This is a lower-quadrant signal, as was standard on the GWR and the former Western Region of BR as it became - this means the arms move to point roughly 45 downwards to give a clear indication to the trains.
It has four 'dolls' because there were four possible lines a passing train could be routed onto.
The higher the doll, the more important the route - the second line from the left was the through running line here.
My grandfather had been a stationmaster in Malvern and our whole family understood trains and signals.
When I got a bit older, he explained how the signalling system works, and what actually happens inside those mysterious signal boxes - and I was hooked!
This site now includes photo pages of signals at: West of England centre where the GWR and LSWR main lines crossed one another.
I have included individual pages for Exeter West (above, right), Exeter Middle, Exeter Central, Cowley Bridge Junction and Exeter City Basin boxes.
After a number of these explanations had accumulated amongst my pages in wholly ad-hoc fashion, I eventually added a small dictionary of links to photos with captions that explain how particular items of equipment work.
But apart from those I'll leave the technical details to the experts, and concentrate here on sharing some highlights from my photo collection, as well as my reasons for finding a passion for signals!
Each has its own style of spectacle glass casing too, and see how the rightmost doll is missing its finial!
The distant (lower, yellow) arms on the second and fourth dolls are of an unusual pattern that was only found at Newton Abbot - these are operated by motors (the black boxes) mounted immediately behind the arms themselves, a very rare arrangment, and again have a distinctive spectacle glass holder design. The shorter home arm on the very left leads to a lower-grade goods line, and the distant arm on the 3rd doll is fixed to indicate that trains must always proceed with caution when travelling by that route.
Over the years I accumulated a collection of about 2000 railway photos, almost all on 35mm transparencies, though I had more or less stopped taking signal photos in the late 1990s.