Birmingham Snow Hill (BSW)

Birmingham Snow Hill, one of Birmingham's three large railway stations, has had a long history though the current station is very different to the original Great Western Railway one.
Type: National Rail
(Snow Hill Lines)
Station code: BSW
Opened: 1852 (Closed 1972)
Re-Opened: 1987
Platforms: 3

This station opened in 1852 on the London Paddington to Wolverhampton line with major rebuilding and enlarging in the early 1910s to compete with Birmingham New Street. The station had a huge roof and an ornate facade like many major rail stations of the time [1].

Snow Hill was a victim of the Beeching railway cuts of the 1960s with a gradual rundown including unstaffing in 1969 and final closure in 1972 [2]. The facade was demolished in the 1970s, the station area itself surviving as a car park for a time. Interestingly it featured in the 1970s BBC TV series Gangsters which had a fight scene take place in its crumbling ruins.

The original station clock was bought by a commuter for £125 when the station was closed as he had met his future wife under the clock years before. He said he intended to put the clock up on his farm in Uttoxeter [3]. Some items from the original Snow Hill including the Booking Hall sign were later reused in the refurbishment of the nearby Birmingham Moor Street.

Snow Hill was reborn in the late 1980s as a very different station with modern architecture and a car park on top (though reusing the old lines) with services to London Marylebone, Stratford-upon-Avon and Worcester the main destinations. The new station is on a smaller scale than the original with 2 island platforms (the original had 10!) The Midlands Metro, when built in the 1990s, had its Birmingham terminus located at Snow Hill though recently that has moved up to outside New Street.

Birmingham Snow Hill was managed by London Midland but when that company was replaced by the new West Midlands Railway now Hill was used to launch the new branding and livery [4].

Current plans are for more trains at Snow Hill as part of the Midlands Rail Hub plans with the former Metro terminus platform being reused for heavy rail. Chiltern hopes to extend all of its London services to Snow Hill (presently many services terminate at Moor Street [5]). The original Snow Hill may have died a long time ago but the current station seems to have a pretty bright future.
WMT 172 339 at Birmingham Snow Hill

A look down the platforms in London Midland days

Station entrance

New WMT branded interior

Waiting room

WMT 170 634

[1] Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Banbury to Birmingham (Middleton Press, 2015) map. XXXII
[2] The Guardian, 01 July 1966 p. 12
[3] Daily Mirror, Tue 1 Jul 1969 p. 2-3
[4] "West Midlands Trains launches", Modern Railways (January 2018) p. 12 
[5] James Abbott, "West Midlands Railway", Modern Railways (December 2016) p. 51

Water Orton (WTO)

Water Orton serves an area of North Warwickshire near to Birmingham.
Type: National Rail
(Birmingham-Leicester Line)
Station code: WTO
Opened: 1842
Platforms: 2

The first station at Water Orton was built by the Birmingham & Derby Junction Railway in 1842. It was replaced by the current station built by the Midland Railway in 1909 after the junction of the line to Kingsbury was re-sited to allow for higher line speeds. The new station was built further away from the junction [1].

The station was built as a single island platform with the station building on a road bridge which crossed the railway lines. A goods yard used to be located next to the station but it was closed in 1966 [2].

Although the station is managed by West Midlands Trains only Cross Country services stop there, usually a two-hourly train between Birmingham New Street and Leicester though there is also one train a day to and from Derby. There is no Sunday service.
Two Cross Country trains pass just North of the station

Side of the station building, seen better days

Stairway down to the platforms

View down the platforms

Station building

[1] Vic Mitchell, North of Birmingham (Middleton Press, 2014) fig. 29
[2] Vic Mitchell, Birmingham to Tamworth and Nuneaton (Middleton Press, 2014) fig. 45

Tower Gateway (ZTG)

Tower Gateway was the original Western terminus of the Docklands Light Railway though these days it has been to an extent eclipsed by later additions to the network.
Type: Transport for London
(Docklands Light Railway)
Station code: ZTG
Opened: 1987
Platforms: 2

The station was opened in 1987 as the terminus of the City route of the original DLR scheme but was replaced as the main Western terminus in 1991 when the extension to Bank was opened. Tower Gateway is close to London Fenchurch Street and Tower Hill stations. Most services to the station originate from Beckton.

As built the station had two tracks with a cross-over just outside the station [1] but Tower Gateway is nowadays a single line terminus. It has separate platforms for loading and unloading passengers. Transport for London are considering closing Tower Gateway to release more capacity for the much busier Bank (though it still has over 4 million passengers a year!)
Entrance to the station

View down the platform, the lines into Fenchurch Street in the background

DLR #48 arrives, passengers will unload on the far platform

Platform 1 is for unloading only

[1] Stephen Jolly and Boy Bayman, Docklands Light Railway (Capital Transport, 1986) p. 62

Highgate (ZHG)

Highgate mainline station was opened in 1867 by the Great Northern Railway, in the 1930s London Transport was expanding the Northern Line branch through to High Barnet as part of the Northern Heights project and aimed to take over the-then LNER operated lined and connect them to the growing tube network. A new tube station was built below the existing mainline station with a new subterranean ticket office for both stations [1].
Type: Transport for London
(Northern Line)
Station code: ZHG
Opened: 1941
Platforms: 2

World War 2 interfered with London Transport's plans though work on the new station was sufficiently advanced for Highgate tube station to open in 1941 (trains ran though to East Finchley from 1939 but the station could not be opened until escalators had been completed). Passengers could use Highgate before the official opening however, as an air raid shelter though had to board trains at Archway to get to the Highgate platforms.

Post-war the Northern Heights project was largely abandoned and the main line station was closed in 1954. The tube station remained though grandeose plans by Charles Holden for an elaborate new building for both stations were greatly cut back.

One interesting aspect of the tube station is that they were designed for 9-car trains though since opening shorter trains have been used [2]. Unlike most stations therefore which are an exercise in squeezing a train in there is some leeway at Highgate.
95ts 51622 arrives on a service for High Barnet

End of the platform

Look down the platform, the original tiling still in place

Station name on tiles

A train has arrived

[1] Siddy Holloway, Highgate wilderness walkabout (London Transport Museum, 2017) p. 10
[2] Jason Cross, London Underground Guide 2017 (Train Crazy, 2017) p. 132

Tyseley (TYS)

Tyseley is at the junction of the lines from Birmingham Moor Street to Stratford-upon-Avon and London Marylebone via Leamington Spa. It is also adjacent to a motive power depot and the Birmingham Railway Museum / Tyseley Locomotive Works (see below).
Type: National Rail
(Chiltern Main Line)
Station code: TYS
Opened: 1906
Platforms: 4

The station was opened by the Great Western Railway in 1906 on what was originally the line from London Paddington to Birkenhead Woodside at the junction of the North Warwickshire Line down to Stratford-upon-Avon [1], the station was known as Tyseley Junction for a time. The station has a ticket office and entrance on the main road bridge that crosses a wide cutting. The four platforms consist of two islands both of which retain their GWR canopies and platform buildings.

Tyseley did lose use of two of its platforms for a time but were restored by Network Rail in 2008. The station is remarkably unchanged from its GWR days though the track layout has been greatly simplified [2].
London Midland 172 336 stops at Tyseley, notice the GWR canopy and buildings

Station on the right, on the left is the line to the MPD

A Cross Country service passes through the station

London Midland 172 336 arrives at the station

Birmingham Railway Museum / Tyseley Railway Works

A large motive power depot and carriage sidings were built next to Tyseley railway station to cater for GWR's Birmingham division. The steam shed was closed in 1967. A couple of years a charitable trust was set up to build and maintain a workshop for steam locomotives now entering preservation. Lease of a site at Tyseley depot was purchased, flanked either side by parts of the remaining MPD and work began on the new steam workshop in 1969 [1].

By 1972 facilities were sufficient to allow the first trial run of a steam locomotive on the main line after BR withdrawal between Tyseley and Didcot. The site is now usually known as the Tyseley Railway Works (though the Tyseley station nameboards still refer to the railway museum). The works are the base of the steam excursion operator Vintage Trains as well as being host to a number of rebuild, restoration and new build projects as well as looking after the museum's collection and other rolling stock.

Tyseley Loco Works is host to a number of new build and restoration projects

Not just steam! 86 259 at an open day

[1] Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Banbury to Birmingham (Middleton Press, 2004) map. XXVI
[2] Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham (Moor Street) (Middleton Press, 2006) fig. 94 
[3] Birmingham Railway Museum Guide Book, p. 5

East Acton (ZEA)

East Acton is a station on the London Underground Central Line in West London.
Type: Transport for London
(Central Line)
Station code: ZEA
Opened: 1920
Platforms: 2

The station was opened by the Central London Railway (later the Central Line) in 1920 [1] on its extension West out to Ealing Broadway running on the Ealing & Shepherd's Bush Railway which had been built by the Great Western Railway for freight in the First World War.

The station was built on an embankment with steep steps down to street level [2] with buildings in a Great Western style [3]. Wooden platform shelters of a traditional design were provided for passengers and these have been retained after station refurbishment.
West bound 92ts 91101 arrives at East Acton
Look down the line towards Ealing, notice the narrowness of the platform

A West bound 92ts train arrives

Ready for boarding

Two passing Central Line trains, notice the wooden shelter

[1] J. Graeme Bruce & Desmond F. Croome, The Twopenny Tube (Capital Transport, 1996) p. 27
[2] Robert Griffiths, London Underground past and present: the Central Line (Past & Present, 2007) p. 57 
[3] John Scott Morgan, London Underground in Colour since 1955 (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 45

Rock Ferry (RCY)

Rock Ferry is in the Birkenhead area of the Wirral, it is served by Merseyrail's Wirral Line on the branch to Chester and Ellesmere Port.
Type: National Rail
(Merseyrail Wirral Line)
Station code: RCY
Opened: 1862
Platforms: 4

The station was opened in 1862 by the Chester & Birkenhead Railway replacing an older station called Rock Lane. Rock Ferry became part of the expanding Mersey Railway network in 1891 [1] and was their Southern terminus and interchange with services coming up from the South.

In the 1980s the Merseyrail electric network was extended South to Hooton [2][3] and finally through to Chester and Ellesmere Port. Rock Ferry was changed to a through station. The former Merseyrail terminating platforms are now mostly used for stabling stock with only a handful of services using the platforms, everything else using the two through platforms.
Merseyrail 508 115 on a South bound service

Merseyrail 508 123 arrives at Rock Ferry

Merseyrail 508 128 arrives heading North

[1] Jonathan Cadwallader & Martin Jenkins, Merseyside Electrics (Ian Allan, 2010) p. 78
[2] John Glover, BR Diary 1978-1985 (Ian Allan, 1985) p. 118
[3] Cadwallader & Jenkins p. 78

Aberystwyth (AYW)

Aberystwyth is the terminus of the Cambrian Line and also of the Vale of Rheidol narrow gauge preserved railway (which remained part of British Rail until 1989 when it was privatised [1]).
Type: National Rail (Cambrian Line) &
Preserved Railway (Vale of
Station code: AYW
Opened: 1864
Platforms: 2

The station was built in 1864 by the Aberystwyth & Welsh Coast Railway but the main station building dates from a major rebuilding by the GWR in 1925. Nowadays much of this has been repurposed as the station has been downsized and parts have become a pub and a restaurant among other uses.

The station once had 5 platforms but only 2 remain now. One platform is used by the Vale of Rheidol Railway. The original terminus of the VoR was further away at Smithfield Road [2] but it moved next to the mainline station in 1925. Finally the VoR took over a platform which had been used by trains to Carmarthen until their withdrawal in the 1960s.

Nowadays there is a regular service from the mainline station to Shrewsbury, with a good number of the trains continuing as far as Birmingham International. The Vale of Rheidol runs services up to Devil's Bridge (in its early days the railway was known as the "Devil's Bridge Railway") through much of the year.
ATW 158 836 arrives

Buffer stops

View down the platform


Vale of Rheidol platform

Mainline station viewed from the Vale of Rheidol one

[1] Peter Johnson, Welsh Narrow Gauge (Ian Allan, 2000) p. 58
[2] Vic Mitchell, Corris and Vale of Rheidol (Middleton Press, 2009) fig. 61