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Berkswell and Balsall Common Station

LMS Route: Rugby to Wolverhampton

Berkswell station originally opened as a gated crossing when the London & Birmingham Railway was first built and only became a station after the Board of the L&BR ordered on 9th October 1844 that 'short trains' (local passenger services) 'shall call to take up and set down passengers at Docker's Lane, Marston Green and Stechford Gates'. It is thought that these and possibly other gated crossings may well have been in use from the outset as unofficial stations. The three stations gained further recognition on 27th November 1844 when the Board ordered that there be provided platforms and booking huts. The station changed from Docker's Lane, to Berkswell on 1 January 1853 and then to Berkswell & Balsall Common on 1st February 1928 before finally reverting to Berkswell at a later yet to be determined date. David Felthouse of the Berkswell & District History Group wites 'In 1923 Balsall Parish Council complained to LMS that “Balsall Common was off the map and goods get lost”. It was agreed to rename the station ‘Berkswell and Balsall Common’; it took until 1st February 1928 to make the change. At some point, believed to be either at the end of the 1950s or beginning of the 1960s, the name reverted to ‘Berkswell’. Though it is within living memory we have been unable to ascertain a precise date. We have found the following references, which are very contradictory:
       Bradshaw
       3rd March 1957 - 'Berkswell & Balsall Common'
       January 1959 - 'Berkswell'
       Birmingham ABC Guide
       1958, 1959 and 1960 'Berkswell & Balsall Common'
       Toby Cave (Royal Leamington Spa Historian)
       1955 Change back to 'Berkswell' taken from engineering records stated in 'Railway Stations in Great Britain and        Chronology' by Michael Quick 4th edition revised 2009. Published by Railway & Canal History Society.
       London to Birmingham Railway” by John Boynton
       Picture taken 13th September 1959 showing 'Berkswell & Balsall Common'.

The name of the road leading to the station also changed, from Dockers Lane to Station Road. John Boynton noted in his book 'The London & Birmingham Railway between Birmingham and Coventry' (Mid England Books 2004) that a Dockers Close still existed near to the station in 2004. When first built Berkswell station was provided with two platforms which were staggered diagonally opposite each other with the up platform being on the Coventry side of the level crossing. The station master's house, which was initially in all probability the crossing keeper's house, was sited north of the level crossing next to the down platform. The signal cabin was located on the down side of the station on the Coventry side of the level crossing. In addition to the level crossing, the L&BR had provided a narrow and low underbridge to allow farm traffic to pass from one side of the line to another without having to use the level crossing. Berkswell commenced operating a goods service in 1865 with its goods yard sited on the down line adjacent to the signal cabin which itself was located on the Coventry side of the level crossing. The goods yard was small being one siding for open wagons which was accessed via two loop lines. A weighbridge and office appears to have been provided.

On 2nd March 1884 the Berkswell to Kenilworth branch line opened. Initially it was limited to goods traffic but later, on 2nd June 1884, access was extended to passenger services. In the early 19th century Berkswell's platform configuration changed from being staggered to having both platforms opposite each other. This resulted in the up platform being rebuilt using timber framing for the platform with standard LNWR timber buildings being positioned on the Birmingham side of the level crossing. A steel passenger footbridge was erected between the two platforms was erected at a later unknown date. It is thought that the up platform was moved due to the problems associated with the increasing length of local passenger trains which used non-corridor carriages. It was becoming increasingly necessary at stations with short platforms for local trains to draw forward so that passengers at the rear of the train could alight. On direct Birmingham to Leamington services using the Berkswell to Kenilworth branch this manoeuvre caused the front of the train to foul the down Coventry to Birmingham line. Moving the up platform to the Birmingham side of the level crossing overcame this problem. The Berkswell to Kenilworth branch closed to passenger services on 18th January 1965 and to goods services on 17th January 1969. The LNWR Society stated on their website that the Berkswell to Kenilworth branch was planned by the LNWR as an alternative route in competition with the GWR between Leamington and Birmingham. In 1910 six trains used the line on weekdays, two being Rugby to Birmingham via Leamington services but just one service remained in existence under the authority of British Railways. A greater use was made by freight (as it avoided Coventry and the WCML at Rugby) until it closed completely in 1969. The original route between Leamington and Coventry was used after closure and cross-country trains still use this single line.

Reg Kimber recalls, 'the siding handled incoming wagons of oxygen cylinders from British Oxygen for the nearby RAF base at Honiley. I did most of my national service at Honiley and I sometimes had to help the stores lads on their weekly trip to the siding. We took empty cylinders down and brought full ones back. It was hard work but it didn't take long and once the job was done we would settle down out of sight in the open wagon and partake in refreshment purchased from the local shop. We would depart for the camp just in time to arrive outside the airmen's mess where we would be first in the queue for lunch. The timing was always impeccable'. John Fancote writes, 'I have worked in the Civil Engineers Department on the railway since 1972, mostly on bridge works. Looking at the photos of Berkswell Station, reminds me, that when BR rebuilt the Up platform some years ago, we built a temporary platform on the site of the original one. I had no idea that it had been there'.

Select an image below to view the larger version with accompanying text:

Views of the station as first built with staggered platforms

A coloured view of the original Berkswell station looking towards Birmingham with the first up platform on the right
Ref: lnwrberk2353
J Alsop
A coloured view of the original Berkswell station looking towards Birmingham with the first up platform on the right
View of Berkswell station looking towards Birmingham showing the iron plating protecting the underbridge
Ref: lnwrberk2354
J Alsop
View of Berkswell station looking towards Birmingham showing the iron plating protecting the underbridge
Close up showing Berkswell's down platform which accommodated the booking office and waiting rooms
Ref: lnwrberk2354a
J Alsop
Close up showing Berkswell's down platform which accommodated the booking office and waiting rooms
LMS railway photo
Ref: lnwrberk1313
WA Camwell
Looking towards Birmingham showing Berkswell station's signal cabin and down platform from the up platform
Close up of Berkswell showing the signal box which was located adjacent to the siding and Truggist Lane underbridge
Ref: lnwrberk1313a
WA Camwell
Close up of Berkswell signal cabin which was located adjacent to the siding and Truggist Lane underbridge

Close up showing the two platforms staggered either side of the level crossing and the under-bridge with the station master's house on the left
Ref: lnwrberk1313b
WA Camwell
Close up of the platforms and the level crossing and the under-bridge with the station master's house on the left
Looking south towards the Kenilworth branch junction which is curving away to the left alongside the goods yard
Ref: lnwrberk2356
J Alsop
Looking south towards the Kenilworth branch junction which is curving away to the left alongside the goods yard

Views of the station after the relocation of the up platform

Looking towards Birmingham with the up platform now re-sited opposite the down platform where the main passenger facilities were located
Ref: lnwrberk524
J Alsop
Looking towards Birmingham showing the up platform has now been re-sited opposite the down platform
Looking across the level crossing towards the station master's house with the underbridge on the left and the footbridge on the right
Ref: lnwrberk1309
Coventry Library Local Studies
Looking across the level crossing towards the station master's house with the underbridge on the left
Looking towards Birmingham with the replacement timber constructed up platform and passenger building on the right
Ref: lnwrberk525
P Hopkins
Looking to Birmingham with the replacement timber up platform and passenger building on the right
Close up view showing the approach to Berkswell which because there was a bridge as the track curved required duplicate and very tall signals
Ref: lnwrberk525a
P Hopkins
Close up of the approach to Berkswell and the duplicated tall signals needed because of the bridge on the curve
Close up view of the up platform building which accommodated the general waiting room, ladies waiting room and toilet and the gentlemenís toilet
Ref: lnwrberk525b
P Hopkins
Close up of the up platform building which accommodated a general waiting room as well as a ladies waiting room

Looking south towards Coventry from the Birmingham end of Berkswell station's down platform
Ref: lnwrberk2355
J Alsop
Looking south towards Coventry from the Birmingham end of Berkswell station's down platform
Looking towards the station from the Balsall Common side of the level crossing with the underbridge clearly shown on the right
Ref: lnwrberk1555
DS Norton
Looking towards the station from the Balsall Common side of the level crossing with the underbridge on the right
Close up showing Berkswell's level crossing gates closed and a Morris Minor van using the underbridge
Ref: lnwrberk1555a
DS Norton
Close up showing Berkswell's level crossing gates closed and a Morris Minor van using the underbridge
Looking towards Coventry from the Birmingham end of the down platform showing the passenger footbridge and the trailing crossover
Ref: lnwrberk1556
DS Norton
Looking towards Coventry from the Birmingham end of the down platform showing the trailing crossover
Looking from the footbridge towards Coventry with main line on the left whilst the branch to Kenilworth is seen curving away to the right
Ref: lnwrberk1554
DS Norton
Looking from the footbridge towards Coventry with main line on the left and the Kenilworth branch to the right

Close up showing Berkswell signal cabin and to its right the entrance to the goods yard and the weighbridge and office
Ref: lnwrberk1554a
DS Norton
Close up of Berkswell signal cabin and to its right the entrance to the goods yard and the weighbridge
Looking towards Birmingham from the passenger footbridge showing the two sets of signals on the right
Ref: lnwrberk2357
B Brooksbank
Looking towards Birmingham from the passenger footbridge showing the two sets of signals on the right
View from the level crossing of the station with overhead gantries already erected in advance of electrification
Ref: lnwrberk2794
Berkswell History Group
View from the level crossing of the station with overhead gantries already erected in advance of electrification
View looking towards Berkswell of Lavender Hall Lane road overbridge on A452 seen on 27th June 1961
Ref: lnwrberk3013
DS Norton
View looking towards Berkswell of Lavender Hall Lane road overbridge on A452 seen on 27th June 1961
Berkswell Station's up home signals, the one on the left for Tile Hill and the one on the right for Kenilworth Junction seen on 2nd October 1961
Ref: lnwrberk3010
DS Norton
The up home signals, the one on the left for Tile Hill and the one on the right for Kenilworth Junction

Miscellaneous

View of a BR Berkswell & Balsall Common station totem purchased by the Berkswell & District History Group
Ref: lnwrberk3015
Berkswell History Group
View of a BR Berkswell & Balsall Common station totem purchased by the Berkswell & District History Group
Photograph showing one of the several British Railways totems which displayed the station's name
Ref: lnwrberk2795
Berkswell History Group
Photograph showing one of the several British Railways totems which displayed the station's name
xx
Ref: lnwrberk3012
Berkswell History Group
Front of the BR Third Class Cheap Day Ticket from Marston Green to Berkswell dated 24th March 1955
Reverse of the BR Third Class Cheap Day Ticket from Marston Green to Berkswell dated 24th March 1955
Ref: lnwrberk3011
Berkswell History Group
Reverse of the BR Third Class Cheap Day Ticket from Marston Green to Berkswell dated 24th March 1955
Front of a Second Class ticket from Berkswell to Balsall Common to Mortehoe via New Street & Bristol dated 18th August 1967
Ref: lnwrberk3023
Berkswell History Group
Front of a Second Class ticket from Berkswell to Balsall Common to Mortehoe via New Street & Bristol

Rear of a Second Class ticket from Berkswell to Balsall Common to Mortehoe via New Street & Bristol dated 18th August 1967
Ref: lnwrberk3022
Berkswell History Group
Rear of a Second Class ticket from Berkswell to Balsall Common to Mortehoe via New Street & Bristol

Locomotives and trains seen at Berkswell Station

Ex-LNWR 4-4-0 George V No 1504 'Boarhound' class is seen at the head of an up express still in LNWR livery and prior to be renumbered No 5432 by the LMS
Ref: lnwrberk530
WL Good
Ex-LNWR 4-4-0 George V class No 1504 'Boarhound' is seen at the head of an up excursion still in LNWR livery
Ex-LNWR 2P 4-4-2T Precursor Tank No 6796 is seen on a down Rugby to Birmingham local passenger service near Berkswell
Ref: lnwrberk526
WL Good
Ex-LNWR 2P 4-4-2T Precursor Tank No 6796 is seen on a down Rugby to Birmingham local passenger service
Ex-LNWR 3P 4-4-0 Precursor class No 5306 'Lang Meg' is seen on an up Euston to Blackpool express service north of Berkswell on 11th August 1928
Ref: lnwrberk534
P Hopkins
Ex-LNWR 3P 4-4-0 Precursor class No 5306 'Lang Meg' is seen on an Euston to Blackpool excursion
Ex-LNWR 3P 4-4-0 Precusor class No 5231 'Ganymede' is seen at the head of an up express as it approaches Berkswell station
Ref: lnwrberk528
WL Good
Ex-LNWR 3P 4-4-0 Precusor class No 5231 'Ganymede' heads an up express as it approaches Berkswell station
LMS 2-6-4T 4P Stanier tank No 2568 is seen standing at an all stations from Birmingham to Coventry passenger service
Ref: lnwrberk1292
LGRP
LMS 2-6-4T 4P Stanier tank No 2568 is seen with an all stations Birmingham to Coventry passenger service

LMS 4P 4-4-0 Compound No 1152 is seen at the head of a Brighton to Birmingham down express near Berkswell on 11th August 1928
Ref: lnwrberk533
WL Good
LMS 4P 4-4-0 Compound No 1152 is seen at the head of a Brighton to Birmingham down express near Berkswell
LMS 4P 4-4-0 Compound No 1167 enters the confines of Berkswell as it passes through on an Birmingham to Euston express
Ref: lnwrberk531
P Hopkins
LMS 4P 4-4-0 Compound No 1167 passes Berkswell on an Birmingham to Euston express
Ex-LNWR 4P 4-6-2T No 2670 is seen still wearing LNWR livery at the head of a local passenger service prior to be renumbered No 6955 by the LMS
Ref: lnwrberk527
WL Good
Ex-LNWR 4P 4-6-2T No 2670 is seen at the head of a local passenger service still wearing its LNWR livery
LMS 4MT 2-6-4T No 2593 on a Rugby to Birmingham local passenger train as it passes the junction with the Kenilworth branch
Ref: lnwrberk535
J Hyde
LMS 4MT 2-6-4T No 2593 on a Rugby to Birmingham local passenger train as it passes Kenilworth junction
Ex-LMS 4-6-0 5MT No 45020 is seen passing Berkswell's up home signals with an ordinary passenger train for Coventry on 15th October 1951
Ref: lnwrberk3014
DS Norton
Ex-LMS 4-6-0 5MT No 45020 is seen passing Berkswell's up home signals with an ordinary passenger train for Coventry

Ex-LMS 4-6-0 No 46144 'Honourable Artillery Company' on the 4:30pm Euston to New Street service
Ref: lnwrberk1294
M Mensing
Ex-LMS 4-6-0 No 46144 'Honourable Artillery Company' on the 4:30pm New Street to Euston service
A two-car Metro-Cammell DMU arrives with the 4:05pm Rugby to Birmingham service on 13th September 1959
Ref: lnwrberk2796
M Mensing
A two-car Metro-Cammell DMU arrives with the 4:05pm Rugby to Birmingham service on 13th September 1959

Maps relating to Berkswell & Balsall Common station

A 1930s LMS Control strip map showing the route between Berkswell Junction and Kenilworth Junction signal box
Ref: lnwrmap115
M Hollick
A 1930s LMS Control strip map of the route between Berkswell Junction and Kenilworth Junction signal box