Tag Archives: Dudley

198 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces From Chasewater News – Winter 1996 – Part 3

198 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News – Winter 1996 – Part 3

 Blast from the Past

Chris Chivers

For the winter edition of the Chasewater News I have included this article and map, gleaned by our Chairman David Bathurst, from the ’Railway Magazine’ of November/December 1944 as there is a reference to the closure of our line to passenger traffic in the 1930s and for the general interest in the way the area’s network of services has been steadily eroded over the years.

Forgotten Train Services in the Birmingham District


In looking through old timetables, one is often struck by the many old services which have been withdrawn and forgotten in the region of Birmingham and the Black Country.  By reason of lack of patronage, often because of road competition, these services became redundant and fell out of use, but some of them are of considerable interest.

Close up of image ‘lnwra1494’ showing the junction between the New Street and Stechford lines and the approach to Aston station. The buffer stop is the end of the blind siding that was designed to protect the main lines from runaway wagons on the Windsor Street down line – D.J.Norton

In the immediate vicinity of Birmingham the ‘Circle Service’ obviously comes first.  This was operated by the LNWR, leaving New Street Station from the east end, and running via Aston, the south side of the triangle at Perry Barr, and Monument Lane, thus arriving back at the opposite end of the station.  A similar service was worked in the other direction, and the journey time of about 30 to 40 minutes applied in each direction.  In May 1899, the service was seven west to east and five east to west trains on weekdays only, but in 1929 this was reduced to one train running Saturdays excepted, through from west to east, two in the reverse direction, and several trains from Birmingham to Vauxhall, via Perry Barr, also two trains from Stechford and Witton respectively, to Monument Lane, via Soho Road.  This service, which had become gradually more and more scanty, was finally discontinued on the outbreak of the Second World War.

Smethwick Junction  © Copyright Row17 and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 Secondly, comes the service provided by the LNWR from New Street to Smethwick Junction on the GWR Stourbridge line.  At one time, through portions were attached to trains from Euston, which were detached from the main train at Birmingham, and then forwarded to the GWR at Smethwick Junction, where they were coupled to GWR trains to Stourbridge and Kidderminster.  There was also a through coach to Wooferton on this route.  In 1899 the local service had six trains daily, on weekdays only, which left New Street at 8.48, 9.25, 11.30am, 12.30, 4.25, and 7.45pm and arriving back at 9.40, 11.30am, 12.46, 1.35, 5.10 and 9.05pm.  No indication is given in the tables, however, as to whether these were through portions or not.  The service had been reduced to three trains each way by 1913, and to two in July 1915; it was discontinued shortly afterwards.

Dudley Station, with the auto-train from Dudley Port  View NE, towards Wolverhampton (left) and Walsall (and Dudley Port) (right); ex-Great Western Worcester – Kidderminster – Stourbridge Jct. – Wolverhampton line; ex-London & North Western line to Walsall, Lichfield and Rugeley. The auto-train has LMS-type Ivatt 2MT 2-6-2T No. 41226 and there is an ex-LNW 0-8-0 at work in the Goods Yard.

A third LNWR service long since disappeared is that over the line from Tipton to Wednesbury, via Ocker Hill.  This line had intermediate stations at Princes End and Ocker Hill, and its length is about 3½ miles.  The service in 1899 was five trains daily, on weekdays only, calling at all stations, and running between Dudley Port and Wednesbury.  These left Dudley Port at 8.33, 1022am, 12.20, 3.26 and 6.50pm, and Wednesbury at 7.53, 1052am, 12.55, 4.00 and6.45pm; the journey time between the two places was 11 minutes.  This was still working in a modified form in 1913, but it was discontinued during World War 1, and passengers from Dudley Port to Wednesbury now use the Great Bridge route.  Another branch now closed is the Harbourne line, in Birmingham, about 4 miles long, closed on November 26th, 1934.

Class 2MT no.46429. Harbourne station. 2 November 1963

This was the very last passenger working on the branch. Regular scheduled passenger services had ceased in 1934! The line was closed completely a few days later and lifted. ricsrailpics

Canal News – Waterscape.com

Canal News



Sale of craft to societies and Trusts

14th Mar 2012

British Waterways is planning to offer a number of ex-working boats for sale to waterway societies, partnerships and Trusts.

This follows a review of BW floating plant requirements, which identified a number of vessels which are no longer needed by their waterway or department. BW are currently considering if any of the craft can be used elsewhere in the organisation, or by our national contractors.

Once this has been determined, and before a public auction takes place, BW would like to offer the remaining vessels for sale to waterway societies, partnerships or Trusts.

Interested parties can view the full list of craft here and more information can be obtained by emailing mick.carrington@britishwaterways.co.uk

An expression of interest for any items needs to be made by email to Michael Carrington by 5pm on Wednesday 4th April. All expressions of interest will be treated on a first come first served basis.

Once an expression of interest has been agreed (subject to availability and acceptance), the item will be removed from the auction and the process of selling them to the purchaser will begin.

Any organisation purchasing craft will need to take over ownership of the vessel and should note that some of the craft are regarded as ‘life expired’ by BW for routine waterway maintenance works. Consequently, maintenance of these craft can run into several thousands of pounds each year.

BW will provide the information we have, but purchasers should also make their own enquiries.

Terms and conditions of sale

Any group expressing an interest must ensure they can comply with the following terms and conditions of sale;

• All craft are sold as seen with no guarantee.

• Craft may/will require works to bring them up to current Merchant Shipping regulations. The new owner will be responsible for its upkeep and compliance.

• The craft will require registering and licensing, at the new owners’ expense.

• The owner will be required to provide British Waterways with evidence of registered moorings for the craft.

• The craft must have all British Waterways identification marking removed. Re-painted in none BW corporate colours, and have all existing identification markers replaced with new ones, following completion of sale.

• All craft to be removed from British Waterways sites within 14 days, unless by written agreement.

IWA walk on the Trent & Mersey Canal

22 March 2012

Tunnel Top,  Northwich Road,  Dutton,  Runcorn,  Cheshire,  WA4 4JY

Related Waterways

Trent & Mersey Canal

Join the Inland Waterways Association for a walk along the Trent & Mersey Canal from Dutton.

The walk takes you over the top of Preston Brook Tunnel, along the canal towpath, through Longacre Wood and back via footpaths, bridle paths and lanes. The distance is about 3 miles.


Meet at Preston Brook Tunnel Top. Members and non-members welcome.Trent & Mersey Canal

This cross-country canal through the North Midlands offers excellent views over the Cheshire Plain and impressive engineering feats – including Harecastle Tunnel, the first of its kind.

The Trent & Mersey Canal was the most ambitious part of canal pioneer James Brindley’s plan to connect the principal rivers of England. Its importance was recognised by its early name of the ‘Grand Trunk’ Canal.

The canal was promoted by pottery producers such as Josiah Wedgwood, eager to abandon the rutted roads of the area for this new, smooth form of transport. Consequently, it runs through the heart of the Potteries, but also offers rural cruising through Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire.

The canal has also achieved fame through the Inspector Morse story, The Wench is Dead, reputedly based on the true story of a murder committed by 19th century boatmen working out of Preston Brook.

Big spawn count and crayfish survey

26 March 2012

Fens Pool Nature Reserve,  off Pensnett Road,  Dudley,  West Midlands,  DY5 4NE

Related Waterways

Stourbridge Canal

Volunteers needed to help with the annual survey of frogs and toads at Fens Pools, near the Stourbridge Canal. The day will also involve checking for invasive narrow-clawed crayfish.

Evening. To book and get details of meeting times, contact paul.wilkinson@britishwaterways.co.uk.Stourbridge Canal

Although short, the five-mile Stourbridge Canal from Stourton Junction to the Dudley No. 1 Canal provides an essential line of access to the Birmingham Canal Navigations and offers a fascinating journey through the area’s glassmaking heritage.

Scenery varies from rural to industrial, though much of the latter is now gone. A short canal arm links the waterway with Stourbridge Town Centre. A glass-making cone, one of only a handful left in the world, lies alongside the flight of 16 locks leading to Brierley Hill.

Canal News from Waterscape

Canal News from



Why is canal tunnel on the move?

Netherton Tunnel

The last tunnel built at a cost of over £300,000 it opened on the 20th of August 1858. It was built with two tow paths and wide enough for two boats. Thus is eased congestion in the narrow Dudley tunnel that had to be legged through. Its over 2.5km long, straight and now unlit. Take a torch!

  © Copyright Ashley Dace and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

29th Nov 2011

Engineers from British Waterways are investigating after some sections of the Netherton Tunnel near Dudley were found to be moving.

The tunnel, on the Birmingham Canal Navigations, is 150 years old. Monitoring over the past few years has shown that the lining of the centre sections is moving, causing some of the bricks to bulge and crack.

Over the next two weeks, tunnel experts will be carrying out detailed ground investigations to find the cause of the movement. They will take samples of the earth and rock surrounding the canal tunnel by drilling bore holes at various intervals along the crown (roof) and the side wall sections. These samples will allow specialists to test what material surrounds the tunnel. This, together with other detailed surveys, will help them determine the nature of the movement and the possible cause.

Expert investigation

British Waterways’ senior manager Dean Davies said: “The Netherton Tunnel is well known to suffer from ground movement, and we do monitor this on weekly basis. We are currently concerned about the amount of movement happening in the centre section of the tunnel, which is a common weak spot in tunnel design. We need to carry out further investigations to find out exactly what may be causing the ground above and below the tunnel to move.

“The tunnel is still structurally sound. However, we need to start looking into this problem now and also decide how best to stop the movement getting any worse. Ultimately, we want to ensure the tunnel lasts another 150 years”

During the works, the canal will restricted to boat traffic at various intervals and the west side towpath will remain closed. For details of restrictions, check the waterscape stoppage pages or sign up for email alerts.

Netherton Tunnel and Tividale Aqueduct

Coming out of the northern end of Netherton Tunnel, Dudley, looking towards Tividale Aqueduct, which carries the Wolverhampton Canal Level over the Netherton Tunnel Branch.

  © Copyright Martin Clark and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 Lock Keeper of the Year


British Waterways’ employee is top of the locks

Saltersford Locks on the River Weaver

The River Weaver here divides as the original course of the river crosses the canalised Barnton Cut, more or less at the locks. The Trent & Mersey canal runs close and parallel near the top of the wooded bank in the background. Public footpaths run between the river and the canal towpath and along the river bank upstream to the Winnington swing bridge and (the North Cheshire Way) Dutton Locks downstream.

  © Copyright Mike Harris and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

1st Dec 2011

The Hotel Boat section of the Association of Pleasure Craft Operators (APCO) has awarded Bryn Jones, a British Waterways’ lock keeper on the River Weaver with its annual Lock Keeper of the Year award.

Bryn has worked for British Waterways for almost 30 years and has over 20 years’ experience as a lock keeper. He is familiar with the whole of the River Weaver navigation, working as relief lock and bridge keeper before taking responsibility for Saltersford Locks.

Recipients are nominated and voted for by all APCO Hotel Boat operators so that they can recognise the support and assistance they receive as they take holidaymakers around Britain’s inland waterways. The award was presented at the Association’s recent national AGM, held this year in Llangollen at a hotel beside the River Dee.

Neil Thomsett and Gill Cookson, joint chairs of the Hotel Boat section of APCO, presented the award to Bryn, who was joined by British Waterways North Wales & Borders colleagues Wendy Capelle and Stephen Maguire.

Fantastic ambassador for the River Weaver

The River Weaver near Anderton, Cheshire

The deciduous woodland is part of the Anderton Nature Park east of the famous boat lift. The narrowboats will use the lift to join the Trent and Mersey Canal fifty feet higher in level.

The River Weaver is navigable in its lower reaches, and flows in a curving route anti-clockwise across west Cheshire and into the Manchester Ship Canal. Before that canal was built the river flowed into the River Mersey at Weston Marsh.

  © Copyright Roger Kidd and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Neil thanked Bryn for all his hard work, great humour and invaluable information, saying: “The Weaver navigation is such a lovely river – beautiful Cheshire countryside, fascinating industry and the drama of descending the Anderton Boat Lift and entering the vastness of Saltersford Lock. Bryn is always on hand to answer holidaymakers’ questions and help hotel boat crews as he works us through.

“Saltersford is a big deep lock and our safety is paramount for Bryn, whilst he imparts amazing statistics and history to our clients marvelling at the 1.4 million gallons of water the lock holds. Meanwhile he is a fantastic ambassador for the area around the Weaver, showering holidaymakers with tourism information and guiding us to local amenities. Plus anything he doesn’t already know he will find out and pass on as we return up river.”

Bryn was delighted to receive the award and adds: “I am honoured to win the award on behalf of the Weaver team, it is a first for the river and it is wonderful to hear how the experience of boating the River Weaver and the service that British Waterways gives is so appreciated by the hotel boat holidaymakers and crews.”


Chairs appointed for Canal & River Trust Waterway Partnerships29th Nov 2011

The Canal & River Trust has appointed chairs to a number of the Waterway Partnerships that will play a role in the management of canals and rivers across the network.

Chairs have been appointed in Manchester & Pennine, North Wales & Borders, South Wales & Severn and Kennet & Avon. The chairs for the Partnerships in the West Midlands and North West, who have, to date, been trials, have been asked to and have agreed to continue.

A chair has also been recruited for the Museums Partnership, which will be the successor to The Waterways Trust Museums Management Board.

Supporting local waterways

Tony Hales, chair of The Canal & River Trust said: “I am delighted that such a high calibre of people have come forward to chair these important positions of governance within the Canal & River Trust.

“Each will prove to be well placed to champion the interests of their local waterways. The Waterways Partnerships are integral to the stewardship and development of the network, providing new perspectives and insights, opening up new resources and ideas, and giving local people a greater opportunity to support their local canals and rivers: something that is integral to the success of the Canal & River Trust.”

Chairs are now being sought for the remaining Waterway Partnerships in the North East, Central Shires, East Midlands, South East and London and recruitment for the All Wales Partnership is continuing.

Calling on volunteers

The Canal & River Trust is also calling on volunteers who want to actively support the two-century old canal network to join their local Partnership and get involved and advise on how the waterways are used and looked after. Each Partnership will consist of at least eight volunteers who will be drawn from the local community and who will collectively have a broad spectrum of expertise relevant to the development of the waterways.

Experience in fundraising, volunteering, finance, planning and regeneration, boating, environment, heritage, engineering, community engagement, and working with partners in local government are all relevant.

All positions on the Partnerships will be unpaid, but agreed expenses will be reimbursed.

Those interested in joining a newly appointed chair on their local Waterway Partnership or in applying for one of the remaining positions of chair will be able to find role descriptions and application details at www.waterscape.com/trust from Thursday 1 December.

Applications for membership open on Friday 9 December 2011.

Netherton Tunnel Closure – Waterscape

Waterscape.com              Netherton Tunnel, South Portal – Martin Cordon

 Netherton Tunnel

Monday 28 November 2011 – Friday 9 December 2011
Closure of the tunnel and both towpaths is required on the following dates and times: 28th November to 9th December 2011, 09:00 to 12:30 and 13:30 to 17:00, Monday to Friday only.

As such, the tunnel will be open for navigation before 9am, after 5pm and for 1 hour during the day (12:30 – 13:30). The tunnel will be entirely reopened across the weekend of 3rd and 4th December.

The stoppage is required to undertake intrusive, noisy investigation works, which are likely to create dust and cause disruption, all as part of survey work looking in to the condition of the tunnel which will aid the design of future repair works.
Signage will be in place at both tunnel portals to warn of the works being undertaken.
British Waterways apologises for any inconvenience caused.

Enquiries: 01827 252000

Some South Staffordshire Railway Byways – The Ocker Hill, Princes End branch

Some South Staffordshire Railway Byways – The Ocker Hill, Princes End branch, LNWR

From ‘Railways’ Magazine – May 1951

Industrial development in the Black Country no doubt accounted for the opening of this branch (2 miles 68 chains long) from Wednesbury, on the Dudley – Walsall line to Bloomfield Junction which is 44 chains north of Tipton Station on the Stour Valley line (so-called), Birmingham – Dudley Port – Wolverhampton, on 1st September, 1863 (to passenger traffic on 14th September, 1863).  The line is double throughout and stations were opened at Ocker Hill, 71 chains from Wednesbury Station and at Princes End, 79 chains from Ocker Hill Station and one mile from Bloomfield Junc.Ocker Hill station LMS, ex LNWR.  Closed to passengers 1916.  Photograph shows Class  ‘5’ No. 45065 on 11.55 pm Birmingham – Blackpool train diverted from Birmingham – Stafford line.  Photo W.A.Camwell

The service on the branch was provided by trains travelling from Walsall – Wolverhampton via Wednesbury, about 7 each way weekdays until 1881, but the route lost importance when the Pleck and Portobello curves were opened on March 1st, 1881, enabling Walsall – Wolverhampton trains to travel directly along the Grand Junction line through James Bridge (now Darlaston) and Willenhall.  By 1887 the service was three trains each way weekdays only.

The South Staffordshire & Birmingham Steam Tramway Co. Ltd. commenced operating steam trams from Wednesbury through Ocker Hill and Princes End to Dudley on 21st January, 1884, and no doubt this fact accounted for the LNWR Board of Directors giving consideration from 1885 onwards to the withdrawal of the passenger service on the branch.  In September, 1890 the passenger receipts on the branch amounted to £44 and thus the passenger service was withdrawn from 1st November, 1890.

In 1893 the local authorities considered that industrial development in the district warranted the re-opening of passenger traffic and they approaches the LNWR Board of Directors who, in November, 1894, agreed to restore the service as from 1st July, 1895.  However, the service now ran between Wednesbury and Tipton, five trains each way on weekdays, and Princes End station was not re-opened till the end of July, 1895.  As a war-time measure the passenger traffic was withdrawn as from 1st January, 1916, and was never re-instated.  It is worth mentioning that the steam tram route, Wednesbury – Ocker Hill – Princes End – Dudley, was electrified as from 22nd January, 1907, by the South Staffordshire Tramways (Lessee) Co.Ltd.

The station platforms at both Ocker Hill and Princes End still existed and on one or two occasions main line trains were diverted over the branch owing to permanent way repairs.

Pensnett Railway Items

The picture above shows three of the items in the museum connected to the Pensnett Railway.

Pensnett Railway Pay Check No.163 (1903)

Paycheck from the railway which once served the coal and iron industry, notably Round Oak Steel Works, Brierley Hill.  Known also as the Earl of Dudley railway as most of the eventual 40 miles of track was situated in the Dudley Estate, and at one time linked Old Hill, Cradley, Dudley, Himley, Wall Heath, Dawley Brook and Ashwood.  By the 1960s the only portions in use were the line to Baggeridge Colliery and the tracks around Round Oak Steel Works linking scrap bays, ancillary factories and works stores.

Built entirely for the movement of coal, etc. the only times a passenger service operated was on odd occasions when the Earl of Dudley took invited guests on a ‘jolly’ and on the few days per year of the annual Himley Fete and this only during the period 1928 to 1937.

Destination ticket for an empty coal wagon.

Card with instructions for repairs to coal wagon.