Blythe Bridge (BYB)

Blythe Bridge serves the village of Blythe Bridge which is South-East of Stoke-on-Trent in the Staffordshire Moorlands on the North Staffordshire Line between Derby and Crewe (via Stoke-on-Trent).

Type: National Rail
(North Staffordshire Line)
Station code: BYB
Opened: 1848
Platforms: 2
The station was opened in 1848 by the North Staffordshire Railway. It was later operated by the LMS and British Railways. Nowadays it is managed by East Midlands Trains but is now an unstaffed station. However it has won an award (in 2010) for being the best kept small station [1].

Blythe Bridge used to have a station building with a canopy [2] but this has long been demolished. The former goods yard has gone as well though the goods shed still exists and is used by a builders' merchants. The only structures on the platforms now are bus shelters and bike racks.

Access between the two platforms is via the road (and level crossing) at the Stoke end of the station. Blythe Bridge is near to the heritage Foxfield Railway, the Southern terminus of which is Blythe Bridge Caverswall Road which is about half a mile away.
East Midland Trains 156 497 departs heading for Crewe, main station building used to be on the left

Looking toward the level crossing (which is up)

Former goods yard the other side of the platform

Former goods shed, a waiting room was also here built into the side of the shed
An EMT Class 156 approaches from Derby

[1] Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Derby to Stoke-on-Trent (Middleton Press, 2016) p. 56
[2] Ibid p. 52

Blundellsands & Crosby (BLN)

Blundellsands & Crosby is a station on the Merseyrail Northern Line between Hall Road and Waterloo. The station was opened by the Liverpool, Crosby & Southport Railway in 1848. Later it was operated by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway, London & North Western Railway, LMS, British Railways and in recent years since privatisation Merseyrail.

Type: National Rail (Merseyrail
Northern Line)
Station code: BLN
Opened: 1848
Platforms: 2
Although Crosby is in the station name it is not that close to the traditional centre of the town. This was due to opposition from landowners who did not want it running too close to the village centre. The station's location however was a boon to Blundellsands and helped turn it into an upmarket residential area [1] close to the sea front.

The current station buildings date from a rebuilding of the station in the late 1960s, the station also losing its goods facilities. The station was revamped in 2009 with a full refurbishment, a new toilet and information displays.
View of the main Liverpool platform buildings 

Merseyrail 507 028 departs for Southport

[1] Jonathan Cadwallader & Martin Jenkins, Merseyside Electrics (Ian Allan, 2010) p. 21

Mill Hill East (ZML)

Mill Hill East is an oddity on the Northern Line being the terminus and only station on a short branch of the line from Finchley Central.

Type: Transport for London
(Northern Line)
Station code: ZML
Opened: 1867
Platforms: 1
The station was originally opened long before the advent of the London Underground, being a stop on the Great Northern Railway's line from Finsbury Park to Edgware opening in 1867. The station was opened as Mill Hill, the "East" being added later when another station called Mill Hill was proposed as part of the Northern Heights programme in the 1930s.

Northern Heights was a plan to takeover of the LNER line (as it was by then) by London Underground and making it part of the Northern Line [1]. It was proposed to double the line and electrify it. The Second World War interrupted these plans though Mill Hill East was re-opened as an electrified Underground station in 1941. Post-war austerity and changes in planning laws put paid to the plans, delaying and finally killing off Northern Heights. Mill Hill East was left as the terminus of a short single track from Finchley Central. Although the line was now part of London Underground, the LNER (and later British Railways) continued to use the station's goods yard until 1962 when it was closed. The rest of the line through to Edgware was closed in 1964 [2].

Mill Hill East is among the oldest stations on the current Underground, the Dollis Brook Viaduct which trains have to travel along to get to the station is the highest point of the Underground above sea level. Most trains to Mill Hill East are a shuttle service from Finchley Central though in peak hours there are through trains to the rest of the Northern Line.
Northern Line 95ts 51717 waits at Mill Hill East

Platform signage

Waiting room

Main entrance

[1] Siddy Holloway, Highgate Wilderness Walkabout (London Transport Museum, 2017) p. 8
[2] Jason Cross, London Underground Guide 2017 (Train Crazy, 2017) p. 142

Oakham (OKM)

Oakham serves the town of the same name and is the only remaining main line station in the county of Rutland.

Type: National Rail
(B'ham - Peterborough Line)
Station code: OKM
Opened: 1848
Platforms: 2
Oakham was opened by the Midland Counties Railway in 1848. Once the station was just part of a network across the county operated by the Midland Counties and its successors the Midland Railway, LMS and British Railways. However the other Rutland stations were closed in the 1960s under Beeching.

Oakham is served by Cross Country on its Birmingham New Street-Stansted Airport service and also by East Midland Trains. The main station building is the original as built complete with cast iron canopy and is Grade II listed. The station retains a ticket office though it is not always manned. There are shelters and waiting rooms for both platforms. Access via the platforms is via a footbridge.

One notable feature of the station is the signal box which controls the level crossing at one end of the platforms. This signal box was the prototype for the popular Airfix model kit.
Cross Country 170 114 departs heading for Peterborough

Footbridge between the platforms

Oakham signalbox 
Main station building

View from the footbridge, main station building on the left, signalbox top middle

Main station building

Duddeston (DUD)

Duddeston was opened by the Grand Junction Railway as 1837 as Vauxhall and was the terminus of the line from the North (and thus Birmingham's first railway terminus) for 2 years until the opening of Birmingham Curzon Street.

Type: National Rail
(Cross-City Line &
Walsall Line)
Station code: DUD
Opened: 1837
Platforms: 2
After the opening of Curzon Street Duddeston (still known as Vauxhall) closed to passenger services, being used for freight only until it was rebuilt by the London & North Western Railway in 1869. In 1889 it was renamed to Vauxhall & Duddeston. The final renaming to Duddeston came in 1974 [1].

The station has suffered destruction a number of times. The station was hit by a German bomb in 1941 which destroyed the main station building. The replacement building also burned down in the 1950s!

Duddeston used to be adjacent to the Grand Junction Railway's engine shed (which opened in 1840) and a sizeable goods yard though these have now gone. The lines through the station were quadrupled in 1891 though only 1 platform is in use now (the other has become a buddleia plantation!)

As part of the Cross-City and Walsall Lines Duddeston has been electrified. However not all services on these busy lines stop at Duddeston. Just two services run in each direction every hour.
London Midland 323 341 departs on a service North

Ticket office is on the road above the station

The platforms have these metal sculptures

Platform sign

Former platform, not been used for some time!

London Midland 323 212

[1] Vic Mitchell, North of Birmingham (Middleton Press, 2014) fig. 75

Highgate High-Level

Early railways had bypassed the high ground to the North of London (known as the Northern Heights) but in the 1860s the Edgware, Highgate & London Railway was formed to link Edgware, Mill Hill, Highgate and Finchley to London via Finsbury Park. The scheme was taken over by the Great Northern Railway during building and the line opened in 1867 [1].

Type: Great Northern Railway 
Opened: 1867
Closed: 1954
Platforms: 2
Highgate station was opened in 1867, the station located in a small cutting with the railway entering tunnels either end of the platforms. The station originally had 2 separate platforms but was later modified to have an island platform to aid interchange between the various services that called at Highgate including to Alexandra Palace, a branch line opening in 1873.

As part of the pre-Second World War New Works Programme London Transport extended the Northern Line out to Highgate and beyond with the new tube station built underneath the existing Highgate station [2] - the Northern Heights Plan [3]. Highgate was intended to become a major transport hub in the North of London integrating surface and tube services with a Charles Holden designed rebuilt Highgate High Level. The Second World War interrupted these grand plans though Highgate tube station was able to open in 1941 [4]. Any other work was cut back and suspended.

After the end of the war austerity and new laws protecting the Green Belt saw the railway plans for North of London cut back dramatically. Highgate High Level began to decline after plans to rebuild the station were abandoned. The Alexander Palace branch was closed in 1954 and with it passenger services to the High Level station [5]. The line continued to be used by freight but the rails were finally lifted in 1971.

Highgate High Level didn't disappear however. The site was gradually reclaimed by nature and is now a valuable nature reserve. The tunnels have become a bat sanctuary. The platforms and some station buildings have been retained and are sometimes used for filming and tours.
Surviving platform structures

The track bed is now covered over 
Former booking office and station house

Subway access

Entrance to one of the tunnels, now for bats only!

Surviving infrastructure, old and newer!

[1] Siddy Holloway, Highgate wilderness walkabout (London Transport Museum, 2017) p. 3
[2] Paul Moss, London Underground (Haynes, 2014) p. 94
[3] Holloway p. 8
[4] Jason Cross, London Underground Guide 2017 (Train Crazy, 2017) p. 132
[5] Ben Pedroche, Do Not Alight Here (Capital History, 2011) p. 99

Sandhills (SDL)

Sandhills is just North of Liverpool city centre and is on the Merseyrail Northern Line. At Sandhills there is a junction (Sandhills Junction) and North bound trains can either head up to Southport or on the branch to Ormskirk and Kirkby.

Type: National Rail (Merseyrail
Northern Line)
Station code: SDL
Opened: 1850
Platforms: 2
The station was built as an intermediate stop on the Liverpool, Crosby & Southport Railway in 1850 though was soon taken over by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (who oversaw the electrification of the line [1] to 630v DC third rail - nowadays it is 750v), the London North Western Railway, the London Midland & Scottish Railway and finally British Railways! Sandhills had four platforms until it was reduced and downgraded in the early 1970s.

Overlooking the Mersey, Sandhills is a compact station with an island platform serving both directions. The station entrance, and the ticket office, are via a ramp and a subway. Sandhills is the station passengers need if they are going to Anfield or Goodison Park with the "Soccerbus" running between Sandhills and the football grounds on match days.
Merseyrail 507 024 on a Southport bound service

Maps for both directions

Waiting room

Merseyrail 508 136 prepares to depart

[1] Jonathan Cadwallader & Martin Jenkins, Merseyside Electrics (Ian Allan, 2010) p. 3

Sevenoaks (SEV)

Sevenoaks serves the town of the same name in Western Kent. The station is on the South Eastern Main and Hastings Lines.

Type: National Rail
(South Eastern Main Line &
Hastings Line)
Station code: SEV
Opened: 1868
Platforms: 4
The station was opened as Sevenoaks Tubs Hill by the South Eastern Railway in 1868. However it was not the first station in the town, it was preceded by another station called Sevenoaks Bat & Ball located in the North of the town which opened in 1862. That station was re-named later on and is now just Bat & Ball. Sevenoaks, which is much more central in the town, did not lose the "Tubs Hill" part of its name until 1950. Sevenoaks became part of the Southern Railway DC third-rail electrified network in 1935.

It has always a busy station with services to London (Charing Cross and Cannon Street), Tunbridge Wells, Folkestone and Hastings amongst others. It had 8 platforms and 4 through lines at one stage though has been reduced to 4 platforms now. The station was rebuilt in the 1970s which is when the current ticket office was constructed.
Thameslink 700 044
Southeastern 375 623 with a London bound service

General view of the platforms

View down the line

Southeastern 376 023 arrives with a terminating service from London

Blake Street (BKT)

Blake Street is a stop on the North side of the Cross-City Line in Birmingham, serving Hill Hook to the North of Sutton Coldfield. It is located on the border between the West Midlands and Staffordshire and is the furthest you can go with a Network WM railcard or pass.

Type: National Rail
(Cross-City Line)
Station code: BKT
Opened: 1884
Platforms: 2
The station was opened by the London & North Western Railway in 1884 as part of the extension of the Birmingham New Street to Sutton Coldfield line to Lichfield City. Blake Street (which is named after the road that runs across just to the North of the station - it is where the county border is too) was built with a goods yard and cattle pens, both being down from station towards Birmingham. The goods yard was closed in 1964 [1]. The station became part of the Cross-City Line in 1978. The station was electrified along with the rest of the line in 1992.

Trains can terminate at Blake Street though that happens rarely now. Access between the platforms is via a subway, there being a manned ticket office at the end of the subway on the Birmingham side. Each platform is also accessible from ground level via ramps.
LM 323 215 departs with a Lichfield bound service

Waiting room on the Birmingham platform

Subway between platforms, the ticket office is at the end
Bus shelter on the Lichfield platform

Looking down the line towards Lichfield

LM 323 218 on another Lichfield bound service

[1] Vic Mitchell, North of Birmingham (Middleton Press, 2014) Fig. 109

Cheltenham Spa (CNM)

Once there half a dozen stations in the town but Cheltenham Spa is now the only remaining station in Cheltenham.

Type: National Rail
(Birmingham-Bristol Line)
Station code: CNM
Opened: 1840
Platforms: 2
The station was opened by the Birmingham & Gloucester Railway in 1840 as Lansdown. Lansdown was named after a housing development a mile from the town centre. It was later renamed Cheltenham Spa (Lansdown) by the LMS and finally just Cheltenham Spa in British Railway days. Cheltenham's other stations such as Malvern Road (1966) and Cheltenham South & Leckhampton (1962) have now closed. One thing to note is that the "Spa" part of the name was a marketing invention by the railway company to make the town more attractive to tourists.

Much of the station has remained fairly unchanged since 1840 with the original iron pillars still in place. The station entrance's original stone portico was replaced by a wooden canopy in the 1960s [1]. The footbridge is also a more recent replacement.

Cheltenham Spa is a busy station with up to 12 trains per hour operated by Great Western Railway, Cross Country and Arriva Trains Wales. Recently there have been proposals to improve the station and increase operational flexibility including the building of two bay platforms for terminating services (which currently have to terminate on the main line). However all plans are currently on hold.
View along the platform

Platform canopy


GWR 43 024 arrives with a Swindon bound service

A South West bound Cross Country HST prepares to depart
[1] Cheltenham Spa Railway Station