Tag Archives: Harborne

128 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces, From Chasewater News April 1990 More Sid Browne Memories – Pete Aldridge

128 – Chasewater Railway Museum Bits & Pieces

From Chasewater News April 1990

More Sid Browne Memories – Pete Aldridge

Sid Browne worked on the railways for nearly fifty years and had many anecdotes recalling his long experience.  Here is another tale, as remembered by his grandson.

After working at Brownhills for some time, Sid was promoted and transferred toMonument Lane in Birmingham.  This presented quite a problem, as Sid still lived in Brownhills.  Sid had to travel by push bile toNew Streeteach morning, and back again at night.

One winter’s morning, with the roads covered in snow and a force eight gale blowing, Sid set off for work.  Unfortunately, he arrived just four minutes late.  He hurried down onto the platform to catch the train toMonument Lane, confident that the Inspector would have held the train long enough for Sid to catch it.

The platform, however, was empty except for the Inspector, Mr. Smith.

“You’re late!” he shouted “And you’ve just lost a day’s pay”

Very angry, Sid returned home.

The following spring, Sid was guard on an evening train from Coventry to New Street.  The train arrived at Stechford, and there, on the platform was Inspector Smith.  As the train was the last one of the day, Smith wanted to catch a lift back toMonument Lane, where he could ‘book off’ for the night.  Smith climbed into the brake end of the train.

“And where do you think you’re going?” asked Sid.

“Back toMonument Lane” replied Mr. Smith.

“Not on this train you’re not”

“But it’s the last train”

“That’s right, but some of us have got long memories, now get off!”

“Right!” said Mr. Smith “I’ll go and ride on the engine with the driver!”

“Oh no you won’t” said the fireman, who had come back down the train to see what the delay was.  “If you even touch that engine I’ll unhook it and go ‘light engine’ toMonument Lane.”

Absolutely furious, Inspector Smith was left standing on the station with a long walk ahead of him.

Photo – An old Midland Railway Class ‘2F’ 0-6-0 nears the end of the line on the three mile long branch from Monument Lane to Harborne, Birmingham, in July, 1961. –Birmingham Post

There are two morals to this tale:

  1. It pays to have friends in high places.
  2. Don’t get mad, get even.

Working atMonument Lane did have its benefits.  In particular, excursions could prove very lucrative, as being invariably overcrowded, children had to sit on parent’s laps all the way.  Sid made sure that the doors on one coach were locked as it arrived atNew Street.  Once the rest of the train was full, Sid auctioned off the remaining seats to the highest bidder, earning more than a week’s pay.

Moral:  A fool and his money are soon parted.

Crime does not pay, unless you avoid being caught!

Some Early Lines – The Harborne Branch

The Harborne Branch

An old Midland Railway Class 2F 0-6-0 nears the end of the line on the 3 mile long branch from Monument Lane to Harborne, Birmingham, in July 1961.  Birmingham Post


The line was independently owned, but was operated from the start by the LNWR, who took 50% of the gross receipts from both passenger and freight traffic. It was a single line throughout, worked by the “one engine in steam” system, with six trains each way on weekdays. “Staff and ticket” working began in 1882, superseded by “electric token” working in 1892. With the continuing growth in traffic, a passing loop was installed at Rotton Park Road in 1903.

The line was an early example of a commuter route, and highly successful at first, though there were problems recovering the investment. The receiver was called in 1879 and the line remained under his control for another 21 years.

Nevertheless, at its peak in 1914 there were 27 return passenger workings a day, running from 5:35AM until 11:15PM. The journey time from Birmingham New Street to Harborne was about 16 minutes. The trains were usually hauled by Webb 2-4-2T and 0-6-2T coal tanks.


In 1923, the Harborne Railway, together with its operators the LNWR, became part of the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS) at the grouping. The line began to suffer competition with buses, and as trains were frequently delayed due to congestion of routes into Birmingham New Street, passenger numbers fell. Icknield Port Road station closed in 1931, and the other stations closed to passengers on 26 November 1934. The last passenger train to run on the line was an enthusiasts’ special on 3 June 1950.

The early thirties saw the beginning of strict economies, particularly on the LMS, when stations and branches began to be shut down in what some termed a policy of ‘retrenchment and despair’.  One such branch was a suburban one of three miles in length, leaving the ex LNWR main line from Birmingham to Wolverhampton just north of Monument Lane and terminating at Harborne.  During most of its life, which ended in November, 1934, it was worked by LNWR engines ranging from ’Jumbos’ to the small 2-4-2 tanks.  In June, 1950, the Stephenson Locomotive Society sponsored a special train over the branch behind radial tank No. 46757 of Walsall shed, then one of the very few survivors of the class.  As far as is known this was the first occasion that a push-and-pull train ran to Harborne.  Birmingham Post

The line remained opened to freight, however, reverting to “one engine in steam” and serving businesses in Harborne, and Mitchells & Butlers Cape Hill brewery. This traffic also succumbed eventually to road transport, and the line closed completely on 4 November 1963, when the line was completely closed and lifted. Part of the route has been converted into a footpath, the Harborne Walkway.No longer in use

This bridge pier used to carry the LMS railway branch line to Harborne. As far as I know the line was closed in the Beeching era, but I remember it well before that and cannot ever remember the line in use. Most of the old railway line is now a linear park. The houses in the upper right hand corner are in Northbrook Street.    Pic – Row17