Traffic Signals

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This page illustrates some of the variety of older traffic signals once common in Victoria up to the 1970s.

Warrigal Rd, Holmsglen

Scroll down for new images. The Traffic Signals pages have all been changed and added to. I am also changing the original low-res images to higher resolution as I find the original prints or negatives to scan. Several yet to be done.

Click photos for a larger image.

Marshalite Traffic Signals. These clock style signals were used in parts of Melbourne from the 1940's. The hand swept around the face of the signal pointing to the red, green and yellow band to indicate stop, go and prepare to stop.
The last of them were along the Nepean Hwy until the late 1970's operating with synchronised traffic lights (I can remember seeing them). Their chief advantage was that you could clearly see the amount of time until a change of colour was coming. But the disadvantage was that they did not respond to variable traffic demands. Meaning you had to wait for them to cycle even if there was no traffic on the side road. Which was common along the Nepean Hwy when the parallel railway held up traffic.

Top picture: The example here is one of a pair preserved at Chelsea, Vic. The pedestrian WALK / DO NOT WALK indications are possibly not original however, although I understand such signals did exist.

Lower picture: Here is a Marshalite signal preserved inside and in operation at the Melbourne Museum in Carlton.
RACV Heritage collection. This old signal was photographed in the Wellington Entertainment Centre at Sale during a display by the RACV celebrating 100 years. Notice the 'command' lens. It has the word "STOP" embossed on the inside of the red lens. Most traffic lights used to have this until the 1960's.

Unfortunately it was not set up to operate correctly. Its sequence was Red - Amber - Green - Red. By coincidence I managed to photograph it changing from red to amber and look like both lights were on at once. In fact, this is how they used to operate in Victoria up to the 1980's. The use of the green arrow beside the red light was also how they used to be positioned in Melbourne before use of amber and red arrows.

I'm not sure of the maker of this signal, although it is probably from the UK. The green arrow is an Eagle Signal Co. product.

Early traffic signal awaiting installation at the Tasmanian Transport Museum, Glenorchy. 1993.
Older yellow Eagle Signals. Some examples of traffic signals in the earlier all yellow paint. These are some relatively rare survivors which South Melbourne seems to have an abundance of. As can be seen here, a few replacement parts in the current black colour have been used to keep them serviceable. These photos were taken around 2000.
More yellow Eagles. More earlier traffic lights in South Melbourne. These are probably from the 1960's. Most seem to be products of The Eagle Signal Co. which was quite common in Victoria at that time.
Yellow signals with green left arrow. A rare example of a green only left arrow (no amber arrow). When arrows were still a bit of a novelty, the single green left arrow came on when the right arrow for the side street came on (no conflicting movements). The problem came when the arrow went off. With no warning, people would run the red light as if to say they hadn't noticed the arrow had gone off. Obviously drivers in Sth Melbourne are better behaved and there has been no need to update this one yet.
Photo taken around 2000. The single green arrows have since been replaced with green and amber.
As above, showing the mast arm.
Another view of the same intersection.  Note early pedestrian button and 12" left green arrow beside 8" RYG (Red, Yellow, Green) signal in the background.
12" Eagle. Close-up of a 300mm (lens diameter) Eagle with louvred visors.
Enlargement of the above image showing the arrangement of the signal lanterns in front of the targetboard.
Neon pedestrian signal. Obviously there is some kind of timewarp in the South Melbourne area because here's some more old signals. The traffic light has been painted black in an attempt to modernise it, but the black has faded to the point where the faded yellow underneath is visible. Not a good look. But I digress.

The neon pedestrian signal was once common in Victoria. As you can see, the word WALK changed from red to green rather than have a separate lens for each colour.

Note also the backplate / target board which is mounted behind the signalhead. Newer signals have this mounted flush with the face of the signal.

School crossing with neon pedestrian signals. Another rare survivor. I am informed that traffic signals in some areas are the responsibility of the local shire rather than VicRoads. This also seems to apply to school crossings. Which explains why older equipment survives at certain locations.

Glen Waverley, Vic.

Neon pedestrian signal. Example of a different style neon signal - AWA?. Apart from the rounded housing, this sign is unusual in showing the apostrophe that is usually missing on the word DON'T on these signals and road signs. This signal has since been replaced by the standard red man / green man signal.

Preston, Vic.

Text pedestrian signal. This kind of signal was never common in Victoria, but was used in NSW and other states (corrections please).

The example in the photo on the left is (again) in South Melbourne. Before they started fitting a lot of these in Victoria to replace the neons, the now standard red standing man and green walking man signals came into use.

The 2 smaller photos are close-ups of one of these signals in my own collection.

. Pedestrian push buttons. Three examples of push buttons for pedestrian signals. Left; Earlier kind that read CALL RECORDED lit in red when you pressed the button. Sth Melb. Middle; Intermediate style had an illuminated red or white WAIT when pressed. Darren Hodges collection.
Right; Current style which has a red LED when pressed. Hallam, Vic.
Early instruction sign. Something from a simpler era.

South Melbourne, Vic.

Instruction label explaining the meanings of the symbols on pedestrian signals. Unfortunately, this one was facing an old text (DONT WALK / WALK) signal, as is the one in the previous photo.

Preston, Vic.

Here's a series of photos taken of the older signals at an intersection in Holmesglen, Vic.

This intersection was 'upgraded' to LED signals in April 2011.
Yes, there are still several neon pedestrian signals in operation at this location.

Holmesglen, Vic.

12" Eagle signal.
Another view of the signals at Holmesglen showing how the signals have the target boards mounted behind them and also the neon text pedestrian signals.
One of the neon signals showing the DON'T WALK indication.

Holmesglen, Vic.

The same signal showing the WALK indication.

Holmesglen, Vic.

All these signals have arrow indication.

St Kilda Junction, Vic.
A Restaurant tram glides past the traffic lights at the tram junction within St Kilda Junction. Interestingly, there is only one signal for each direction here.
Looks like I was a little late here. The older yellow signals at this tram only location had been recently replaced by modern poly signals. However, they have mounted them in the fashion of the old ones they replaced - with the green arrow beside the red circle aspect. Something not normally done anymore (see the RACV signal at the top of the page).
Also interesting is the use of normal traffic lenses rather than tram ones.

St Kilda Junction, Vic.

A selection of tram signals at St Kilda Junction. These have the usual red T and white arrow lenses. Note also the tramway point indicator to the right of the tracks. It's a traffic signal with vertical, diagonal and horizontal white bars on the lenses.
An Eagle signal seeing out its last days at St Kilda Junction. This signal is mounted at an odd angle. It may be to keep evening sunlight off the lenses.
Two views of the same signal as above.
A B class tram waits at the signals. St Kilda Junction, Vic.
Illustrating the difference between 200mm (8 inch) and 300mm (12 inch) traffic signals.

St Kilda Junction, Vic.

Red and amber before green. Although extremely rare these days, a number of old traffic signal controllers are still soldiering on. Notice the red and amber lights are on at the same time. This was once how many Australian traffic signals operated just before changing to green.

Dandenong, Vic.
Another view of the above intersection. The signals here appear to be on a fixed timer. Not activated by approaching vehicles.
A disappearing style of pedestrian push button.

Dandenong, Vic.

Still at the same location. The intersection also has an earlier Eagle symbolic pedestrian signal. Note the square lenses rather than the now common round lenses.

Dandenong, Vic.

A final view of the red and amber before green intersection. This phase lasted in common use in Victoria into the early 1980s. So it is unusual to see it in 2004 when these photos were taken. I understand there are several more examples scattered around Melbourne.

Dandenong, Vic.

Very short YouTube video of the red and amber before green sequence for those not familiar with it.
This video was taken in Pascoe Vale, Melbourne.

AWA signal with louvres. Traffic light made by AWA with tunnel visors fitted with louvres to help prevent the sun from shining on the lenses and creating a 'sun phantom' effect making it look like all lights are on.

Preston, Vic.

Bottom mounted signals. Relatively unusual are these signals mounted on top of a short mast arm in order to clear shop verandahs and tram wires.

Hartwell, Vic.

Large backplate. The overhead signal here has a larger style target board on it than usual. Although not unique, there are not many like this around. Note the lower signal has 12" lenses whilst the overhead one is 8". Yet the target board appears larger.

Abbotsford, Vic.

Early Eagle signal. Example of an earlier kind of signal made by Eagle Signal Co. Interestingly it has survived into the 21st century in Melbourne's CBD without a target board. Signals without target boards in Victoria are very unusual today, although were how all signals once appeared.

Melbourne, Vic.

Another Eagle signal. This one has the (presumably) decorative sections top and bottom which make it a little taller overall.

Melbourne, Vic.

Yet another older Eagle signal. As above.

Melbourne, Vic.

Signal with sign. Yet another example of an older signal still minus target board in Melbourne's CBD.
Pair of Eagle signals. Topped by a One Way sign in the US style is this pair of older signals outside Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne, Vic.
More Eagle signals in Geelong.  Mercer and Brougham Streets.
Mercer and Brougham Streets. Geelong.
Unusual double mast arm.

Mercer and Brougham Streets. Geelong.
Mercer and Brougham Streets. Geelong.

Eagle neon pedestrian signal.

Mercer and Brougham Streets. Geelong.
Mercer and Brougham Streets. Geelong.
Eagle signal with large targetboard. This signal had an early right hand green arrow at the bottom.
Warrigal and Canterbury Rds, Surrey Hills.
Since replaced.
Eagle signals in original yellow paint. Most were replaced or repainted black by the 1980s.
Pedestrian school crossing in Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, Montrose.
Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, Montrose
Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, Montrose

Since replaced by LED signals.
AWA-Plessey signals., Sydney.

Photo: Robert Parnell
AWA-Plessey signals outside Royal Prince Albert Hospital, Camperdown NSW.
They had probably been the oldest signals still in use in NSW until being replaced by LED signals.

Photo: Paul Rands - Expressway.

AWA-Plessey signals.

Photo: Paul Rands

AWA-Plessey signals.

Photo: Paul Rands

AWA-Plessey signals.

Photo: Paul Rands

2011 Photos - some increasingly rare survivors still operating on the streets of Melbourne.
Catch them while you can. Their days ARE numbered.
Many of these signals have already been replaced by new LED versions - some just weeks after I took the photos.

5-aspect Eagle signal. This series of photos were taken of the soon-to-be-replaced 1970s signals at the Blackburn Rd interchange of the Monash Freeway on Sunday 24th April (Easter Sunday) 2011.

Amber / green turn arrows for England St which leads to the eastbound on ramp for the freeway.

Typical 1970s overhead mast arm structure.
300mm Eagle signals with rear-mounted targetboards.
5-lantern 300mm Eagle signal. Blackburn Rd interchange. The sign above is for freeway conditions ("Ramp signals on" in this case)

Glen Waverley / Mount Waverley.   
Eagle signal. Blackburn Rd interchange.
Facing the eastbound offramp of the Monash Freeway, Blackburn Road.
300mm Eagle signal on mast arm. Original yellow paint has "self-restored" as the black paint has weathered away over the years.
Part of a signalised school crossing in Glen Waverley. 6th May, 2011

Replaced by LED signals by March 2012.
School Crossing.

Glen Waverley.

Eagle neon pedestrian signals. These were once found all over Melbourne and were the most common type in the 1970s and early 1980s. Rapidly replaced by the now familiar red man / green man signals, they have become increasingly rare since the 1990s. In the 2000s their numbers are thin, and they are replaced as they fail. Here we see two of four still working at the intersection of Springvale and Waverley Roads, Glen Waverley on 6th May, 2011.
Left: Rather long mast arms on Springvale Rd.

Right: Assorted signals.

Two more views of Springvale and Waverley.
Signalised School Crossing. Many 'mid block' pedestrian and school crossings in the older suburbs use older signals too.
Stephensons Rd, Mount Waverley. Again, taken 6th May 2011
Crank arm. This 300mm Eagle signal of a more recent vintage than others featured here is seen on a crank arm, often used where a shop verandah / awning makes placing the signal on a pole (pedestal) rather difficult.
Left: 200mm Eagle Signal with targetboard. A second signal is mounted behind it.

Right: And here's the one mounted behind the targetboard. Signals without targetboards are rarely seen in Victoria today.

Left: Another of the later style Eagle signals. Each newer design seems to become plainer. But then again, few people stop to notice any ornamentation or finer details. Well, other than myself and a few others who share these odd interests. :)


Left" Showing the detail of the targetboard. Note the pressings.

Right: Eagle signals and AWA sound generator for the pedestrian buttons.

Among the various vintage signals at the Stephensons Rd crossing is an Eagle neon pedestrian signal.

These signals have since been replaced by LED lanterns.

All photos below taken Mon 16.5.11

Yellow Eagle signals at a school crossing, Sackville St, Kew.

Opening ambers courtesy of an electro-mechanical Eagle CJ36 controller.
Unusually long visors on a signal on Burke Rd at Canterbury / Rathmines Rds, Hawthorn East.
Crossing in Rathmines Rd, Hawthorn East.
Older pedestrian button still in use.
Older Eagle signals at the intersection of Orrong and Inkerman Roads, St Kilda East / Caulfield North.
200mm signal mounted on a 'bike frame' bracket, apparently to prevent it being damaged by turning truck etc.
300mm signal on crank arm. 200mm signal and neon pedestrian signal.
Neon signal in DONT WALK and WALK sequences.
Eagle 300mm signal with larger targetboard. North Road at Tucker Rd, Ormond.
School Crossing, Tucker Rd, Ormond.
These signals were replaced by LED  less than 6 weeks later on 24.6.11
Another school crossing. Tucker Road, Bentleigh.
These signals were replaced by LED  less than 6 weeks later on 24.6.11
G+W (Gulf and Western) - Eagle Signal Company of Australia labels.
And yet another school crossing with vintage signals and controller. This one has had the targetboards painted black, but the signal heads themselves have been left yellow.
Mackie Rd, Bentleigh East.


These signals were replaced by LED  less than 6 weeks later on 24.6.11
The following photos were taken on Tuesday 2nd August 2011. Four vintage signals are in use at this intersection in North Melbourne. On the mast arm are two rare survivors. 300mm 3-aspect lanterns that appear to be AWA products. An early Eagle signal is on the pedestal as well.
300mm (12") AWA "tin" signals. Personally I do not recall seeing other examples of these. So apparently quite rare. Seeing them still in use in 2011 just makes them all the more a curiosity.
200mm Eagle with top and bottom spacer sections. I noticed this had been converted to halogen lamps.
Another early Eagle signal at the same intersection.
Left: Eagle lantern facing Errol St traffic turning into Arden St.

Right" AWA Delta 3 controller ticking away - literally.

Left: Even from the rear, the old Eagles have a certain 'elegance' (yes, I know it's a traffic light). :)

Right: 300mm AWA lanterns suspended from the mast arm.

Left: Eagle signal and Parco box.

Right: The low angle of the sun behind the signals is the reason I haven't included a photo from the front of the mast arm. Need to get back one morning when the sun is on the other side.

Next page. Traffic Signals 2.

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Page updated 19/03/2012

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