ExCon90 wrote:During hours when Whitefield was an open train-order office, would the operator be responsible for the ball signal, or would the distance from the station require a separate operator in the shanty or else have the train crews operate the signal? An employee TT from that period might have the answer, if anybody has one.
I had a chance today to dig out a B&M employee timetable dated October 28, 1956, at which time Whitefield was still an active agency. Unfortunately it doesn't answer your question. Whitefield (the station and operator's office) and Whitefield Junction (the diamond) were listed as separate timetable points a half mile apart and my guess is that the operator was likely busy enough that he didn't make the trip every time a train showed up, but the ETT doesn't specify yes or no. The instructions for operating the ball signal are identical to those in the 1978 timetable I referenced earlier. In 1956 there was also a lengthy special instruction about B&M and MEC trains using each other's tracks for switching moves within yard limits, including setting an "electrically operated" (probably a semaphore?) signal south of the diamond.
I noticed that in 1956 ball signals were also still in use at Waumbeck Junction (that one lasted into the 1970s), White River Junction, Nashua, and Concord. The latter two controlled movements at various junctions and switches within yard limits rather than diamonds. I didn't realize they lasted that long.