Locomotive Breath

Whilst bimbling around the internet today, I checked out the excellent South Staffordshire Railway site, curated by Dave Cresswell who’s been a regular reader and contributor here for some time. The lovingly crafted site is dedicated to the reopening of the line from Walsall to Lichfield – a noble aim, a subject upon which I support and have commented at length in the posts ‘Train in vain‘ and ‘On the right track?‘ previously.

The site often turns up some great historical ephemera, and contains a whole bunch of great pictures and comment, but my attention was particularly snagged today by the following two utterly remarkable films, apparently filmed in 1975. They are recordings of the view from the cab of a freight train, running the line from Ryecroft to Lichfield City on a dingy, wet day.

People familiar with the cycle track that the railway became between Goscote and Pelsall will spot familiar landmarks – and do look out for the old sidings at Highbridges (‘Norton Junction’ apparently) and the Anglesey Oil Terminal on the A5. Notable also are the former Council House and Brownhills Bridge, Fosseway Crossing and old Brewery at Lichfield.

I congratulate Dave and all those behind this excellent project on such a wonderful historical find, beautiful conversion and fascinating site. Please do pay it a visit.


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11 Responses to Locomotive Breath

  1. Dave Cresswell says:

    Thank you for your kind comments but I cannot accept all the credit for this site as its Rob Taylor and Steve who are the main force behind it. Im just a contributor through many of the photographs. I originally started taking them more for nostalga purposes as I used to sit on the emabnkment as a kid watching the freight trains go past.

    • Sorry, guys, I’m aware it’s not solely your work and I was a bit sloppy with my attribution there. Your work is excellent, illuminating and dedicated, and I salute it wholeheartedly.

      I, too, remember watching the freight trains rattle past on summer evenings, and miss their sound. Such a shame the line was taken up.

      Best wishes


  2. Neil says:

    Hi Bob, interesting video of the old rail route but I can’t imagine anyone stumping up the cash to re-open the route in our current cash-strapped times.

    Do you think the best best we can hope for is sustrans clearing the route as a cycle track between Walsall and Lichfield as part of national cycleway?

    Keep up the good work Bob!

    • I suggest you read my post ‘Train in vain’ for my views on that.


      Sadly, since Walsall Council (and the government) have just about given up on any pretence to support cycling, we’re unlikely to see the route opened up any further – plans to do so were abandoned finally recently after languishing forgotten for the past five years.

      I think the line will reopen as a freight route in time. The freight industry is desperate for extra capacity, and that will drive it.

      Best wishes


      • Neil says:

        Cheers Bob, read your old post and agree with what you’re saying. A quick check on Sustrans web page suggests that the lengthening of the route into Brownhills is still planned but I always feel Sustrans isn’t 100% committed to our little chunk of the map.

        Thanks again.

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  5. clive says:

    well done to all involved, just watched the film footage of the loco going from walsall to lichfield, pure magic.
    cheers to all

  6. Pablo Oplywiss says:

    Fascinating – I vividly remember as a boy playing around the fields off Pelsall Lane, Rushall, & being quite frightened by the size & power of the trains rumbling through. Interesting to see the piles of debris on the tracks under Pelsall Lane bridge.

    Also interesting as a modern-ern Clayhangorian to see the empty fields where my home now sits.

    The cycle route is a joke. I’ve used it quite often to go & see my folks still in Rushall, & if I wanted an assult course I go cycle elsewhere!

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