Oil, fire and water

While we’re about it, railway historian Ian Pell is becoming a regular contributor to the Brownhills Blog, and his pieces are noted and respected for their precision and wonderful content. Ian is a great writer, and pardon the pun, I’m really happy that he’s aboard.

I have a great piece in the can from Ian which I shall post up later in the week, continuing the story of the South Staffordshire Line and the water main. It’s rather wonderful.


Surprisingly few images of the now-demolished oil terminal remain. This one is from 1988 and is courtesy of the South Staffordshire Line website.

With that in mind, Ian needs a bit of help with a project, and I’d like any readers who can offer assistance to please help him. Ian asked me the following:

I am working on an article regarding Charrington’s, the oil terminal that used to be by the A5 Watling Street at Anglesey Sidings, just off the Chase Road Junction. If you know of anyone worth contacting from the 1970-80 period who worked there, I would be most appreciative.

I’m sure Ian has found them, but there are some interesting notes about Charringtons on David Hodgkinson’s site. He notes:

Ken Hubbard has given details of the end of active use of the line… ‘The last oil train into the former Charringtons and later B.P.oil depot was on the 17th May 2001.

The last load of 25,000 litres of heavy fuel oil went out by road to British Sugar at Norwich on a cold wet Thursday morning on the 6th December 2001, I was the only person to witness this. It was a sad day for the once busy oil depot that opened in 1966 and once supplied oil for power stations and industry agriculture and domestic heating, as heavy fuel oil was the main product to be stored at Brownhills.


I remember the smell more than anything. I also remember a token picket here during the fuel protest craze of a decade ago. Image from the South Staffordshire Railway website.

Three trains a week arrived during the winter months. These trains would be unloaded from usually 35 rail wagons just over 1,000,000 litres per train, and the steam that was a familiar site up the siding on those days for any one travelling along the main A5 trunk road. The steam was used to heat up the heavy fuel oil and make it easier to discharge. The other oil products diesel kerosene and red diesel or gas oil as it is known as sometimes were all transferred to the B.P. main terminal at Kingsbury near Tamworth.

The last load of medium fuel oil went out on the 27th March 2002 and the gates were finally closed on this local landmark on the 31st April 2002.’

I know David is a reader and hopefully, he can connect Ian with Ken, if Ken’s still around these parts. If that’s possible, please do drop me a line and I’ll hook everyone up.

Any other help is, of course welcome. Please comment here, or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

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8 Responses to Oil, fire and water

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    super! Many thanks !

  2. Clive says:

    Great video, i swear i could smell coal smoke and steam. Thanks to all involved.

  3. The e-mail address I have for Ken Hubbard is no longer live.
    Ken worked for Charringtons and B.P. and was with Bowmur Haulage in 2003.
    Bowmur Haulage is now the Pentalver Cannock “inland port”.

    Does anyone out there know Ken?

    • Richard Groom says:

      Is he the same Ken Hubbard who worked at Leyland Oldbury,now Asda,and also Brownhills Commercials ,Linden rd ??

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  6. Eryl Powell says:

    Well – I told my wife, who grew up in one of the houses by The Chase Inn, backing on to Chartingtons, about this article, and said they wanted people with memories of it to comment. I said “You lived there from the mid seventies to 1983, got anything to say about it?”
    “Not really,” she said, “it was noisy.”

    Succinct, I think.

  7. Mark says:

    Ken is still knocking around he stops and has a chat when I see him in the lane. Se share memories as we worked at charringtons together I was a mechanic on the trucks sad day when it closed.

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