Not sure if this is the right forum, but I was fascinated to see the pic of Hadlow Road signal box. I grew up in a mining valley in South wales, and our village - the end of the line - had one just like this.

The signalman was also the accompanist for the local choir. Entirely self-taught, and one of the finest amateur pianists I've ever heard, he had managed to get a piano into the box too! Quite a feat as it must have weighed a ton, still, there were plenty of miners who were as strong as horses to help him get it there. As there were only a handful of trains a day, he had plenty of time to practice the music they needed - mainly Oratorios like The Messiah or the Creation etc. and to accompany the soloists as they rehearsed their solos. As often as not, one would see a group of passers-by on the road listening to these rehearsals.

His musical tastes were eclectic. He liked jazz and ragtime, and one would sometimes here improvised versions of popular songs drifting from the open windows between trains. His idea of relaxation I suppose! I owe my own love of jazz and playing the piano in no small part to hearing him, although I doubt I ever spoke to him more than once or twice. When the line was axed, I climbed into the signal box before it was demolished. It was just like the Hadlow road one. The piano had gone, but you could see the marks on the floor where it had sat, and the piano stool, and the wear underneath where the pedals had been, as witness to how much time he had spent at it.

Dangerous? Well, The H&S people would probably have had kittens if they'd existed then, but in fact, with only a handful of trains a day, his duties extended to operating the occasional signal. to allow the train into the block - the end of the line - and out again. I doubt there was any real risk at all!