Kingswinford & Wolverhampton Railway aka The Wombourne Line

THE RAILWAY REINSTATEMENT ASSOCIATION

Taken from the other side of Brettell Lane Bridge the former freight unloading bay wall can just be decerned amongst the undergrowth.

With the space either side of the track and foot access from both bridges this could be the site for a reinstated station

High Street road bridge from the northern most end of the former station platform in June 2016, now little more than and Ivy covered mound

The root of the problem. A well established tree can be seen here forcing its roots between the brick courses creating a considerable problem for reinstatement. Forcing a rebuild after clearence of vegitation

View under Leys Road bridge from just beyonf the gates seen in the picture left

POSSIBLE HALT

 

At a point roughly halfway between Bromley and Pensnett Halts a legitemate footpath crosses the rail alignment with housing either side. This could be a point to put in a new halt to serve the estates.

 

This would have the added bonus of making the distances between stops short enough to allow the totally polution free option of flywheel only powered trains or trams with the flywheel energy recharged at station halts.

Official council path crossing the alignment. By its very existance, encouraging people to use the alignment as a footpath

The remaining section of the line continued to serve the Perrier distribution centre on the Pensnett Idustrial Estate until 1994. The line is now heavily overgrown with vegetation and even mature trees, but most it is still in place as far as the Pensnett High Street road bridge, the sidings having been lifted during 2015. Research indicates that there may be plans to extend the Pensnett Trading Estate onto this land.

 

 

The through line remained open to goods trains until 24 June 1965, though the branch which served Baggeridge Colliery right, which survived until the closure of that facility on 2 March 1968.

WOLVERHAMPTON & KINGSWINFORD RAILWAY

 

A POTTED HISTORY

Also known as the Wombourne Branch and Pensnett Branch during its later truncated incarnations. The line branched from the Great Western Railway's Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton line at Kingswinford Junction to the north of Brettell Lane station and joined the same company's Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton line at the Oxley Junction on the north-western approach to Wolverhampton Low Level Station.

 

The line was constructed in the 1850's to serve the many quarrys, mines and ironworks in the area. It was not until 1925 that passenger trains started using the line. It is a fair guess that GWR believed that, as with other historic examples of new passenger railways, people would start to live near stations for convenience. On this occassion it would appear GWR miscalculated, services were discontinuing in 1932 after just seven years.

 

A number of halts and stations were built at locations on the line including Wombourne and Tettenhall. Unfortunately this attempt to increase revenue between the wars was short lived, probably 80 years ahead of its time as the places served were merely hamlets, whereas today they are large and still expanding communities.

TODAY

Beyond the sidings the old alignment has been severed by a new housing estate currently under construction.

 

Over the years there have been many recent suggestions that this final stub of the line will re-open to serve the Pensnett Trading Estate, which was developed during the 1980's. Indeed Ecorail Ltd are currently suggesting that it might form a rail link from Stourbridge Junction to the new Himley View development, and even onward to create a rapid transit link to Russells Hall Hospital.

Brettell Lane Station

Kingswinford Signal Box & Junction

Moor Street Sidings

Brockmoor Halt

Bromley Halt

Possible Leys Road Halt

Pensnett Halt

Pensnett Sidings

Gornal Halt

Baggeridge Junction

Himley Station

Wombourne Station

Penn Halt

Tettenhall Station

Possible Sports Centre Halt

Junction

 

Wolverhampton Low Level

Aerial photo of the southern end of what was the Kingswinford & Wolverhampton Railway, later known as the Wombourne line with key features on and near the line highlighted. Halts as white dots and features numbered 1 - 6.

1948 OS map shows the position of the station just south of the junction and marshaling yard

Historic picture of the original station buildings and layout taken from Brettell Lane bridge

Taken from slightly left of the above picture it can be seen that the former rail yard is now an industrial estate. The canal bridge can just be seen in the distance

What appears to be an original yard building. The windows would indicate an engine shed or warehouse as they do not afford the type of view expected off a signal box. Appearing to be empty today this could be opened as a cafe at the start/end of a Womborne Railway Walk also serving the Industrial Estate that has sprung up on the former station's site and the canal towpath to the rear

Modern OS style map clearly showing the massive urbanisation of the area around the station (1)

Site of the station today taken from a few yards to the right of the original picture left

On Brettell Lane bridge looking north, the bridge in the foreground is a footbridge from which vantage point can be seen the remanants of the Moor Lane sidings today and under which can be seen the crossover points for access to both the Wombourne branch and the goods yard

KINGSWINFORD JUNCTION & MOOR STREET SIDINGS

 

Today this sleepy backwater of the Rail Network is barely used, despite almost continual rumblings from Black Country Natives that this line from Stourbridge Junction to at least the Waterfront at Brierley Hill should be reopened. Currently it had only a few trains a week into the TATA Steel Stockholders at Brierley Hill, since the company put its entire UK holdings on the market it is unknown how much, if at all thhese trains have been affected.

 

Of note is that Network Rail must still hold out hopes that the Womborne Branch could be reopened to Pensnett as a freight line or they would have disposed of the asset. The 2013 track map publication showing the alignment still in NR hands and yard leased to DB Shenker, the rail freight moving company.

On foot bridge between station site and junction facing north in May 1986 looking down onto the junction with Wombourne branch dropping away between the signal box and busy goods yard beyond

Picture by David Rostance

On the foot bridge looking north, today, from this vantage point you can look down onto the remnants of the junction and goods yard. The fencing on the left is where the former sinnal box was and just beyond that is where the Wombourn line bore left

BROCKMOOR HALT

 

Only consisting of grass platforms with paved edges, the original southbound platform of which remains today, including the ramp up to the road bridge and gate in the wall. As does one of the two tracks although all is heavily overgrown.

 

Historic pictures on other web sites show the path of the removed line served as a footpath to locals, but bramble growth had made this impassable by Easter 2016, even before spring growth.

 

1948 OS map showing the Moor Lane yard and the Wombourne branch, (1) being the site of Brockmoor Halt, although even by now passenger services had ceased over 15 years previously and it had become largely single track and reverted to freight only

Historic picture showing a southbound freight train passing through the halt being hauled by Panier Tank loco No. 6723. The building seen up on the road is still extant today despite the whole area now being an area of housing and small industrial units

Taken from roughly the same point as the picture right but facing south towards the junctionis some evidence of a tiny piece of clearence of saplings.

Modern OS type map showing the site of the station today with the increased housing adjacent to it. The fact that the Wombourne branch is still shown as a dismantled railway indicates that the alignment still exists

This picture from 2004 clearly shows a path worn between platform and track. One can imagine the frequency of use needed to produce it.

Picture by Andy Doherty www.railaroundbirmingham.co.uk

This 2016 picture from a similar position shows how quickly nature can take areas back when left to its own devices

NORTH TOWARD BROMLEY HALT

Take

Take

POSSIBLE LEYS ROAD HALT

 

Please forgive the spots on the pictures in this section. A thunderstorm started just as our photographer visited in June 2016

Taken from roughly the same point as the picture right but facing south towards the junctionis some evidence of a tiny piece of clearence of saplings.

Taken from roughly the same point as the picture right but facing south towards the junctionis some evidence of a tiny piece of clearence of saplings.

COOKLEY WORKS

 

As recently as 2015 the local council has rejected planning permission for 70 affordable houses on the 5.4 acre former Chorus Steel site, empty since its 2004 closure, due, in thier view, to insurmountable safety issues.

 

We contend that no issue is insurmountable and as there are three potential entrances to the site, it could be disign in three parts that do not interconnect to keep traffic flow increases to a minimum. Especially if a small station car park and footpath to Fens Pool the other side of the canal were created, reducing housing to say 50 units.

 

The council should negotiate solutions, not stand intransigently in the way of much needed housing that could be built on a brown field site.

BROMLEY HALT

 

Built alongside the canal, which has long been filled in and built upon Bromley Halt was similar to the previous halt in that it had narrow solid platforms with grass banking behind. Here however there were wooden shelters on both platforms.

 

1948 OS map showing that although it was called Bromley Halt, it actually served the hamlet of Brockmoor

Historic picture of the station. The canal, now filled in and built upon can be seen running alongside the railway. Even then it was easier to build alongside the highways of the day than create completely new corridors

Taken from the same position as the picture above right in June 2016 the station is no longer visible due to the forestation but the path is clearly used heavily and regularly to be maintained with the proliferation of vegitation over the last 12 years

Footpath from Fens Pool rising to Leys Road bridge above. The fact that there is not an easy road or footpath route between here and housing north of the canal is probably the reason the locals use the railway alignment

Just 50 metres north of the road bridge we find the platforms still in situ of Bromley Halt. Facing north we see through the gloom created by the forest canopy the southbound platform with track barely discernable.

At this point the photographer remained dry despite a Thunder Storm raging at the time

Trees growing within the track in the cutting just south of Pensnett Halt

Station site marked on modern OS style map showing the increased conerbation in the area and how a modern halt here would allow carless access to both the Dell Stadium and Buckpool & Fens Pool Nature Reserve

This picture taken from Leys Road bridge above in 2004 clearly shows a path worn alongside the overgrown platform.

Picture by Andy Doherty www.railaroundbirmingham.co.uk

Leys Road bridge. The metalwork between the road and footpath being the original parrapet, the footpath being a modern addition attached to the side of the original bridge

The puff of smoke from a smouldering sleeper seen here under Leys Road bridge is a clear indication of people congregating here. Whether youths on a drinking spree of homeless seeking shelter is anyones guess

Facing north following the track into the gloom is clearly visible a trail, the volume of local people utilising this unofficial pathway can only be guessed at to create such a well wornroute in view of the dgree of forestation that has occured

As we continue north the track swaps from side to side and the path switches which side of the track it runs, whichever course the rails run

OS type map showing the footpath location and possible halt position

Steep and dangerous access point up to the footpath at the end of Gibbons Lane where an alleyway cuts through to Mayflower Drive, part of the newish estate built above the railway cutting

PENSNETT HALT

 

Opened to serve the small town of Pensnett, which at that time was nearly a mile from the station.

 

The sidings to the north of the station survived until quite recently, thanks to the Perrier distribution centre. The sidings finally being lifted in 2015.

 

The disused car park just to the north of the station would serve as a good park and ride were this line to be reopenned.

 

1948 OS map showing that at the time Pensnett was some way from the station

Historic picture of where Pensnett Halt was once situated, one can jusr decern the overgrown platform between the tracks and High Street road bridge in the background

Station site on modern OS style map showing that Pensnett has now spread as far as the rail alignment with the trading estate the other side.

PENSNETT SIDINGS

 

Originally built to serve the now demolished Dreadnought brickworks, it was also later used by Perier to distribute its famous water until closure of the yard and mothballing of the line. The track was finally lifted in 2015, research indicates that there may be plans to extend the industrial estate, and northward there is underway, building of a new housing estate, Himley View.

1994 picture showing fireclay wagons marshalled in the sidings. Behind can be seen the Dreadnought Brick factory

Picture by by kind permission Andy Williams www.bescotplus.co.uk

2016 picture taken through the spars of the locked gate. Within the shadow is the earth mound to prevent illegal traveller encampment, beyond which can be seen the trading estate and between is the overgrown car park

In this moody picture one foggy morning one can just about see the shadow of Pensnett High Street bridge, the other side of which was the halt.

2016 picture again taken through the spars of a locked gate, this time in Tansey Green Lane looking into the former Dreadnought Brickworks site immediately behind on the other side of the road is the new Himley View Housing Estate. Slightly to the left of this shot is the former track alignment

GORNAL HALT

 

Originally built to serve the community of Gornalwood, it was again quite a way from what was then a very small community. Today it has the dubious honour of being the only station on the alignment that has been built on, the station coordinates being under the houses of Great Western Way on the Himley View estate currently being built in 2016. However the alignment would give the houses a value lift if a station were built to cennect the conurbation to Birmingham and the wider community via Stourbridge Junction.

 

Station site on modern OS style map showing that it is the middle of a new housing development. Further north, just above the 90 is the start of the South Staffs Railway walk that runs on the old track alignment right the way through to Coxley Junction

Freight train running through the remnants of Gornal Halt in 1954

Curtesy of Andrew Doherty railaroundbirmingham.co.uk

Ttoday the station is underneath the new housing estate Himley View in the field marked two in the 2011 aerial photo

HIMLEY

 

Although serving the small community around Himley Hall it was given full station status and had quite a substantial presence. This could possibly be due to its proximity to the home of the Rt Hon Earl of Dudley, owner of Baggerwood, and other collieries in the area.

1948 OS map showing that at the time Himley was some way from the station. Wall Heath to the south has got significantly closer to the station today, increasing possible patronage further

Station layout drawing showing that Himley was a substantial station despite its small population

Looking south through the station, southbound platform on the left the northbound seems to have been removed to create picnic area

Station site marked on modern OS style map showing that apart from the new bypass that has allowed the village to spead almost to the railway alignment, nothing much has changed in this location

Lookihg south from end of platform over the bridge towards Gornal Halt. Note: The large gas or water pipe thatthe instalers have used the bridge to make for cheaper instalation

2016 photo showing that the southbound platform is still largely extant. Although extracting tree roots may cause damage were ropening ever required

WOMBOURNE CUTTING

 

Between Himley and Wombourne is a quite impressive cutting, which thanks to the paths along the top on which to divert walkers, it would not preclude a possible reopening

Heading north from Himley station you can either walk on a path in the woods or up the track alignment, around a bend then you see the gas pipe with road bridge beyond

Heading north through the cutting there is quite an incline. This would be significant for heavy rail but not for light rail were the line to reopen

Looking north through the road bridge into the cutting from underneath the gas pipe

Looking north

Looking north from under the bridge in the previous picture the black hole in the distance is the bridge under the road in central Wombourne

BRATCH OR WOMBOURNE

 

Originally built to serve the small community of Bratch

1948 OS map, the station being between the O and the M of the larger fonted word Wombourne and shows that the station was indeed in Bratch, of the area Wombourne, being to the north of the village itself

Widley reproduced post card of the time showing the station. Note it states Bratch station Wombourne

Station site marked on modern OS style map showing that the station would be poorly placed if the line were reopened, either needing a more central, or a second south station

Approaching the station at track level in 2016, the building is now owned by South Staffs Council and leased as a cafe and the fencing is for health and Safety so that customers do not fall off the platform edge

Looking back through the station. The bank of trees and brambles on the right mask the remnants of the northbound platform

PENN HALT

 

Although serving the small community

TETTENHALL

 

Al

1948 OS map

Looking south towards Penn. The station building is leased as a cafe serving walkers, cyclists and locals alike

Well restored station building across the car park where the original station forecourt would have been

Station site marked on modern OS style map

Looking north from the same spot towards Coxley Junction. The soutnbound platform wall still visible despite heavy undergrowth

Former engine shed now used as a transport museum open most Sundays. Sadly for our purposes not on Easter Sunday when we visited