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Here is a GWR wood cased lamp repeater made by one of their signalling contractors .

These repeaters would be installed where a signal was out of the view of the signalman and  indicated to him if the lamp at the signal or signals was lit. At the signal  the oil lamp was fitted with a bi-metalic strip conductor.  

When the lamp was burning the heat from the flame heated up the expander unit and made a contact which in turn operated the "lamp in" flag. If the lamp were to go out the expander would cool down  and break the circuit causing the flag to swing and display "lamp out"  and a bell to ring in the signal box.

The signalman could disable the bell by turning the knob on the instrument to "bell off". He would then treat the signal as defective and comply with the regulations and also arrange for the lamp to be re-lit.  

This instrument has its original brass label "UP DISTANT". This example is in ex signal box condition having just received a light clean, the coils and bell relay have been tested on 6 volts DC and operate correctly. The flag swings freely.

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