On a recent bit of research into Oakington I came across the problem of aircraft on finals, coming into contact with railways and trains, overshooting the runway and fouling the railway or even crashing onto railway lines having not made it to the runway. The earliest reference I found to this was in WWII at Burn, but other schemes were in operation at Middleton St George (installed in 1946) and Full Sutton.
Does anyone know any more, or have pictures of these trip wires?
The position of the NE and east ends of the main and subsidiary runways were far too close to the railway track and as runway sterilisation was out of the question, it was proposed in March 1952 that a system of trip wires (at ten feet height plus an intermediate one) should be installed on each side and within the funnel approaches. The trip wires would ensure that trains would have adequate warning, so that they could pull up in time when an aircraft had crashed on the railway line. The runway was only a short distance outside the Up Home signal of Oakington station box and a scheme agreed in March 1953 included utilizing this signal to protect the runway. Trip wires were installed, which on being severed by an aircraft, would automatically place the Home Up signal to danger and its relative Up Distinct to caution and would prevent the signalmen from accepting an Up train from the rear signal box. The severing of the trip wires would also ring a warning bell in the signal box which would enable the signalmen promptly to stop a Down train likely to foul any obstruction resulting from a flying accident by putting his Down signals to danger; the Down Starting semaphore signal would also be locked in the On position when the trip wires were severed. There was also direct telephone communication between the control tower and the signal box which had been installed during WWII.