It’s the rail thing


A new image of the SLS May 1959 rail tour up the soon to be lost line from Aldridge to the Conduit Colliery in Norton Canes. Image spotted on Six Bells Junction by Simon Swain, sourced from the John Debens Collection.

A great one for the train enthusiasts comes in from new Brownhills resident Simon Swain, who’s been doing some great railway history stuff in the South Staffordshire Railway group on Facebook – it seems that the notorious May 1959 rail tour up the Walsall Wood line to the Conduit Colliery – from which a few pictures have emerged over the years – continues to fascinate and unearth new images.

We’ve covered an enquiry into this tour before, with an interesting question from Ian Clark here, which was brilliantly (as always) answered by Ian Pell in this post ‘Bending Conduit’ here.

Simon asked:

Dear Bob,

My name is Simon Swain and I have been a resident of Brownhills for 18 months living on Albion Road.

I am an avid rail enthusiast and researcher of local history. Having only been a resident of the area for a short period of time I feel that I have barely scratched the surface of the vast wealth of railway and industrial history and my research is very much a work in progress.

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This image – note the typo in the date – was the same tour stopping at the then derelict Walsall Wood Station. This image appeared in ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

The reason for me contacting you is that I have found an image on the internet that states it is of an SLS special at Conduit Colliery on 30th May 1959 and I attach the image for your reference in the hope that this could be posted on your excellent blog. I have seen that there are several people who have been able to provide information on the location and flesh these images out and I’d be grateful if any readers could provide further information.

DMU on 30051959

A remarkable image supplied by Ian Clark of the Stephenson Locomotive Society, this is of the same rail tour above taken near the Conduit Colliery. Click for a larger version.

The copyright for this picture is the John Debens Collection and the website it appears on is

You can see the information page and more pictures of this tour here.

On a separate note my home backs onto Coppice Lane and I understand that there was a residence on Coppice Lane called Coomb House. Despite an exhaustive search I have been unable to find any images of this property. Would this be something readers could help out with?

Kind Regards

Thanks Simon for the great enquiries and kind words – you’re always welcome here, and thanks for a really good question!

Yes, Coombe House was one of several houses on Coppice Lane. There was The Coppice, next door, and a farm in the area of Marklews Pond, which is alleged to have been the last Tommy Shop operating in the UK (although several contributors here, including top local history wonk Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler have issues with that claim.

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1921 1:10,000 mapping showing Coppice Lane and environs; not Coombe House, centre, and The Coppice, just west, but also cottages and terraces in the Coppice Side area. Mapping from the National Library of Scotland archive. Click for a larger version.

The two big houses were the homes originally of mine agents; Coombe House outlived it’s neighbour by some years, and was the home of Dr. George Bradford (hence Bradford Road) for some years, who was believed to have operated a surgery there as well as elsewhere in Brownhills.

The house was later in the ownership of Brownhills Urban District Council, whose surveyors used it as offices and a certain blog regular used to work there. After that, it became a music club, called the Pennycliffe, before falling into dereliction and eventually demolition in the early 1970s.

I have never seen a picture of Coombe House. If anyone has one, I’d love to share it – but there is footage of it in the remarkable film of Brownhills and surrounds in the early 1960s made by the cinefilm club.

Coombe House is the large building where the surveyors are working in the opening scenes.

Please, if anyone has anything to add, you’re welcome. Comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

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4 Responses to It’s the rail thing

  1. Ken Briggs says:

    Try Chaz mason he has a great interest in railway local all I can remember is the midnight good train going through clayhanger in the late 60s

  2. Kathleen groves says:

    i just seen the film of round brownhills i enjoy it as i live in brownhills i come from ogley rd

  3. Mick Bullock says:

    I lived next door to Penny and Cliff at Great Wyrley just after they gave up the ‘Pennycliffe Nightclub’

  4. Windows Live says:

    I lived in Leighswood Road in Aldridge alongside the “Midland” line to the Chase and the various pits including the Conduit. I remember seeing the excursion mentioned crossing the bridge by our house. The section from Walsall Wood to Aldridge was still double until during the war when it was singled because of the shortage of steel. The LMS had over 200 horses for delivery services in Birmingham and during the war a special works train came round on a Sunday once a year to cut the grass on the embankments for them. To move back another generation – my father Alf Boulton was brought up in the Beehive Stores In Norton Canes which was kept by his parents (alf)Fred and Alice Boulton. From 1920 – 22 he went to QMS in Walsall. This entailed catching the early train from Brownhills West station to Aldridge to change onto the Birmingham – Walsall service. The quickest way was to walk along the railway. If he was lucky the engine for the Aldridge train which had previously taken a rake of empties to the Conduit or Heath Hays and was running back as a “light engine” would stop and give him a lift on the foot plate. He described how once a year Jerome’s arranged for a special passenger train to come up to Norton to take the miners and their families on a trip to Blackpool. We still have a wooden stool which stood in the shop and had been made in the Carpenters’ workshop at the Conduit. Geoffrey Boulton. Date: Sat, 23 Apr 2016 13:50:46 +0000 To:

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