Now departed

Yesterday, I posted about a new exhibition coming to the Walsall Local History Centre on the subject of Brownhills Past & Present. Stuart Williams had supplied some really great images with the exhibition press release, one of them being of a steam locomotive at Brownhills Station from ‘the early 1900s’.

Hoping to get the attention of the railway buffs, I asked if anyone knew what it was. Quick as a flash, I had this excellent email from Ian Pell, who’s contributed so much material to the blog on the subject of railways in the area – he’s also a dab hand at local choral history and on water main repairs, too!

I’d like to thank Ian for yet another stellar piece, and please, if you ave anything to add, please mail me at BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or comment here. Thanks.

[There is an post with improved information from Ian Pell on this engine entitled ‘Following the engine’ here. Please read that, too. –  Bob]

Ian Pell wrote:

WLHC2923 Brownhills Railway Station, early 1900s

Photograph of a steam locomotive and carriages in Brownhills Railway Station, taken in the early 1900s – From the exhibition. Anyone know what it is? Image supplied by Walsall Local History Centre.

Hi Bob

[There is an post with improved information from Ian Pell on this engine entitled ‘Following the engine’ here. Please read that, too. –  Bob]

Following on from the photograph in the Brownhills Past and Present article, I would like to offer some observations, albeit that locomotive identification is not my strongest suite.

The photograph is one of a number taken around the 1903-10 period probably by a Mr. Thomas Hinckley who was a known photographer of the Walsall railways around this time.  He worked as a platelayer for the railway. The photograph certainly post dates 1903 when the Clearing House headcodes were introduced and my best guess is around 1908.

WLHC2923 Brownhills Railway Station, early 1900s

Looks like 465 to me – but contributions welcome.

The locomotive is difficult to identify, possibly being either  LNWR  No. 414, 454 or 464.  Any clarification of its number would be appreciated.  What I can tell you is that the locomotive is a Francis Webb tank  1PA 2-4-2T, built sometime after 1890 and withdrawn certainly prior to 1935 if one of the above numbers.  The class comprised of 160 locomotives, some being modified earlier similar types,  others being fitted for push-pull fitted auto trains.  Some of the local Brownhills and Lichfield workings, together with others on the radiating LNWR lines around Walsall (including the ‘Dudley Dasher’ and the ‘Dudley Dodger’ workings) were so fitted, usually comprising of the locomotive at the south end and two or even three carriages.  Workings were usually propelled in the ‘down’ direction (ie:- towards Lichfield) and worked by the driver from the front coach.  It was not unknown for them to do a spot of freight shunting between passenger turns, even with the coaches still attached!

The 2-4-2Ts were intended to displace the ‘Samson’ class of tender locomotive on secondary duties.  They were known for their apparently difficult riding characteristics, but were well liked by crews and good work horses for all that. 

At the Grouping they became LMS Nos. 6601 – 6757 and some even gained their BR Nos.; the LMS numbers being given the ‘4’ prefix.  They were also commonly seen at Birmingham New Street and many other ex-LNWR outposts.  The last of the class was withdrawn in 1955 from Swansea Paxton Street (Victoria) shed.

Walsall shed (known locally as Ryecroft) was allocated a good number of these tanks over the years.  Thirteen were allocated in 1935 and even as late as the early 1950’s four were still being used in the area, usually on the Dudley workings. 

Returning to the photograph; the working is possibly the 13.14 Lichfield City to Walsall – Motor Train which operated in that period, or alternatively, the 11.30 Lichfield City – Wolverhampton (High Level) which was not an auto train working and which by 1910 was only operating to Walsall. On the right of the picture is the original South Staffs station building, which on the enlargement of the station in 1876 became the station master’s house.

[There is an post with improved information from Ian Pell on this engine entitled ‘Following the engine’ here. Please read that, too. –  Bob]

Hope the above is of interest.

Henesford signal box. mage supplied by Ian Pell.

Henesford signal box. mage supplied by Ian Pell.

Bloxwich Signal box - Image supplied by Ian Pell.

Bloxwich Signal box – Image supplied by Ian Pell.

On a slightly sad note this morning saw the demise of the remaining mechanical signal boxes on the Cannock line – Bloxwich, Hednesford No.1 and Brereton Sidings.  Hopefully, the funding has been found to relocate the Brereton Sidings box to the Chasewater Railway, otherwise it will be consigned to history.  Hednesford No.1 which dates from 1877, was one of the oldest LNWR boxes operational on the system so it is a particularly sad loss.  There was a suggestion that it may be preserved in the local park but I haven’t heard anymore regarding this story.

Brereton Sidings signal box. Image by Ian Pell.

Brereton Sidings signal box. Image by Ian Pell.

Saturday will see the end of Bescot Tower signal box and Monday the closure of Walsall PSB (Power Signal Box) at Pleck Junction, Walsall. Incredibly this box opened in 1965, nearly fifty years ago!  

All of the signalling which these boxes undertook will then be taken over by new panels (sorry , computer screens) at Saltley.

Kindest regards


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2 Responses to Now departed

  1. Clive says:

    Nice one Ian,

  2. Pingback: Following the engine | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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