Bromsgrove's railway heritage

17:15 23 March 2010

Stanier 5  44804 being banked up the Lickey Incline just out from Bromsgrove Station

Stanier 5 44804 being banked up the Lickey Incline just out from Bromsgrove Station

Bromsgrove station celebrates 170 years in 2010 and the good news is that it is earmarked for development – to the relief of long-suffering commuters. <br/><br/><br/><br/>Photographs: Ron Swift

There is good news for the people of Bromsgrove. Network Rail has booked weekend line closures from April to October 2011. This gives a window of opportunity to modify the track and build platforms for Bromsgrove's new station.
When the new station is in place, Network Rail plans to extend the electrified cross-city line from Lichfield between Barnt Green and Bromsgrove. For those long-suffering commuters of Bromsgrove who work in Central Birmingham this should bring an end to the cattle truck commute. There will be adequate trains, frequent services (three per hour) and reduced damage to the environment. Trains produce less carbon dioxide per passenger mile than cars, and electric trains less than diesel, even allowing for the power station.
Bromsgrove's station was opened in June 1840, making it 170 years old. It was built on the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway, which avoided Worcester, to provide a direct route to the port from the manufacturing Midlands.
Railways were cutting edge technology in 1840. The first main line railway had only been opened in 1830. Bromsgrove was on the Birmingham to Bristol turnpike. As the rich began to use the railway, coaching inns closed and coaches were taken off the road. The railway gave citizens easy access to Birmingham, Cheltenham and Gloucester. But ordinary people could not afford railway travel. Gladstone's Railway Act of 1844 introduced penny-a-mile travel. It was only intended to allow labour to follow work, with a large luggage allowance.
In 1846 the Midland Railway bought the Birmingham and Gloucester. It was to provide links to the South Coast, North and Scotland.


Fish
Regular fish trains linked Bromsgrove with the North Sea ports. Fish were packed in wooden crates with ice. Part of the smell of the steam age station was fish, which merged with steam, coal, oil and ash. Cheap coal was brought to Bromsgrove by canal before the railway.


Nails
Bromsgrove was a centre of nailmaking. Nails were made from iron rods in a brick hearth filled with coke and blown by bellows. The nail shops were at the back of homes in lower High Street, Worcester Street, Hanover Street, and St John's Street. The nailers were dependent on the nailmaster for iron and coke and sold him the nails to purchase more materials.
Nailmakers wages didn't increase in 90 years in the 19th century, despite seven major strikes in nailmaking. The nailers were working in a sweated industry. The conditions they endured with their families were described in newspapers in the 1880s and 1890s. Nailmaking machinery produced much more cheaply than could be achieved by hand and the trade finally died in the 1950s.
The nailmasters probably benefited from the railway more than the nailers. Iron and coke could be brought in by rail and nails moved to markets all over Britain.



Fairs and circuses
Bromsgrove, as a market town, had a flourishing fair. The midsummer fair would see horses arrive and depart by rail, in the special vans provided.
Circuses travelled by train. After arrival at the station they paraded up New Road. The elephants walked, free of their elephant vans. The lions were in cages, the horses led by halter. The Big Top would be dismantled for transport. Canvas was folded, poles split in sections and all loaded into railway wagons.



Cheap travel
In 1874 the Midland railway abolished Second Class and allowed Third Class passengers on its expresses. A huge step forward for ordinary people. The Cheap Trains Act of 1883 introduced workmen's tickets. Daily rail travel became affordable.
However, daily travel to work was wasteful of railway resources. These were only used for a couple of hours in the morning and evening. Too much of this, and road competition, meant British Rail made losses and led to the Beeching cuts of 1962.
Beeching and his disciples brought the station near closure in the late 1960s. But it was rebuilt with a single platform for both directions and space for only three carriages.
In 1990 it acquired a second platform and a footbridge. The southbound platform could take four coaches and services were increased. During the 1990s more passengers came back to the railways as road congestion increased and the three carriage limit at Bromsgrove created cattle truck conditions at busy times.
When the new station is in place, better connections to Worcester and Cheltenham will ease travel to the south west, south Wales and the Thames valley.

Short Platforms
In steam days a train which was too long for a platform stopped twice to allow all the passengers on and off. The Victorian station at Bromsgrove was adequate for trains which stopped twice.
Nowadays, health and safety legislation forbids this, except in a few places where it has been done continuously since steam times. Otherwise complex electronic protection is needed to prevent passengers stepping into a void.
This is why Bromsgrove is stuck with three carriage trains northbound until a new station can be built. The overcrowding is terrible and travellers are forced on to grossly congested roads.
The northbound platform was built at the end of the 1960s. It is squeezed between the freight loop points and St Godwald's Road bridge, rebuilt to serve a housing development.
The new station is planned for the old goods yard area and it is hoped it will take six carriage trains.

Steam on the Lickey Incline
The section of railway outside Bromsgrove is famous for being the steepest mainline gradient in Britain. The Lickey Incline rises at 1 in 37 for two miles from Bromsgrove to Blackwell. Steam always struggled with the gradient. In 1840 there were hill-climbing engines imported from the USA. In 1845 Great Britain was built in Bromsgrove works. There were always many small shunting engines banking from Midland railway days. In 1919 the Midland built a special large banker for Bromsgrove, which became known as Big Bertha. This lasted to 1956, uneclipsed by a double engine banker imported from the Sheffield area, in 1949. After 1956 a standard freight engine was used.

0 comments

More from Out & About

Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) retains her Olympic title, whilst posting a new Olympic record with her dancing partner Valegro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 15, 2016. Photography: Jon Stroud Media

Gloucestershire’s Charlotte Dujardin retains her Olympic title, whilst posting a new Olympic record with her dancing partner Valegro at Rio 2016

Read more
Monday, August 1, 2016
Arlington Row Bibury ©  nitsawan katerattanakul, Shutterstock

From the honey-coloured stone cottages in Burford, to the medieval architecture of Winchcombe high street, the Cotswolds are home to some of the most beautiful scenes in the world. But how many of these pretty towns and villages have you visited?

Read more
Monday, July 11, 2016
A row of cottages in Bibury © Christian Mueller, Shutterstock

Cotswold villages are some of the most beautiful in Britain – think honey-coloured cottages, cosy pubs, tiny tearooms and narrow streets. We pick ten of the prettiest Cotswolds villages to explore.

Read more
Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Oak and Furrows rescue centre appeals for aid as a large number of sick and injured wildlife arrive for urgent care

Read more
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
HRH The Prince of Wales, Patron, Music in Country Churches, at a concert at Malmesbury Abbey, Malmesbury, Wiltshire,England, on Saturday 21st May. The concert was performed by the English Chamber Orchestra and featured British Cellist, Caroline Dale.
(PIC PAUL NICHOLLS) TEL 07718 152168
EDF ENERGY SOUTH WEST NEWS PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR 2009/2014
WWW.PAULNICHOLLSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

HRH The Prince of Wales, patron of Music in Country Churches, attended a concert at Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, on Saturday, May 21, 2016. The concert was performed by the English Chamber Orchestra and featured British cellist, Caroline Dale.

Read more
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Log House Holidays, Poole Keynes, Gloucestershire

Candia McKormack and family go in search of tranquillity – and a good WiFi signal – on a short break in a Cotswold log house

Read more
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
David Hughes © Shutterstock

Keep that rubber on the road with a motivational refuel at one of these top cycling cafés in the Cotswolds.

Read more
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Burford in the spring

The days are getting longer and the Cotswolds are gradually becoming a floral delight, but there are still plenty of opportunities for frosty morning walks and toasting your feet in front of the fire. Springtime in the Cotswolds is absolute bliss as these pictures show.

Read more
Friday, March 18, 2016
The new improved Roses Theatre

Big changes have been happening behind the scenes at Tewkesbury’s well-loved theatre – from the fabulous Cotteswold Coffee shop to the swish new bar and welcoming entrance foyer – and now the doors have been flung open so you too can get along and see the transformation for yourself

Read more
Monday, March 14, 2016
Sezincote © James Stringer, Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

If captivating grade-listed buildings with landscaped gardens are your thing, you’ve come to the right place. We pick 9 of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring stately homes you simply need to visit this year.

Read more
Monday, March 7, 2016
Broadway High Street

The Cotswold village of Broadway is renowned for its honey coloured houses, picturesque streets and historic architecture. We’ve assembled a brief guide to help you make the most of this wonderful location.

Read more
Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The equine condition laminitis is common and frustrating to treat, says Debbie Graham.Veterinary surgeon Jess Hill offers advice on how to spot the symptoms, and what course of action to choose for your pony.

Read more
Equestrian
Wednesday, December 2, 2015

For 46 weeks of the year, Cotswold veterinary surgeon Tim Brazil’s patients are the sports and pleasure horses of this area and beyond. But for the remaining six it is the working equines of developing countries, like India and Egypt, that demand his attention. Debbie Graham spoke to him about his work.

Read more
Equestrian
Monday, October 12, 2015
Livestock on display at the show

Moreton Country show proved to be ever popular this year, with 350 trade stands, and locally-produced food and attractions, which included animal breeds, exhibitors and agricultural vehicles. Pigs, which appeared in some episodes of the hit television drama Downton Abbey, were big crowd pullers, as were the IMPS motorcycle team and show jumping stars who thrilled crowds in the grand arena.

Read more

Topics of Interest

A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
subscription ad
subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Worcester's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search