The London & North Western Railway

Coseley railway station is on the Stour Valley Line, which was originally known as the Birmingham, Wolverhampton & Stour Valley Railway. Construction of the line was authorised under the terms of an Act of Parliament passed on the 3rd August, 1846. The line had seven intermediate stations, located at Smethwick, Spon Lane, Oldbury, Dudley Port, Tipton, Coseley, and Ettingshall Road. After the service had been established, stations were added at Bushbury, Albion (near Oldbury), Monument Lane, and Monmore Green.

It became known as the Stour Valley Line because of a projected line from Smethwick to Stourbridge, which never materialised. Wolverhampton High Level Station and the section to Bushbury belonged jointly to the London & North Western Railway and the Shrewsbury & Birmingham Railway, under the terms of an Act of Parliament passed on the 9th July, 1847. This gave both railway companies running powers over the line, in which they had both equally invested.

Canals, railways and Birmingham New Road.

The line was to start at Birmingham New Street station, which was initially known as Navigation Street Station, until its name changed on the timetables in November 1852. The route was to run from the London & Birmingham line at New Street Station to Bushbury, where it would join the Grand Junction Railway.

The chief engineers were Robert Stephenson and William Baker. Construction quickly began at the Birmingham end, on the 845 yard tunnel into New Street Station. The line was completed on the 21st November, 1851. It had taken just over four years to build. The Shrewsbury & Birmingham Railway expected to start running trains into Birmingham in December 1851, but the London & North Western had other ideas.

On the 10th January, 1851, the Shrewsbury & Birmingham signed a traffic agreement with the London & North Western’s rival, the Great Western Railway, which led to an offer to amalgamate in 1856 or 57. The London & North Western heard about this and so invoked their 1847 agreement and denied access to the Shrewsbury & Birmingham Railway, which led to a bitter dispute.

Agreement was finally reached in 1854 and Shrewsbury & Birmingham trains started to run to Birmingham, but the London & North Western had set a high fixed rent for S & B trains using New Street Station. The S & B finally joined the Great Western Railway on the 1st September, 1854, but continued to run their trains on the Stour Valley line until November of that year.

On the 1st February, 1852, the line was opened for London & North Western goods, and from the 1st March, 1853, a half hourly service started from Wolverhampton to Birmingham which was designed to prevent the Shrewsbury & Birmingham from gaining access. The London & North Western claimed that due to the frequent service it would now be dangerous for Shrewsbury & Birmingham trains to run alongside their own.

Once the Shrewsbury & Birmingham had departed, the line became a great success. In the 1870's as many as 120 passenger trains and 50 goods trains ran daily in and out of Wolverhampton.

Coseley railway station.

A close up view of the old part of Coseley railway station.

The original Deepfields and Coseley station, as marked on the 1884 and 1901 Ordnance Survey maps was located on the northern side of the railway bridge over Darkhouse Lane. In 1902 it moved to its current location. In 1896 the station master was William Tatton, and in 1912 it was William Lyons. The agent in 1912 was Benjamin George Firkin.

The line became a great success. By the 1870s around 120 passenger trains and 50 goods trains ran daily in and out of Wolverhampton High Level Station.

An old London & North Western Railway postcard.

The Great Western Railway

The other railway that passed through Coseley was run by the Great Western Railway, although it started life as part of the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway, or ‘old worse and worse’ as it was known.

The Great Western Railway was originally founded to provide a route from Bristol to London, using broad gauge track, as developed by its chief engineer I. K. Brunel. It wasn't long before its sights turned northwards due to the success of its standard gauge rivals, the Grand Junction Railway, and the London & Birmingham Railway.

The GWR actively encouraged any broad gauge railway company that had set its sights on alternative routes to the midlands and the north. One such company was the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway. The GWR agreed to provide three and a half percent of its capital.

On the 4th August, 1845 a Bill was passed that authorised the company to construct a line from the Oxford & Rugby Railway at Wolvercot Junction to Worcester, Stourbridge, Dudley, and Wolverhampton, with a branch to the Grand Junction Railway at Bushbury. Other branches included lines to Kingswinford, and Tipton Basin.

The Bill was passed in the middle of the gauge wars and so it stated that the track was to be mixed gauge from Abbotswood near Worcester, northwards. It also stated that if the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton failed to complete the line, the Great Western should either lease the line, or purchase the company and complete the line itself. The Bill also stated that Wolverhampton Low Level Station was to be constructed and run jointly with two other companies; the Shrewsbury & Birmingham Railway and the Birmingham, Wolverhampton & Dudley Railway.

Brunel's estimate for the cost was one and a half million pounds, but it was quickly realised that it would actually cost an extra million pounds or so. Due to this, the Great Western increased their share to four percent.

Engine No. 21.  Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway.

Progress was slow and by the 1st June, 1849 all of the available money had been spent. Only the middle section of the line was anywhere near complete, so the Railway Commissioners ordered the Great Western to complete the line. They refused, and a legal battle started. Meanwhile the loyalty of the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton towards the Great Western began to decline. An agreement with the London & North Western and the Midland Railway was signed on the 21st February, 1851, which allowed those companies to finish the line themselves, and then run on it.

The Great Western was furious and had the agreement made void, then offered the company a similar deal on their own terms. The Great Western leased the line, but the ungrateful Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton made approaches to the London & North Western to reach Wolverhampton on the Stour Valley line with a junction at Tipton. The GWR protested to Parliament, who refused to sanction such a thing and threatened the company with heavy penalties unless the line reached the Low Level station and Cannock Road Junction by September 1853.

The section from Evesham to Stourbridge opened on the 3rd May, 1852, but as little money was available, six second-hand locomotives had to be acquired. The Stourbridge to Dudley section opened to goods traffic on the 16th November, 1852, and to passenger traffic on the 20th December, 1852. By this time the company had ordered twenty locomotives from R and W Hawthorn Limited, at Newcastle upon Tyne.

On the 4th June, 1853, the section from Wolvercot Junction and Evesham opened, and on the 1st December, 1853, the line opened between Dudley and Tipton. Tipton was later called Tipton Five Ways to avoid confusion with the station in Owen Street.

There were four intermediate stations between Tipton and Wolverhampton: Princes End, Daisey Bank (later called Daisy Bank), Bilston, and Priestfield. The line was eventually finished in July 1853, and opened on 1st December.

By August 1862, eleven trains ran daily from Wolverhampton to Oxford, the fastest time being 3hrs 25mins. There were also trains to Evesham, Worcester and Dudley. In 1896 the station master at Daisy Bank was Clement Mole. In 1912 it was William Tomalin. The station master at Princes End in 1912 was Raymond W. Hermon.

Tipton Five Ways Station eventually closed in 1962, though the line remained open until 22nd September, 1968. The station buildings were soon demolished.

Return to
  Return to
the Contents
  Proceed to