I’ve had this one in for a while, and a grey Sunday seems about the right time to share it, as I’m sure this wonderful post from blog rail historian Ian Pell will be of interest both those engaged with local rail history and those with a focus on the industrial development of our area.
Following my posting of a 1947 map here some weeks ago, a large amount of interest was expressed in the rail lines and particularly the sidings at Highbridges, near Ryders Hayes on the Pelsall-Brownhills border.
I’m hugely indebted to Ian for this – it’s so good, and indeed an honour to feature his work here. If you have anything to add, please do comment here or mail me at BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.
Walsall Wood Branch – LNWR
Further to the recent correspondence below is a copy of the land ownership for the Walsall Wood Branch. The Plan Nos. correspond to those on the plans. In essence only Messrs. McClean and Phineas Hussey appear to have any titlement to the land at this time. Interestingly, although both men have interests in mining the line was original intended as a branch to the brick and tileworks.
These drawings of 1854 pre-date the construction of the Norton Branch which opened on the 1st February 1858 and they were not to be acted upon until 1880, when an Act was Authorised for the construction of the line by the Walsall Wood Colliery Company. I believe the colliery had opened in 1874 and while it was rail connected directly to the Midland Railway lines, it was seeking an additional route onto the LNWR system so as to supply directly to the West Midlands rather than via the more complex routes offered by the Midland Railway Company.
The line was constructed during 1881-82 and opened on the 11th October 1882.
There are two specific references to the line within the LNWR Traffic Committee Minutes for the period as follows:-
1882 9 July
Ryders Heys – the Walsall Wood Colliery Co are constructing a branch about a mile in length to connect their pits with the railway at Ryders Heys near Pelsall. They also have a connection with the Midland Co who have also provided sidings for them free of charge. They ask the LNW to do the same. Some land required but basically LNW agree.
LNW Minutes Tfc 35387
1882 16 Aug
Ryders Heyes (near Pelsall) – connection of Walsall Wood Colliery Co Branch to their site with the railway at Ryders Heyes near Pelsall. Ordered that the sidings for empties and also the connection between the L&NW siding and the new branch up to the L&NW boundary be laid at L&NW cost. No additional signalling necessary.
LNW Minutes PW 23916
It is interesting to note the spelling of Ryder’s Heys(sic) [Controversial there – Bob] – to date I have come across 11 different spellings!
The opening date for the line is confirmed within the Private siding Agreement No. 782, which is for the sidings opened by the LNW as referred to above at Norton Junction. These were the ones situated on the Pelsall side of the main line, immediately next to Norton Junction No.1 signal box,
1882 11 Oct
Walsall Wood Colliery Branch opened.
(ref:- IRS,BY, others)
Walsall Wood Colliery had opened 1874. Agreement dated 11. 10. 1882 shown on Private Sdg No. 782 map, dated 4. 1915
1882 7 Dec
Two Hunslet saddle tanks used by John Garlick, contractor, put up for auction at Brownhills LNWR station after completion of their use in the construction of the Walsall Wood Colliery branch. ‘Minnie’ was HE229 of 1879 an 0-4-0 ex. John Knowles of Woodville Derbyshire. The other loco was an 0-6-0 but no further details are known. ‘Minnie’ was sold to a Lord Kennedy?
At the end of 1882 the contractor’s locomotives were sold. Any further details regarding their fates would be appreciated.
Finally, as you can see the location of the Brickworks was directly on what I call Coppice Lane. The canal and Ford brook can be easily identified to the left of the map. At this time it was also too early for the Midland Railway which was to charge north to south across the map, but as they say, that’s another story.
As usual, hope the above is of interest