The South Staffordshire Line

Past / Present / Future
southstaffsrail@hotmail.co.uk

 When it all began

On October 6th 1846  it was agreed that the South Staffordhire Railway Company would construct a railway line betreen Walsall and Lichfield Tent Valley with extensions netween Walsall and Bescot (to allow through running to Birmingham, Lichfield Trent Valley and Wychnor Junction (to connect with the Midland Railway).

A one and a quarter mile section from Bescot Junction to Walsall had been marked out. It was opened in 1847 for passenger traffic only, using a terminus in Bridgeman place. The development enabled journeys from Walsall to be made tp Curzon Street in Birmingham.

On the 9th April 1849 the South Staffordshire line was opened to Wychnor Junction, linking  the local villages of Rushall, Pelsall, Brownhills, Hammerwich, Lichfield City and Alrewas.

Considerable preparation was necessary prior to the official opening of the line. The Midland Railway rule books were adapeted for employees, clothing issued, posters and timetables printed and fares agreed upon. Trial runs were also necessary, to test the line.

A prominent engineer of the time, John Robison McClean was appointed as the engineer in charge of constructing the railway, and he was to be paid the sum of £350 for each completed mile of track. March1st 1849 saw the Railway Insectorate to the Board of Trade giving authority for the new railway to be used.

The official opening of the line took place on the 9th April 1849, when the chairman of the line, Mr. C.S Forester, banker from Walsall together with other directors and civic dignitaries travelled on a special train, running from Walsall to a celebration dinner and ball at the Guildhall in Lichfield.

An inital shortage of carriages seemed a problem and was highlighted when there was increased demand for transport to Lichfield for the Bower Festival. 

 

The main pedestrian access to the station from the village of Hammerwich was via a public footpath (known locally as Station Fields) from church lane. Other access (horse & cart) to the staion and goods yard was via Station Road.

At the start only two passenger services wer provided daily, except on Tusedays when there was an extra train, as this was market day in Walsall (and still is). These services were increased at a later date, including a sunday morning and evening service to Lichfield (known as the Cathedral Express). As time went by, regular time-tables were introduced, some with through trains to Birmingham and Wolvohampton via Walsall, and Burton and Derby via Lichfield. Extra services were provided on Bank Holidays (especially to Lichfield for the Greenhill Bower celebrations)

 

 Freight

A daily goods train service called in at Hammerwich, where a siding was available for receiving and dispatching this type of traffic. This would be used by local farmers who would bring their daily production of milk (in churns) to be transported to the bigger dairies for the various products to be made.

The photo above shows the Hammerwich Signal Box and Siding at the station, looking towards Lichfield. 

To see a railway plan of the siding and station <Click Here>

Coal

Local coal merchants would receive coal from collieres; they would bag it and deliver locally. Saint Mathew's Hospital in Burntwood collected their supply with a steam driven lorry. Local farmers would also use Hammerwich Station for collecting or sending cereals, sugar beet, seeds and machinery.

Another freight siding was provided at Angelsea sidings for the exchange of coal trffic from te Cannock Chase coalfields via South Staffordshire Railways.

The line soon became part of the London and North western Railway, this in turn being taken over by the Great Western Railway. The line was closed to passengers in 1965 and the line lifted between Ryecroft and Brownhills in 1984 after the the Dudley Freightliner Terminal was closed. This part of the track bed was leased to the 'Sustainable Transport Charity' for use as part of the  National Cycle Route.

Lichfield - Walsall Rail Plan

The line from Lichfield to the Angelsea sidings, where Charrringtons Oil Depot was for many years is still in situ, although regularly vandalised. The Charringtons Oil Depot has recently been taken over by Quattro rail division. This company is a supplier to Network Rail of on track plant, and rail maintenance.

 

 Cheif Engineer of the South Staffs Railway was Mr John Robinson McClean 1813 - 1873

 <Click Here>

 

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