Chasewater Railway Museum
New-to-us local photographs
We have received a few photographs which we have not seen before.
Brownhills LMS (LNWR) Station, High Street. 1967
Walsall Wood Station, just one platform left.
The Midland Railway line from Walsall Wood heading towards Chasewater. The track had been lifted on the left, where it headed for the canal. The bridge had been removed. The line on the right went into Walsall Wood Colliery (The Coppy Pit).
This photograph is most interesting. I think your original thoughts were that it was taken north of the Walsall Wood Colliery photo. If so, where? It is true that the landscape is similar to that found in that location but if the photo was taken looking north as the telegraph poles and the sun’s lighting would seems to suggest then where would the overbridge from which the photo is taken be located? There are also a couple of other issues – the slag heap on the left and the electricity cable crossing the photo from left to right in the mid-distance.
I think that the house is actually called “Bridge Cottage, 1900”. The date is a guess, but I believe the cottage was built around 1888 – 1902, i.e.:- after the railway. The bushes/scrub on the right hides Long Lane. The slag heap is that of Leacroft Colliery and the electricity cable is clearly shown on post-war maps running between Churchbridge Sub-station and Drakelow Power Station. The photographer was standing on Chapel Street Bridge in Norton Canes, looking north towards Littleworth Junction. Again a 1966-67 date is not unrealistic as the line remained in-situ at that time. The lane on the left is not a canal, the Wyrley and Essington Canal Extension branch being almost immediately to the left of the photographer. As usual, I will stand to be corrected but the above seems to firmly locate the photo to this site. The electricity cable is by far the biggest clue. – Ian Pell
This photo is definitely of Norton Crossing, Norton Canes. We are looking south towards Conduit Junction at the Hednesford – Walsall road. In later years the crossing was manned by Bernard Hurmson and his wife Bettie. Clearly, the photograph was taken after closure. The signal arm on the down line is for the original end of the branch at Norton Green, as per the attached signalling diagram from the John Swift Collection of signal box diagrams of the 1950’s. Ian Pell
Comment from Colin Noble: Bernard Hurmson was my stepfather, and as you refer, was the sole signalman at the Signalbox on Walsall Rd, Norton Canes, up to the closure of the line. His wife, Bessie, not Betty, was actually one of the Village Post Ladies, not working for the Railway!
As can be seen form the photo of Bessie at the crossing, the gates are the same in construction as per your photograph, and the box is the same, hence the conclusion that your photograph is of Norton Crossing, probably on around 1966-67? Ian Pell
The above photograph, taken in 1974 shows the crossing keeper’s cottage and Ryder’s Hayes Level Crossing with the traditional crossing gates in place. The following year these were replaced by rural barrier gates and the crossing keeper was removed and the buildings demolished. The view is looking south towards Railswood and Pelsall Station. From 1856-58 a station existed to the immediate south of the keeper’s building. Ryders Hayes signal box which was situated behind the photographer on the up side was an early LN&W box. It pre-dated Norton Junction No.1 box, but was retained even after the Norton Junction box was replaced by Norton Junction No.1 box in 1889. It closed as late as the 1950’s. Initially, it controlled Bloomer’s Sidings which were in place to serve the Pelsall Coal and Iron Company’s branch (1865) even before the Norton Branch (1858) and sidings (begun in 1889). Ian Pell
This 1884 maps clearly shows the two boxes – Ryders Hays Crossing box and Norton Junction box. The later is in its original location on the down side of the line. It also illustrates the lack of sidings to the north of the junction on the Norton Branch. The sidings shown were often called “Bloomer’s sidings”, a reference to the owner of the PC & I Company and were constructed, together with a further line (extended loop) onto the branch in 1875 (mt6/147/17). In 1875 the sidings consisted of 4 sidings on the down side and 1 siding on the up side. At this time (18th Nov 1875) the junction was upgraded and additions points and signalling were added. The beginning of Norton Junction sidings as we knew them started in earnest in 1889 when the new Norton Junction No.1 box was also added. The sidings were initially controlled by Ryders Haye’s box, with Norton Junction box controlling the junction with the Norton branch and the two down sidings which extended parallel to the down line towards Brownhills. Prior to the 1889 works , the Walsall Wood Colliery branch had been added, together with an additional up siding in October 1882 and the footbridge north of Ryder’s Hayes box had been approved for construction in December 1884.
By April 1884, the WTT indicated that Target No.74 shunted the Walsall Wood and the PC&I sidings, and that Target No. 78 “cleared out” all traffic from the above mentioned sidings. On weekdays there were 2 regular and 3 conditional freight workings on the Norton Branch, working to and from Norton Junction, These were:- 1 Norton Junction to Harrison’s Sdg. 1 Norton Junction to Conduit Colliery No. 80 – Norton Junction to Conduit Colliery as required.
Ryder’s Hayes signal box, which had a Tumbler frame, closed on 1st September 1954 when Norton Junction No.1 took control of the sidings and crossing (mt29/100/26).
Our thanks to Peter Stamper for the first six photos, and to Ian Pell for the others and for his always worth-while comments.