.