Yet again I’m indebted to local rail expert and historian Ian Pell, who’s brought his considerable expertise to the question of the Chester Road railway bridge on Brownhills Common, and raised an interesting question about the nature of the bridge itself.
This is in specific reply to the young David Evans’ enquiry, and follows on from other recent local rail material to be featured here, of which there is much more to come.
Thanks to Ian for yet another authoritative and beautifully written contribution, and as vera, if you have anything to add, please do – comment here of mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.
Below is part of the 2 chain maps produced for the Walsall Wood Branch around 1923.
The map clearly shows the proximity of the station’s platforms to the abutments for the Chester Road Bridge and therefore the need for the railway to be as ‘flat’ as possible for sighting purposes. The map appears to imply that the bridge was constructed as shown in its current form from the beginning; however both 1882 and 1887 OS maps show a road overbridge. Possibly as a result of subsidence this appears to have been replaced by 1902, as this edition of the OS shows the form as in the above map. It is also possible that due to the ground condition when replaced, a similar situation which arose at Bridgeman Street in Walsall resulted. It is also a possibility that the initial idea of a road overbridge was not undertaken and that the OS just copied information supplied to them by the railway company prior to the line’s opening.
The line to Brownhills West was opened to goods traffic by the Midland Railway on 1st April 1882. The goods and mineral only section further north was opened on 1st November 1882 to Cannock Chase Sidings. The later information has only recently come to light from Midland Railway sources. This seems to imply that the railway from Conduit Colliery Sidings Junction across the causeway to the sidings at Cannock Chase Colliery were initially in Midland Railway ownership and built by the Midland Railway before at some stage becoming part of the colliery lines. Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Certainly, at some time prior to 1923 this section of track appears to have changed ownership if that is the case as the Sectional Appendix of the period shows the line commencing from Conduit Colliery Sidings?
The map also clearly illustrates the footpath between Chester Road and Watling Street.
Sorry to be so verbose, but hope of some help and interest.