The crossing

Back in the end of November (what seems like an age away now) Dave Dunkley, a talented local artist and Rushall lad sent me a picture he’d painted from memory of the Rushall Station he remembered from his youth.

Rushall station closed to passengers in 1909, but the buildings remained up until  the middle of the last century, at least.

The painting generated lots of warm memories and debate – and what I hoped might happen, has – top local rail historian Ian Pell has sent me a fascinating, illustrated response.

Local historian and author Clive Roberts emailed me this lovely scan of a photo he acquired from the moving sale for Walsall Local History Centre. We think it might be by Jack Haddock, and shows Rushall Station House roof, the house itself obscured by a bus waiting at the crossing. Image courtesy Clive Roberts.

It turned out that many remembered the level crossing with fondness – it was of course on the South Staffordshire Line that used to bisect Brownhills, mostly closed in 1984 – and a few remembered the old station itself.

Local historian Clive Roberts found the above photo in his collection he bought from the Local History Centre when it closed to move. It shows a steam loco passing the station with a Walsall Corporation bus sadly obscuring the building. We suspect this is a Jack Haddock picture.

Rushall Station in the 1950s, painted from memory by Dave Dunkley. Click for a full size version.

It turns out there don’t seem to be any good pictures of the station that have come to light yet, but Ian Pell assembled the evidence in his usual precise and fascinating manner. Once again I’d like to thank Ian for a lovely contribution and apologies for losing his original email otherwise this article would have been up sooner!

It’s a joy to feature work of this quality here, as it is to feature Dave’s painting, too – I love communal, collaborative local history like this.

So, what can you add? Comment here is welcome, you can mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com or pull me to one side on social media.

Ian Pell wrote:

Hi Bob,

Thoughts regarding Rushall station and crossing.

I love these drawings from people’s memories, a gentleman, Mr. Frank Allen, did several sketches and drawings of a similar nature for the Cannock line. The station building as is indicated in the 1958 photo certainly stayed the course of time, even if not used by the railway.  The platforms didn’t fair so well.  Readers may recall it was a steep drop from the back of the box to the adjacent field where cows often roamed.

There are a couple of technical notes to add – for the rivet counters – one is that the wicket gates were on the box side of the road and the other is that the window pattern on the front of the box was 2-3-2. But ,what a great effort from memory.  I only wish mine was as good.  I’m always confusing the down line with the up line!

Extract from 1912 LNW 2-chain map of the South Staffs line. Image courtesy Ian Pell.

This plan is taken from the 1912 LNW 2-chain map of the South Staffs line.  It shows the station after closure (1-3-1909) and gives an indication of a typical South Staffs station and station master’s house.  This is further borne out by the 1958’s photo below which was taken from one of those new fangled diesel multiple units.

1958 from a DMU heading north. Platelayers hut to the left, box with station building behind. Image courtesy Ian Pell.

Well Tim Spiers, it’s the best stab I have at a photo of the station house.  It was still being called this in 1958.

The station opened on 24-3-1856 along with another at Ryder’s Hays.  It closed as a direct result of tram competition and was the first station in the West Midlands to close in the 20th century.

The crossing signal cabin replaced a previous one, located slightly further to the south of  Harden Road,  in October 1899, consisting of 10 levers and a crossing wheel.  The crossing and wicket gates were replace on 9th December 1979 by lifting barriers.

Tinsley (Sheffield) to Eastleigh bound evening freight , 6 June 1975 – station site to the right. Image originally by John Whitehouse kindly supplied by Ian Pell.

In the 1960s an extensive transport depot was built to the north of the station site and at some time the station house was demolished, leaving a wedge of land which the engineer’s used.  The signal on the up line was eventually replaced with the colour light signal shown below.

Since then the transport depot by the crossing has been replaced by housing. The building had something to do with exports and imports from Ireland with some sort of bonded warehouse facility.

Kind regards

Former station site looking north, taken in the last week of the line being open for traffic, March 1984. Image courtesy Ian Pell.


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3 Responses to The crossing

  1. Dave Dunkley says:

    It is with great interest the photos and correspondents of Rushall Station. I have however got the gables incorrect minus the chimneys on my painting. I suppose I wasn’t looking up when the trains were rushing by. Dave Dunkley

  2. Stephen Lloyd says:

    I used to live in the station house opposite signal box with my mom and dad until 1964 would love to see any pics anyone may have
    Steve Lloyd

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