Looking for traces

The wonderful Simon Swain has been in touch with an interesting article and gallery of images of the site of the former Brownhills Railway Station, which was adjacent to the Council House (now the Parkview Centre) behind where Smithy’s Forge stands today; on the other side of the bridge, a signal box and goods sidings existed – in it’s day, it was a busy place.

It was a dull and damp 2nd December in 1962 when Peter paid a visit to Brownhills in Staffordshire. He was in time to see Jubilee 45626 Seychelles, at the time a Burton based engine, working a mixed freight. The loco is blowing steam from her safety valve which would suggest it has been stopped. 45626 lasted until November 1965 a life of 31 years. The sidings to the left are being used to stable coaching stock but a short raft of wagons occupy the goods yard. The road down to the yard has a fine Rover 80 parked in it, as it is opposite to the signal box maybe it is the signalman's Pride and Joy.

It was a dull and damp 2nd December in 1962 when Peter Whitehouse paid a visit to Brownhills.

I’m glad to feature this lovely piece of physical history investigation here, and it really is a fine thing indeed – so thanks to Simon for his hard work and wet feet!

It’s worth noting that Councillor Steve Wade and community activist Brian Stringer have both been trying to get the cutting cleared of the years of rubbish is contains, but the main obstacle is sadly the people who own it. Stay tuned for more on that one.

Simon Wrote:

Hi Bob,

I thought that I would share with readers just a small selection of my own images of the site of Brownhills LNWR station and the surrounding area. As you are probably aware the site is quite difficult to access and after the very wet weather we have had over winter the going was quite tough. In fact it was my intention to walk from the access point just off Silver Street and underneath the roundabout to the site of the station. I got to a point just short of the roundabout and the mud was to the top of wellington boot height. If this were not enough the vast amount of rubbish that has been thrown onto the trackbed would have prevented further progress.

Brownhills AA

The original main arch still exists. Image kindly supplied by Simon Swain.

The first images shows that the original blue brick arch bridge which carried the road over the railway still survives. It is pleasing to see that when the area was remodelled in the 80’s the decision was made not to remove the original bridge. The second image shows the remains of the Walsall bound platform.

Brownhills BB

Once, this was a platform. Image kindly supplied by Simon Swain.

It may only be a short section of a few rows of bricks but it’s the platform nevertheless and a remarkable survivor given the full scale clearance of the site. The third image has to be the most remarkable survivor a post which still retains its signal wire pulley. I found this as I walked away from the station site towards Anglesea.

Brownhills CC

The line never had colour light signals, rather rod, line and pulley mechanical ones, of which this is a remnant. Image kindly supplied by Simon Swain.

I did have a search to see if there were anymore but this was the only one visible to the naked eye. Images 4 and 5 are of the remains of the blue brick retaining walls to the goods yard area and are probably the most tangible remains of the railway at Brownhills.

Brownhills DD

These walls are remarkably well preserved. Image kindly supplied by Simon Swain.

Upon closer inspection the brickwork is in remarkably good condition and the more observant of readers will notice that rails remain at the top of the wall. I can only assume that the rails were there to prevent any road traffic, which would have accessed the yard off Pelsall Road, from running over the edge and onto the railway. You have previously posted a picture of the yard dating from December 1962 and you can see that the signalman parked his car in this area. I have included the 1962 image (copyright Geoff Dowling and Peter Whitehouse) as a point of reference. I did have a good rummage around in the undergrowth to see if I could find any remains of the signal box. With it being demolished nearly 50 years ago I was not expecting to find anything and was not disappointed when my search revealed no traces. Neither were there any remains of the junction for the short branch to Brownhills Wharf with Silver Street and the surrounding developments having obliterated any traces.

Brownhills EE

Interesting to see that the buddleia hasn’t got in there, yet. Image kindly supplied by Simon Swain.

My final image shows the trackbed heading towards the site of the station yard and is included for the purpose of completing the set.

Brownhills FF

This, in the absence of a railway, would make a brilliant cycleway .Image kindly supplied by Simon Swain.

I profess that I am not an expert and merely an amateur historian and I will not take offence if anyone wishes to correct any of the above information. I just thought that readers would be interested to see what remained of the towns principal station. From road level it would appear that absolutely everything has been swept away but getting down to the track level bits and pieces do remain and whilst I would not discourage anyone from going to have a look for themselves please do be aware that the going is very tough and to be prepared for rubbish and mud in great measure.

Best Wishes
Simon

Please feel free to add any thoughts you may have – either here as a comment, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

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11 Responses to Looking for traces

  1. great pics and well written

  2. ivor230240 says:

    I was Junior Booking Clerk on Brownhills Station for 6 months in 1957. I was not any good with figures and so I found a job at Harry Farmer’s sandpit in Wharf Lane. I understood that the line was LMS not as in the article. Even though I struggled with the job I have happy memories of my time there. The Station Master was Mr Chiltern and one of the porters was Daisy Rowlands. It was a busy station, we delivered parcels for the catalogue clubs and had a busy time table from 0615 until late at night. It would be good to see the Wolverhampton to Derby Line re-opened.

    • Ken Turner says:

      I have fond memories and used the station to go to Lichfield Trent Valley for a days train spotting..Daisy Rowlands was my aunt and she was a busy person..she got me a British Rail badge to put on my hat..I felt like a railway worker and was the envy of my mates.

  3. Ian Pell says:

    Hi All
    The line was originally built by the South Staffordshire Railway Company before coming into the ownership of the London & North Western Railway. On the grouping of the railways in 1923 it became part of the London Midland & Scottish Railway and finally in 1948 part of BR London Midland Region.
    Both platforms were demolished in the 1970’s as were the other stations on the line platforms at various times.
    1970 Dec 14 Work commenced on the demolition of the Brownhills Station platforms. The works were carried out in the periods 14-24 Dec, 29 Dec – 8 Jan 1971 and finally 11 Jan – 28 Jan 1971.
    The brickwork which was visible was probably from the below track level walls as these would be exposed when the tracks and ballast were lifted on the removal of the track in the 1980’s. A similar situation can be uncovered at Pelsall station in the southbound platform area.
    Finally, there were no colour lights at Brownhills, but Rushall Crossing (Up) and between Pelsall station site and Leighswood Junction in later years did boast coloured lights.
    KR Ian
    .

  4. Isobel Dams says:

    My husband’s grandfather, Ernest Robert Dams, was station master at Brownhills in the second half of the 19th century. We have a railway day pass signed by him from 1858.

    • Pedro says:

      Walsall Free Press…June 1858…

      Early on Saturday morning a horse strayed on to the line at Brownhills station, when the buffer of the engine of the return night goods train caught the horse and killed it on the spot.

  5. Ken Briggs says:

    I am intersted in helping please let some one know shall leave my email address thanks ken

  6. aerreg says:

    from an early age i was told at one time there was only one house in brownhills the station house the reason being in early parish days brownhills did not exist jos hardings shop stood on four parish bounderies my father contacted somerset house for acopy of his birth certificate it cane back in an envelope covered in different post marks it had been to several villages because it had the old parish adress no brownhils i kept i for many years of proof my other memouries the station master MR STEERS the pigion baskets PERCE JONES collecting his fresh fish sutton park change at licfield the KYNOCK workers train the smell of steem as you looked over the bridge oh happy days

  7. aerreg says:

    sorry for bad spelling and punctuation my memory good key board small big fingers god bless

  8. david oakley says:

    Hi Bob,
    Fond memories of Brownhills Station. My dad was never without poultry, either chickens and a few ducks from time to time. He would go to Lichfield Auction to replenish his little stock, and would take me with him. I had never been on a train, and as our journey involved Harper’s Gloria from Salters Road to Brownhills, then the train from Brownhills to Lichfield, I could hardly wait. We did this journey many times, and walking down to the platform at Brownhills Station never failed to excite me. There was one station en route, Hammerwich. This was in the late 1930’s. I still remember Mr. Winterton walking on a raised platform above the pens, selling off sheep and other farm animals. Then a meal in the adjacent café, often crowded with farmers. What a wonderful day out !

  9. aerreg says:

    sgreat meouries MR OAKLEY monday at the auction green hill an adventure a way of life the atmosphere the lovely smells of natures true world it was a common site on a monday when getting home from school to see oliver twist and ernie breeze guiding a poor cow they had walked from the auction to the farm by the memo i still have their drover stick by the way the deposits were worth threpence a bucket and didnt those roses grow happy days god bless

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