Local rail buff Simon Swain last week sent in the above image of one of the last freight workings on the South Staffordshire Line through central Brownhills – and there was a large amount of interest in this remarkably evocative photo.
As I’ve come to expect, rail expert and contributor of a huge amount of material to the blog Ian Pell was reading, and as usual, he’s come forward with a wealth of information about the final freight usage of our doomed railway line, which I include below.
Huge thanks to Ian and Simon for fleshing out yet another piece of lost rail history here on the Brownhills Blog – if anyone else has anything to add, please feel free to comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.
Working Timetable 1983-84 combined PP04, ft04, TN 16.05.83 16 May 1983 – 19 March 1984 – (13 May 1984)
Norton Junction (Closure Ryecroft Jc – Anglesea Sdgs 19.03.1984)
Only through lines open until line closed as a through route 19th March 1984. Ryecroft Jc to Anglesea Sdgs section completely closed from 19th March 1984
Only Trip No. 44 works through to Lichfield Rom River, SX, as required, until line closed.
Rom River then served via Lichfield TV HL and Alrewas section. Charrington’s remained open for oil, served via Lichfield City and Alrewas.
Toton “Up” Yard closed as a hump yard in 1984, the “Down” Yard hump having closed in 1978.
The “Jane’s Railway Year, 4th edition”,1984 page 73 shows 47211 at Brownhills heading south on 9/3/84. The train is reported to be a “Scunthorpe to Severn Tunnel Junction” Speedlink working. From the WTTs the train is more likely to be 6M91 11.15 Scunthorpe to Bescot Storage Sidings, ABS which was a Speedlink working which was able to connect with the regular 6V80 21.00 Bescot to Severn Tunnel Junction Down Yard, ABS Speedlink working. From 3/10/83 the train ceased to call at Toton Old Bank sidings, instead using Toton West Yard. The remainder of its journey was un-affected. This train was used from Toton, in part, for residual MOD traffic to the Swansea area. (Remember the Nottingham to Swansea derailment at Brownhills). The Scunthorpe to Bescot working appears to have ceased by the time of the next WTT, May 1984, but 6V80 continued well into the late 1980’s. For example, it was working to East Usk Yard in 1988 after the closure of the yards at Severn Tunnel Junction (1985).
The last passenger working, excepting the CM&EE and Parcels workings, over the line was a northbound railtour – “The Vital Statistician” hauled by class “25”s 25035+25048 on 11/2/1984.
On 9/5/84 class “47” 47297 was photographed at Charrington’s shunting the ex. 6M65 05.55 Lindsay to Charrington’s loaded oil train.
Following on from David’s recent article “Lichfield line lament” (RE No. 254), and the attached tables, an air of caution should be added to the tables as these workings are derived from the Working Timetables (WTTs) of the time, and by this stage a considerable amount of the traffic either didn’t run when loadings were insufficient, or if they did, they were marked as “Z” workings, ie:- trains not working to their allocated paths. The “Z”s could also include additional “specials”. Usually, Speedlink workings (ABS) could be relied upon as they were part of a dedicated network of trunk services.
For a time after closure the line remained in-situ, with the hope that coal from the new Ryder’s Hayes opencast working would be taken out by rail; but this proved to be a vane hope and the tracks were removed in 1986.