Local rail buff Simon Swain has once again been busy with the camera and maps, tracing out the history of the South Staffordshire railway line that used to run from Wychnor near Alrewas to Dudley, but called at Lichfield, Brownhills and Walsall on the way.
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.
The South Staffordshire Line is the focus of much nostalgia, and many (including me) would like to see it reinstated, but in these times of austerity I think it’ll be a good while before that’s a realistic prospect. In the mean time, others like Brian Stringer and the wonderful Back the Track group of activists are trying to get the old line cleared up and opened for cycling and walking, and their work is well worthy of reader’s support – more on that later this week.
In this article, Simon explores where the lost line came into Walsall – Ryecroft Junction, site of the sheds once so beloved of the late, great Jack Haddock, and of a remarkably complex set of junctions, sidings and bridges.
Thanks to Simon for a great contribution and fascinating exploration – so what do you know? Comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.
I decided to go out for a stroll this afternoon seeing as we had 2 dry days in a row and thought I would head for the environs of Ryecroft Junction. It’s a location that I’ve explored many times over the years and one that never ceases to reveal something new to me. The difference on this occasion was that I had actually consulted the NLS (National Library of Scotland) maps before departing Brownhills so I could familiarise myself with the locations of the railway lines which once dominated the area.
I took a whole set of images and attach here half a dozen of especial interest. I will be in the area alot over the coming weeks and months as I track the progress of the Chase line electrification.
In other news I managed to locate the zip file of the 2 chain plans for the Aldridge to Brownhills branch. The bad news here is that I was unable to access the content. I have dashed an e-mail off to the Midland Railway Society kindly asking if one of their volunteers could scan and send them to me. If not then I will arrange a visit to Derby and do this myself.
In other exciting news, the world of social media never ceases to amaze me. I have a friend on Facebook who has access to the official Midland Railway record books which are all handwritten and document the number of passengers booked, the passenger receipts, goods receipts and staff outlays. He has kindly scanned and sent excerpts for some Derbyshire stations that were of interest to me. I have asked whether I could ask a massive favour and see whether he can locate the Staffordshire records and if available send me excerpts for Walsall Wood and Brownhills stations. Watch this space as if they are available they should prove to be extremely interesting reading. We are always reading that Brownhills Midland was never a particular success and for most of its life had just 3 trains a day in each direction. It will be interesting to see just how much money was taken and/or lost… but that’s another story for the blog.
In the meantime I hope that the attached of of interest and I insert the captions for the photos below.
We are standing on the road bridge which takes North Street over the railway. To the immediate left the joint MR/LNWR line from Wolverhampton would have trailed in. Next to the left we have the Cannock branch. The mass of trees between the Cannock and Water Orton line to the right was where the South Staffs line to Brownhills and Lichfield was.