Wolverhampton and Walsall Railway


Wolverhampton and Walsall Railway

The Wolverhampton and Walsall Railway was incorporated in 1865 in order to connect the city of Wolverhampton, England with nearby towns such as Walsall, Willenhall and Wednesfield.

The Route

The line started at Wolverhampton High Level, and had stations at the following locations:
*Heath Town
*Wednesfield
*Willenhall (Stafford Street)
*Short Heath
*Bentley
*North Walsall
*Walsall

The railway opened on 1 November 1872 and was initially operated jointly by the Midland Railway and the London and North Western Railway. The route was 8 miles long.

However, disagreements between the partners soon appeared, and the railway was bought outright by the London and North Western Railway in 1875. A year later it was sold to the Midland Railway, and was then connected to the Sutton Park Line. This allowed the Midland Railway to have a direct route into Wolverhampton.

Wednesfield Road terminus

In 1878, the running powers for the Midland Railway into Wolverhampton High Level ceased, and so the company decided to build a new terminus on Wednesfield Road, just to the east of Wolverhampton Low Level. This would have led to the unusual situation of having three stations for three different companies next to each other, and an Act of Parliament to allow construction of the new station was passed on 28 June 1877. However, the London and North Western Railway also gained an Act on the same day to allow construction of the "Loop Line" between the Grand Junction Railway and Wolverhampton High Level (which would allow the LNWR access to Willenhall and Walsall via that route), and to allow the extension of the High Level station itself. This would have caused access problems for both the Low Level station, and the proposed station at Wednesfield Road. Eventually, the extension plan was dropped, and the Midland Railway managed to renegotiate the use of Wolverhampton High Level. As the proposed new terminal was no longer required, a large goods depot was built in its place. This depot was demolished in the 1990s, and is today the site of a large Royal Mail sorting office.

Closure

Passenger numbers on the line were surprisingly low, and the route (by now renamed as the Walsall to Wolverhampton Line, not to be confused with the modern Walsall to Wolverhampton Line which is the LNWR's route) was never particularly successful.

Stations on the line started closing within a few years, and passenger services ceased in the 1930s. However, the line was kept in its entirety until 1966 as a goods route before the track was lifted in sections, and bridges removed.

The first section removed was that between Bentley and North Walsall on 28 September 1964 due to the construction of the M6 motorway. By 1977, the track had been lifted between Noose Lane, Willenhall and Birchills Power Station, though the extant sections were still used to serve the industrial areas. The goods only sections of track were removed in their entirety during the 1980s.

In the 1990s, a section of the trackbed was used for the route of the A4124 Wednesfield Way.

Future

It is possible that the line will partially reopen with a proposed route for the Midland Metro. However, these plans are not likely to be brought to fruition for several years.

References

* [http://www.centro.org.uk/metrofuture/5W/5W%20index.asp Centro 5Ws Midland Metro Route]
* [http://johnwoodfield.co.uk/wlvmanuf.htm A History of Manufacturing in Wolverhampton]
*cite book |last=Christiansen |first=Rex|title=A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain Volume 7 |year=1983 |isbn=0-946537-00-3


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