Much of the information on this and other webpages of Warwickshire Railways is derived from articles or books listed in our 'bibliography'.
A short link descending from the Midland Railway to the Birmingham & Oxford Junction Railway at Bordesley was opened as a mixed gauge single track branch line on 1st November 1861, with the broad gauge third rail being subsequently removed on 1st April 1869. During this early period exchange traffic on the branch appears to have been light and there is no reference to working practices over the branch in the Service Time Table of October 1882. In the Service Time Table of July 1904 however, there are details including; a Schedule with ten regular weekday Trips each way between the Midlands Washwood Heath Marshalling Yard and the Great Westerns Bordesley Junction Yard, also an Engine roster detailing two pairs of Bordesley Junction shunting engines to provide 24 hour cover by two engines in the yard. Amongst their other duties one pair of engines is detailed to clear the Midland Reception Roads, marshal Up traffic and prepare trains for exchange to the Midland on the Up side of the yard, while the second pair of engines is detailed to assist in the shunting, marshal Down traffic and cross Midland traffic from the Down to Up side when required (see red areas in 'gwrbj2657.htm').
By 1916 increased traffic requirements meant that there were twenty-three regular exchange Trips in each direction between Midlands Washwood Heath Marshalling Yard and the Great Westerns Bordesley Junction Yard and more detailed working instructions were provided in the Service Time Table issued in July of that year. These included; mention of the Midland Railway Pilotman and the restrictions placed on Midland banking engines entering Bordesley Junction Yard. The working instructions became even more detailed over time and a transcript from the Great Western Railway Appendix to the Service Time Table issued in March 1921 can be found at bordesley-appendix1921. Here the instructions identify that the single line branch is worked by a Midlands Pilot Guard, except between 6am on Sunday and 3am Monday when it is worked by Train Staff and that at this time there were twenty regular exchange Trips in each direction.
After the Grouping, operations became regularised with standard single line electric key token instrumentation installed between Bordesley Junction (LMS) Signal Box and a lineside box at the Great Western end of the single line. The Great Western Railway also had a designated Train Meeter who was responsible for accepting and despatching the exchange trains. A transcript from the Great Western Railway Appendix to the Service Time Table issued in March 1929 can be found at bordesley-appendix2
The short single line branch became of strategic importance during the Second World War when it was necessary to have flexible interconnectors between the Great Western and LMS railway systems to increase the networks resilience in the event of normal routes being blocked after German air-raids. At the start of September 1940 approximately 950 wagons were being exchanged daily along this single line branch, but this average fell by 40% to 680 wagons in December 1940 as a result of the heavy air-raids at the end of that year. The exchange line was therefore made double track, resignalled and the LMS Bordesley Junction Signal Box rebuilt within a concrete blast wall as additional protection (see 'mrbhm_sa1894'). The construction work was completed by 13th July 1941 and in 1943 there were 23 regular trips each way between Washwood Heath (LMS) Yard and Bordesley Junction (GWR) Yard. The double track branch line was now worked by conventional permissive block and bell instruments and a transcript from the British Railways (Western Region) Appendix to the Service Time Table issued in April 1953 can be found at bordesley-appendix1953.
Bordesley Junction - The GWR's connection
Bordesley Station - the station which existed for just one day - on the 14th October 1852
Brunel's Broad Gauge Birmingham and Oxford Junction had only opened a few weeks earlier into the then 'Birmingham Station' at Monmouth Street (later Great Charles Street). Queen Victoria and Albert had travelled by train southwards from Balmoral the day before stopping at Bangor en-route to see Stevenson's new tubular bridge over the Menai Straits before continuing to Shrewsbury for lunch. After their journey continued toward Birmingham which in her own words she described...'Shortly after 3 we stopped at Wolverhampton where we entered the "Iron District", one of the most dreadful parts of the country one can imagine, which I had seen many years ago, but which was quite new to Albert.' It was in Wolverhampton that the LNWR took over. The LNWR train passed through New Street and left the Town passing Curzon Street station before joining the Midland line down past the Blue's ground to climb the Bordesley incline toward Camp Hill. At the point where the Midland line passed over the cast iron bridge above the Oxford line the Royal train halted. She described this in her journal: 'At Camp Hill, near Birmingham, we joined the Great Western line, quite a new branch, & changing carriages..' In fact Brunel and his trusty engineers Robert Pearson Brereton and Henry Wakefield had constructed a temporary structure consisting of platforms on both lines with steps down to the waiting GWR train below which, unusually, was standing on the Down line nearby where points were installed* to allow the Royal train to cross to the Up line for the journey southwards....'We passed by Warwick, getting a glimpse of the Castle, Banbury, where we again stopped, Didcot, & Reading, reaching Windsor, in perfect safety a little before 7.'
However this wasn't the first time this part of Birmingham received Royal comment as three years earlier the Royal Train passed this way en route for Cheltenham though before work on this section of the Oxford and Birmingham railway had been started. This again from her journal for Saturday 29th September 1849 for a similar journey from Balmoral though via Newcastle with an overnight stop at Derby: 'A very wet morning. Slept well & got up early, starting at 8am. Lord Cathcart (commanding in this district) & his son, Mr Strutt (the High Sheriff) & Mr Cavendish, paid their respects before we left. The first place we stopped at was Birmingham, where I had not been for 19 years & where no sovereign had visited since Charles the Second. The station is not in the town, & we stopped on a bridge above(my underline) the streets.' [This my bones tell me is the long since closed Camp Hill station which used to be the terminus of the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway and where her onward journey to Cheltenham would begin].
Bordesley Junction - The Midland Railway's connection
The following is a transcript of the Special locational instructions in the Appendix to the 1921 Service Time Table for Bordesley Junction and Station (pages 107 - 108):
5 Working of Midland Trains to and from Bordesley Junction Yard
6 Mode of Dealing with Exchange Traffic.
From about 3:00am Sunday until 3:50am Monday, the Trips will work in and out as required.
The following is a transcript of the Special locational instructions in the Appendix to the 1953 Service Time Table for Bordesley Junction and Station (pages 109 - 110):
Working of Up and Down Branch Lines between Bordesley South (WR) and Bordesley Junction (LMR) Signal Boxes
5 Working of LMR Trains to and from Bordesley Junction Yard
Before a LMR train is crossed from the Down Yard to the Down
LMR Branch Line at Bordesley South, the Signalman must obtain permission from
the Western Region Train Meeter after complying with the Permissive Block
6 Mode of dealing with Exchange Traffic
The LMR work the traffic between their Region and Bordesley Junction.
(a) The trains are worked over the Branch Line by LMR engines and trainmen, but they are controlled by the Western Region staff in entering and leaving Bordesley Junction Yard.
(b) The LMR trains must be met on arrival at the Western
Region end of the Branch line by the WR Train Meeter and will be piloted
through the Western Region Yard by the Under Shunter working with him.
(c) The WR Train Meeter must advise the Bordesley South Signalman immediately the Brake Van complete with tail lamp of an Up Train has passed inside the Up Branch Home Signal.
(d) A clear reception must be ensured, and every endeavour taken to avoid incoming LMR trains being brought to a stand at the Stop Signal controlling the entrance to the yard.
(e) Reception Sidings Shunting Engine should clear all Reception Sidings before going to Shed unless Nos 1, 2 or 4 Engines are able to maintain a clear road for each LMR train during the time the Reception Sidings Engine is not out.
(f) The LMR Engine will be detached and crossed at the South end of the Reception Sidings Yard to No 18 Line, where it will run to the North end to pick up traffic or empties out of the Up Sidings (upon which the outgoing traffic is placed) for LMR Line, or crossed to the Down Sidings for return loading.
(g) Immediately a LMR outwards train is ready to leave the Up or Down Yard, the WR Train Meeter must advise the Bordesley South Signalman in order that permission can be obtained for the train to draw on to the Down Branch Line in readiness to set back on to the Brake Van on the short Loop Siding adjacent to No 17 Reception Siding.
(h) LMR 'Outwards' Trains must not be held for traffic arriving late, but despatched on time with the wagons already coupled up to the Engine.