One of the final few

One of the final diesel freight services to rumble through Brownhills on the 9th March 1984. Image by John Whitehouse, courtesy of Simon Swain.

Local rail buff Simon Swain has been in touch with a remarkable image of Brownhills recording the very last days of the railway here – just before construction of the Miner Island in 1984.

Simon has previously sent some wonderful material to the blog, and this is no exception; previously he’s investigated the remnants of the lost Brownhills Railway Station and of the Grove Colliery. Simon’s work is always thoughtful and interesting, and here he raises related questions about the similarly lost Taylor’s Cafe, a gallery of which can be seen here.

Thanks to Simon for a great contribution and a remarkable photo – so what do you know? Comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Simon Wrote:

Hi Bob,

A very good friend of mine sent me a link to this wonderful photograph taken by photographer John Whitehouse of the former South Staffordshire line through Brownhills on 9th March 1984, a mere 10 days before the line between Lichfield and Walsall closed as a through route.

In my relentless search for photos of the railway in Brownhills opening the attachment and coming across this nostalgic gem sent shivers down my spine.

The description with the photo is as follows:

The section of the South Staffordshire Railway between Walsall and Lichfield closed as a through route on 19th March 1984, with just a stub from Lichfield to Angelsey Sidings remaining to serve the Charrington’s Oil Depot. On 9th March 1984, ten days prior to closure, Class 47 No. 47211 rumbles through Brownhills heading a Scunthorpe – Severn Tunnel Junction freight, which was one of a handful of services which used the line right up to closure.

I posted the picture on a couple of Facebook groups and the overwhelming consensus was that it was a true gem. It did however spark a bit of a debate and this is where the wonderful people of Brownhills come in with their limitless knowledge. It has been suggested that Taylors Cafe was just off shot to the left of the photograph, whilst others have stated that Taylors was further along the Pelsall Road. Does anybody remember Taylors and do they know its exact location in relation to the Pelsall Road today.

Central Brownhills from the 1947 series 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey draft. Click for a larger version.

We have firmly established that the photo was taken from the bridge which led to the fields now occupied by the Watermead estate and that the single storey building was Kingdom Hall. I have attached an excerpt of the 1937-1961 OS map which clearly shows this bridge and would put it more or less opposite to the junction of Wallace Road and Pelsall Road where the new houses which are slightly set back from the road are.

The photograph also gives us a good view of the A452/A4124/B4155 junction before the construction of the tin man roundabout in the mid 1980’s.

This cropped section of the Lichfield District Council 1981 Aerial imagery shows Taylors Cafe (ringed) and the bridge that the photo was probably taken from, or near to.

If anybody has any further information that they would like to add or can help pin point the location of Taylors Cafe then I would love to hear from you. I will shortly be approaching my third anniversary of being a Brownhillian and I still cease to be amazed at the number of photos that emerge of the town in days gone by.

Best Wishes
Simon Swain

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3 Responses to One of the final few

  1. aerreg says:

    correct me if ime wrong but i recall taylors cafe was just past wallace road on the left hand side going toward pelsall also wasnt there a railway bridge near by i also have in my mind there were some buildings there and MRS BROWNS shop i went to central school with bill sorry if iime wrong

    clarice and lilian were my wifes cousans also the swan pub is going through the grey matter i dont know why perhaps its my age ha ha god bless

  2. Andy Barnard says:

    This was indeed taken from the bridge mentioned. As a child I spent many days playing in that area. The old town council building (now Brownhills surgery) can be seen in the distance and then as you come towards where the photo was taken the industrial looking building was an old timber yard also selling a lot of recycled materials such as roof beams, floor boards (I can remember buying wood with my dad). Further back and it was Kingdom hall and next to it was a small overgrown meadow full of Apple trees which was directly behind the Walsall direction bus stop. You then had some very overgrown land directly opposite Wallace rd before the car park for Taylor’s cafe which also served as the entrance to the bridge for the farmers field which ran down to the camel bank. To the right of the field was another raised embankment and a disused railway bridge crossing the main railway which also would have crossed the pelsal rd and ran past the clay pits, coppice lane, the A5 at Brownhills West towards Norton Canes.
    Hope this helps

    Andy Barnard

  3. Pat Coton says:

    If my memory serves me right, that bridge was at the rear of Smith’s farm for his tractors to get to the fields on other side of railway. I went to school with the daughter Ann Smith. Lovely family.

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