Brunswick signal boxThis signal box at Brunswick Station, near the Victoria Street crossing, will cease it's operations on Friday 2nd October 1998. These Saxons are the hands of mankind. They have the taste for toil, a distaste for pleasure or repose, and the telescopic appreciation of distant gain. They are the wealth-makers, -- and by dint of mental faculty which has its own conditions. The Saxon works after liking, or only for himself; and to set him at work and to begin to draw his monstrous values out of barren Britain, all dishonour, fret and barrier must be removed, and then his energies begin to play.

Ralph Waldo Emerson English Traits (1856)

switch.jpg (15340 bytes)With its demise will end a whole tradition of manual gate operation. With neither computer chips, nor LED displays, nor batteries, inhabitants of the signal box listen for their colleagues in adjacent stations to send a prescribed number of rings down the line, from which they would obtain their cues to commence gate operating. Dial a pizzaAs a place where humans have dwelt, this signal box is home to a peculiarly quaint humour. This old crank-style phone enables communication between boxes. Years ago, someone stuck a piece of paper to it that reads 'Dial a Pizza'.
ClockThe most modern apparatus is this 'electric' clock. With cunning forethought, a signalman has written on the outside, 'STOLEN FROM BRUNSWICK STATION'. Where will this clock end up? One day a young man observed an old sage fetching water from the village well. The old man lowered a wooden bucket on a rope and pulled the water up hand over hand. They youth disappeared and returned with a wooden pulley. He approached the old man and showed him how the device works. 'See, you put your rope around the wheel and draw the water up by cranking on the handle.' The old man replied, 'If I use a device like this, my mind will think itself clever. With a cunning mind, I will no longer put my heart into what I am doing. Soon my wrist alone will do the work, turning the handle. If my heart and whole body is not in my work, my work will become joyless. When my work is joyless, how do you think the water will taste?'

Michael Heim The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality (1993)

LawrenceLawrence is one of the last-surviving signalmen to operate this box. As a itinerant employee, he will move on to other 'more advanced' operations. Richard Cole at Jewell Sth signal box by John Werrett 1992His proud predecessors were captured in a series of photographs by John Werrit in 1992. This man, Richard Cole, is pictured sending a signal from Jewell Station to Brunswick station, just up the line.
wheel.jpg (15794 bytes)After Friday, the crank will be unattended for the rest of eternity. Is there a museum where this history will be preserved in aspic for future generations to marvel at the strange anthropocentric practices still conducted in the late 20th century. The Upfield line is boomingAt Victoria Street, the last adjustments are being made to the automatic boom gate that replaces the generations of signal men of the Upfield line.

The Railway Hotel next door advertised a 'Wake for the Gate' on its last weekend of operation.

No one turned up.

The past is forgotten, forever.

We, the overworked, the stressed-out, the weary, the jet-lagged, declare that the Industrial Revolution is over -- and we have won!...

Do not lions lounge? Do not gulls drift effortlessly on the winds? Do not dolphins play endlessly in live oceans? Are we less deserving that our fellow creatures to partake of the joys of life and the wonders of the planet and human society.

We do no seek to overthrow the system but, rather, to underthrow it.

We do not advocate resistance; we counsel surrender -- surrender to your own intuitive sense of what your body and soul need, to your innate right to sloth. We call not for sacrifice, but for indulgence -- indulgence of our need for greater fulfilment through play and contemplation.

Workers of the world relax! (Wired Magazine, 1996)

The last turn7.18pm, Friday 2 October 1998, and signalman Chris makes the last turn in the history of the Upfield line