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LMS Route: Birmingham New Street to Tamworth

Kingsbury Station

Kingsbury Station was one of the original stations built by the Birmingham and Derby Joint Railway (B&DJR) and opened 12th August 1839. The original bill presented to Parliament envisaged the line running through Tamworth, Kingsbury and Whitacre and on to meet the London and Birmingham Railway (L&BR) with a junction at Stechford, for B&DJR passengers to travel into the L&BR's terminus at Curzon Street. It would also run from Whitacre to Hampton-in-Arden, where it would join the L&BR for connections to London. Following a survey by George Stephenson and the personal support of Sir Robert Peel, the bill was given Royal Assent on the 19th May 1836. Due to competition from the Midland Counties Railway (MCR) and others, to outdo its rivals the B&DJR deferred the Stechford line to concentrate on building the Derby to Hampton link. The B&DJR opened on 12th August 1839 with the line into Hampton, where the trains would reverse for Birmingham. There were six stations in addition to Hampton and Derby. These were Coleshill (later renamed Maxstoke), Kingsbury, Tamworth, Walton, Burton and Willington.

From the start the joint use of Curzon Street terminus, with the L&BR, gave problems. The significant traffic delays experienced by B&DJR travellers using the L&BR's services into Birmingham and the high tolls charged made the B&DJR to very quickly change their strategy resulting in their deciding to build their own direct line to Birmingham. In 1842 the new line was opened with a new terminus at Lawley Street. This proceeded to Whitacre via Castle Bromwich, Water Orton and Forge Mills (later renamed Coleshill). The line from Whitacre to Stechford which had not been built, was consequently abandoned, and that to Hampton was reduced to single track. Strong competition between the B&DJR and the MCR for traffic, particularly of coal to London, almost drove both companies out of business. The B&DJR offered passengers a time from Derby to London of around seven hours, but when the MCR began operating it was able to make the journey in an hour less. The B&DJR consequently lowered its fares to counter this advantage but this simply resulted in a price war. In a war of 'dirty tricks', the MCR made an agreement with the North Midland Railway (NMR) for exclusive access to its passengers. In retaliation the B&DJR board opposed a bill that the MCR had submitted to Parliament. Both railway companies were in dire straits and paying minuscule dividends. In parallel, the NMR was also suffering severe financial problems arising from the original cost of the line and its buildings.

In the end George Hudson took control of the NMR and adopted Robert Stephenson's suggestion that the best outcome would be for the three lines to merge. Hudson foresaw that the directors of the MCR world resist the idea and made a secret agreement with the B&DJR for the NMR to take it over. This would of course take away the MCR's customers from Derby and the North and, when news leaked out, shares in the B&DJR rose dramatically. Hudson was able to give the MCR directors an ultimatum, and persuaded the line's shareholders to override their board and the stage was set for amalgamation. This led to the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway, the Midland Counties and the North Midland Railway merging in 1844 to form a new company, the new Midland Railway. The route to Hampton immediately lost all importance when the companies merged, since London traffic was redirected through the shorter MCR route via Rugby. Known as the Stonebridge Railway, it became a minor branch line, and struggled on as such with only one daily passenger train until 1917, when this train was withdrawn as a wartime economy measure. The line remained open until 1935 for freight, only closing when one of the original timber bridges failed. The line into Lawley Street gained importance as passengers from the North-East to the South West could join the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway (at Camp Hill station or, from 1841, Curzon Street) for onward travel.

In the early part of the 20th century, the Midland Railway (MR) decided to construct a 'cut-off' between Kingsbury and Water Orton. The MR was not prompted solely by the desire to remove the check on fast running caused by the 24 chains radius Whitacre curve. It was influenced by the need to increase the line capacity between Water Orton and Whitacre which was also the junction where the branch to Nuneaton and Wigston begins. The track capacity having already been augmented between Birmingham and Water Orton by quadrupling the number of lines, it was realised that the same measure of relief ought to be extended as far as Whitacre. Thus the idea presented itself that both objects could be better achieved by the construction of a short avoiding railway for the Birmingham and Derby traffic. Construction of the new route, which provided the equivalent of quadrupling the line, began in April 1907 and is 3 miles 68 chains in length (just short of four miles). Although the total distance saved was only 1¼ miles the level of speed which trains could maintain through the cut off helped to reduce overall journey times. An effect of the building of the railway was, as elsewhere on the line, an increase in house building in the village. Commuters could now make the journey to Birmingham's Lawley Street and Curzon Street (later New Street) stations in a much shorter time than by road. This made the village an ideal residential area for Birmingham professionals who wanted to get away from the city and live in the country.

Kingsbury station was built with two platforms opposite each other although due to the under bridge carrying the railway over the Coventry Road, and goods yard being sited adjacent to the down platform, the latter was offset slightly in the direction of Derby. The main station buildings, including the station master's house, were located on the up (Derby) line with the station master's house being sited near to the station and a small staff house (a relatively rare facility), at the Derby end of the up platform - as can be seen in image 'mrk438b'. The station, which was built by Thomas Jackson for £288, was located at the southern end of the village next to the Coventry Road railway bridge. The main station building was a single storey brick built building with a high pitched slate roof with a timber roof trust feature in its gable ends. At a later unknown date a flat roof extension was erected to the rear of the station, the front being that part of the building which faced out on to the platform. Whereas the building accommodated the main passenger facilities and comprised booking office, general and ladies waiting rooms. The down platform had just a single brick built waiting room with a slate tiled roof.

The B&DJR commenced its services with three trains each way taking two hours for the Birmingham to Derby Journey, including a reversal at Hampton. As stated above, the Curzon Street to Hampton section was owned by the L&BR which also attached coaches from Derby to its London trains. Thus for a very brief time the Kingsbury line initially provided the only route between Derby, the North East and London. Amongst the first users of Kingsbury station was the B&DJR's principal supporter, Sir Robert Peel, famous amongst many achievements for founding the Metropolitan Police. His backing had been crucial in ensuring the Act of Parliament received assent and therefore its no surprise that he ensured he held a right to stop any train in order to be set down.

On the down side of the station, just to the 'south' of the down platform, was a single looped siding with trap points at both ends. Access to the siding was via trailing points from both lines. Trailing points require the train to pass over them and then, to gain access to the yard, the train is reversed back into the siding. This is a safety feature common on most railways as facing points, e.g. when the point blades faces the oncoming train, could be split causing the wheels to come off the rails. On inspecting the 1886, 1901 and 1922 Ordnance Survey maps none show a weighbridge and office. According to the Railway Clearing House's 1929 Handbook of Railway Stations, Kingsbury station provided the general public and businesses with limited services. These were recorded as: Goods traffic and Passenger & Parcels traffic (GP). There were no goods shed nor cranage facilities provided in the goods yard so merchants would either have to man handle the loading/unloading of goods themselves or, if necessary, bring in a mobile crane. The goods yard remained open until 6th July 1964 when it was closed.

The station closed to passengers on 4th March 1968. Its recorded that the stretch of line from Kingsbury to Whitacre West Junction was closed to passenger services from 3rd May 1971 to 12th June 1980. Subsequently only a handful of daily timetabled passenger trains use this section of line.

Article in a local paper describing the appalling state of the station circa 1964

Sometime circa 1964 a commuter, Mr David Wickham, wrote 'I know Dr Beeching is a busy man, but there is one little trip that I feel he really ought to find time for ... a trip I tried myself last week. All he has to do is to catch a stopping train on the main Bristol to Derby line and get off at a cluster of ruins about five miles from Tamworth, Staffs. If he finds himself standing amid heaps of rubble on an ill-lit windswept platform, he will have arrived at Kingsbury Station. I suggest that he then takes a stiff tot of brandy. Because when he explores (he place his nerve is certain to be shaken. He may even think that he has somehow strayed Into the last (19th) century. And no wonder. For of all the dirty, dilapidated, ancient monuments to railway inefficiency, Kingsbury takes the biscuit. It Is probably the only station in the British Isles which is still lit by its original OIL LAMPS! Every night a porter has to clamber up a ladder, open the glass case and light them as they have been lit for the past 100 years. It looks very picturesque. In fact, when snow is being whipped across the platform it could make an excellent illustration for a novel . . . by Charles Dickens. The ancient lamps are not the only primitive aspect of Kingsbury Station. There is no waiting-room on the up-line platform. Only one soot-spattered, decaying old wooden seat. There is a waiting-room on the down platform, with rotting floorboards and crumbling bricks. But even if passengers on the up-line platform were brave enough to use it they would have to make a 600-yard journey.

For there is no bridge by which the line can be crossed. Any passenger wishing to transfer from one platform to the other has to trek to a spot where the main road passes under the line and approach the station from the other side. Of course, they can always shelter behind two gaunt walls and the shattered remains of what used to be a waiting-room and offices. These eyesores were created three years ago when British Railways decided that the buildings were unsafe. A demolition gang tore down most of them in one day. Then they left and have never been seen again. The station stall now work from some wooden sheds which were put up as 'temporary accommodation.' They expected to be in them only six months. The only bright spot on the whole station is the sign pointing out the 'Gents.' This is new and well lit at night. Outside this is the station's only tap. But this is frequently frozen in the winter and the porters have to scrounge water from near-by houses if they want to make a cup of tea. Even more shameful is the state of the ladles' toilet, the first building on the 'up' line platform. It is almost completely surrounded by masses of rubble. There is a small path up to it, but when the rains come this becomes just a mud track.

Not unnaturally, the station-master, Mr Frank Dainton, who has been at Kingsbury four years, gets depressed at times. It's tough for the staff and passengers here' he said. At first I was embarrassed to confess that I was stationmaster of a heap of rubble. Then I made a Joke of it, but now that is wearing thin. I have written to head office at Birmingham several times and once an inspection was carried out. Two representatives of the district manager came down, had a good laugh a the station, then went bad I have heard nothing since. We have been given no notice of closure and so far as I know the station will stay open for some years to come. Since I have been here no Improvements have been made at all. I would like to be able to give Mr Dainton hope of some relief. I would like to have a word of consolation for the 40 or so passengers, who use the station every day. But I'm afraid I cant really do this. A spokesman for British Railways Midland Region told me primly: 'like other small and little-used stations Kingsbury comes under review periodically. No definite decision has been made about its future and in view of the uncertainty as to its future no immediate plans have been made for making renovations at the station. I am not prepared to comment any further on the matter.' Mr David Wickham responded, that doesn't sound a good enough explanation to me I'm certain it won't be good enough for Dr Beeching.

As we now know Kingsbury, and other stations like it, was firmly in the sights of Dr Beeching and the station closed in 1968.

Fatal Accident at Kingsbury Station on Sunday the 16th October 1887

Miss Sarah Jane Coleman aged forty was travelling to Kingsbury from Tamworth, where she had been visiting friends. She was travelling on the 7:35 am train and had arranged to meet her sister at Kingsbury Church in order to attend the Harvest Festival Service. When she reached Kingsbury station she stopped to chat to a friend then started off across the track to reach the 'up' platform and the entrance to the station. Fred Olney, the porter, shouted to her not to cross the line but to use the new exit on the 'down' platform. Sarah was slightly deaf and although she knew he was calling to her, she couldn't make out what he was saying. She was also concerned that the engine of the train she had come in on had started up and so in her anxiety to avoid it and hear what the porter was saying, she completely failed to hear or see the express train. She had almost reached the 'up' platform and waiting room when the express caught her completely severing her right foot and partially severing her head. She died instantly with an umbrella in one hand and her bible in the other. So many people came to see the accident that the station entrances had to be closed!

The driver of the express didn't see her in time and although he applied his brakes and sounded his whistle he couldn't avoid hitting her. Another witness, George Pinfold, said that he heard no whistle and that the lady simply didn't look. The inquest vas held at the White Swan where Sarah's brother, Mountford Coleman, was told that his sister's death was accidental but could have been avoided if only she had used the right exit. The porter explained that many people were lazy and couldn't be bothered with the new exit because it was slightly longer but he also had to admit to some responsibility in the matter because not everyone was aware of it and there was no notice! The unfortunate lady was buried in Kingsbury Church and her grave can still be seen.

REMINISCENCES OF THE RAILWAY THROUGH KINGSBURY
by Les Wright, May Tizzard and Peter Barlow

Snow Bound
The bad winter of 1947 had turned into an equally bad early Spring. It was the first week in March and snow was still falling. Les Wright had been working in Birmingham and caught the 5.15 pm train home. The snow was deep and by the time he reached Kingsbury the church clock was striking 10.00 pm. The train in question got no further than Elford that night and the 5.10 pm from Birmingham to Leicester got stuck at Shustoke. Snow drifts and the problems they caused were being investigated at the time by doing trials with a jet engine mounted on a wagon. No only did it clear the snow but it also blew away the ballast

Dead Pig found on Line
During the war when Bill Hudson was the Station Master at Kingsbury, a dead pig was found on the line near Cliff. Despite attempts to find the owner, no farmers in the locality claimed it as theirs and the mystery deepened until Bill read in the paper that a prize pig had gone missing en-route to Northallerton. It had obviously escaped from its horsebox whilst aboard the 9.00 pm Birmingham to Derby train. Some time later Les was chatting to a guard from Sheffield and the subject of the pig was raised. It transpired that he was the very guard responsible for the pig and that it wasn't until the train reach Sheffield that it was missed.

Coal Wagons Runaway
On another occasion, during 1944-45 a hundred and forty eight wagons of coal that were waiting in the long road’ the length of track leading from Kingsbury Colliery at Piccadilly to the main line, broke loose down the branch line into the sidings by the junction, throwing coal everywhere and causing a considerable mess. No one was hurt.

Express Train Stopped
Up until the last war the 7:14 am Birmingham to Derby express never stopped at Kingsbury. This was changed thanks to one lady who still lives in the village and who used to have to cycle from Kingsbury to Whitacre every morning in order to catch the Leicester train into Birmingham. She would time herself by the Birmingham to Derby express and decided that it was about time that something was done to alter the situation. She wrote to the Head Office to ask whether the express could be stopped at Kingsbury and to her surprise she received a reply very quickly stating that they would consider it. Monday was chosen to try out the experiment and the train duly stopped to the amazement of the passengers who all popped their heads out of the windows to see why the train had stopped! As word got around so more and more people caught the 7:14 am express at Kingsbury.

The Old Station House
The Old Station House had a reputation for being rather small and extremely close to the edge of the platform. The Bull family lived there for many years and one of the daughter remembers that it was possible to shake hands with the engine driver from the bedroom window! She also remembers the frustration of trying to watch the television when a goods train was passing because every time a wagon passed the picture went off! Imagine the annoyance of watching a favourite programme if there were forty or more wagons passing!

We would like to take this opportunity of thanking Kingsbury History Society, and in particular Carole Haines, for their support and assistance in providing much of the information used in the description and captions found on the Kingsbury Junction and Kingsbury Station pages. We also thank John Griffiths, who worked as a porter and signal lampman at Castle Bromwich, Nuneaton and Kingsbury from 1964 to 1970, for his photographs and information. Within the captions we have also credited other people who have kindly helped supply photographs and information.

Kingsbury Station in a run down condition warranting its demolition prior to passenger services being withdrawn
Ref: mrk1803
R Shenston
Kingsbury Station in a run down condition warranting its demolition prior to passenger services being withdrawn
Close up showing one of the station's oil lamps, porters barrow with pigeon baskets and a timber storage hut
Ref: mrk1803a
R Shenston
Close up showing one of the station's oil lamps, porters barrow with pigeon baskets and a timber storage hut
View of Kingsbury station's main passenger facility  located at the Birmingham end of the up platform
Ref: mrk1120
HB Priestley
View of Kingsbury station's main passenger facility located at the Birmingham end of the up platform
Close up showing the immediate approach to Kingsbury station's building and its up platform
Ref: mrk1120a
HB Priestley
Close up showing the immediate approach to Kingsbury station's building and its up platform
Close up view showing the platform facade of Kingsbury station's main passenger building
Ref: mrk1120b
HB Priestley
Close up view showing the platform facade of Kingsbury station's main passenger building

A view of the station shortly after it had become part of British Railways after nationalisation in 1948
Ref: mrk1821
RM Casserley
A view of the station shortly after it had become part of British Railways after nationalisation in 1948
Looking from the down platform across to the station building whilst mineral wagons stand on the down line on 24th April 1952
Ref: mrk1127
R Higgins
Looking from the down platform across to the station building whilst mineral wagons stand on the down line
Kingsbury station's ramshackled up platform when viewed looking south towards Whitacre Junction in 1956
Ref: mrk1819
RS Carpenter
The station's ramshackled up platform when viewed looking south towards Whitacre Junction in 1956
Close up of the additional 'facilities' provided on the up platform for storing tools for station staff and parcels for local residents
Ref: mrk1819a
RS Carpenter
Close up of the 'facilities' provided on the up platform for storing tools for station staff and parcels for locals
Close up showing the door from the booking office and porter's room to the up platform
Ref: mrk1819b
RS Carpenter
Close up showing the door from the booking office and porter's room to the up platform

Looking towards Derby with the station staff house standing at the end of the up platform circa 1956
Ref: mrk438
RS Carpenter
Looking towards Derby with the station staff house standing at the end of the up platform circa 1956
Close up showing Kingsbury station's brick built waiting room situated on the down platform
Ref: mrk438a
RS Carpenter
Close up showing Kingsbury station's brick built waiting room situated on the down platform
Close up showing the stationmaster's very small house which aslso formed the end of the up platform
Ref: mrk438b
RS Carpenter
Close up showing the stationmaster's very small house which aslso formed the end of the up platform
View of Kingsbury Branch Sidings Signal Box seen on 9th August 1969 shortly before its closure
Ref: mrk1118
W Wright
View of Kingsbury Branch Sidings Signal Box seen on 9th August 1969 shortly before its closure
Station Master George Morgan and porter, Joe Day, hold the shield for the 'Best Kept Station Garden' competition
Ref: mrk1128
J Day
Station Master George Morgan and porter, Joe Day, hold the shield for the 'Best Kept Station Garden' competition

Looking north from the down signal gantry to Kingsbury Station Junction signal box and the station beyond
Ref: mrk1131
J Griffiths
Looking north from the down signal gantry to Kingsbury Station Junction signal box and the station beyond
Looking to Birmingham with the yet to be commissioned Shunting Frame seen on the right on 9th August 1969
Ref: mrk1121
W Wright
Looking to Birmingham with the yet to be commissioned Shunting Frame seen on the right on 9th August 1969

Trains seen at or near Kingsbury station

An ex-LNER B1 4-6-0 passes through Kingsbury  whilst at the head of an up  fully fitted express freight train
Ref: mrk1129
J Griffiths
An ex-LNER B1 4-6-0 passes through Kingsbury whilst at the head of an up fully fitted express freight train
Ex-LMS 8F 2-8-0 No 48339 passes Kingsbury's temporary accommodation whilst at the head of a Class J goods train
Ref: mrk1130
J Griffiths
Ex-LMS 8F 2-8-0 No 48339 passes Kingsbury's temporary accommodation whilst at the head of a Class J goods train
Ex-LMS 2-6-0 No 42791 at the head of a Class 'D' express freight train passing through the station on 8th March 1956
Ref: mrk439
RM Casserley
Ex-LMS 2-6-0 No 42791 at the head of a Class 'D' express freight train passing through the station on 8th March 1956
An unidentified ex-LMS 8F 2-8-0 locomotive rattles past Kingsbury Station Junction Signal Box circa 1966
Ref: mrk1798
J Griffiths
An unidentified ex-LMS 8F 2-8-0 locomotive rattles past Kingsbury Station Junction Signal Box circa 1966
Ex-LMS 4F 0-6-0 No 43940 runs tender first on a down freight service to Birmingham on 16th April 1959
Ref: mrk1119
HB Priestley
Ex-LMS 4F 0-6-0 No 43940 runs tender first on a down freight service to Birmingham on 16th April 1959

Ex-LMS 'rebuilt Royal Scot' 4-6-0 No 46141 'The North Staffordshire Regiment' leaves Kingsbury Colliery branch sidings
Ref: mrk1818
RS Carpenter
Ex-LMS 4-6-0 No 46141 'The North Staffordshire Regiment' leaves Kingsbury Colliery sidings with a coal train
BR Brush Type 4 1Co-Co1 D142 passes through the remains of Kingsbury station on 9th August 1969
Ref: mrk1122
W Wright
BR Brush Type 4 1Co-Co1 D142 passes through the remains of Kingsbury station on 9th August 1969

Ordnance Survey Maps and Schematic Plans

An 1886 25 inch to the mile OS Map showing Kingsbury station, goods yard and junction to Water Orton
Ref: mrwo1786
National Library of Scotland
An 1886 25 inch to the mile OS Map showing Kingsbury station, goods yard and junction to Water Orton
A 1901 Ordnance Survey Map showing Kingsbury Station and goods yard and the junction to Water Orton
Ref: mrk1787
National Library of Scotland
A 19201 Ordnance Survey Map showing Kingsbury Station and goods yard and the junction to Water Orton
A 1922 Ordnance Survey Map showing Kingsbury Station and goods yard and the junction to Water Orton
Ref: mrk1788
National Library of Scotland
A 1922 Ordnance Survey Map showing Kingsbury Station and goods yard and the junction to Water Orton
A 1938 1 in 25,000 Ordnance Survey Map showing the new 'Cut Off' between Kingsbury and Water Orton
Ref: mrwo1785
National Library of Scotland
A 1938 1 in 25,000 Ordnance Survey Map showing the new 'Cut Off' between Kingsbury and Water Orton
LMS railway photo
Ref: mrk1115
Midland Railway
A MR Distance Diagram showing Kingsbury station with Kingsbury Branch Junction and Kingsbury Station Junction

A plan of the Midland Railway's and the London North Western Railway's lines in the district in 1907
Ref: mrwo1756
The Engineer
A plan of the Midland Railway's and the London North Western Railway's lines in the district in 1907