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LMS Route: Nuneaton to Birmingham New Street
LMS Route: Birmingham New Street to Tamworth

Washwood Heath Sidings

Washwood Heath Sidings were to be found between Bromford Bridge station and Saltley station on the Birmingham to Derby line. The sidings were located at Washwood Heath because the site offered a number of considerable advantages to the Midland Railway who required a facility near Birmingham on the main Derby to Bristol line. It was very near to the centre of Birmingham, it was a level and greenfield site (in today's parlance) and was also close to LNWR and GWR routes to facilitate easy exchanges of traffic to other major conurbations in the country. The layout to the Sidings were complex and therefore I have provided below a description of the location of the different types of sidings and their respective signal boxes.

Washwood Heath Sidings was first opened by the Midland Railway to serve their needs in the Birmingham area in October 1877. Initially the MR provided the sidings on the down Derby to Birmingham line because the traffic was predominantly inward bound to the immediate area. With the ever increasing volume of traffic, the MR enlarged the down sidings fourteen years later in 1891. Further expansion of traffic, outward bound from Birmingham and the immediate locality, caused the MR to establish sidings on the up Birmingham to Derby line in January 1918. The growth of light engineering saw the region escape the worse excesses of the 1930s slump and further traffic was still being generated. This increase required the up sidings to be enlarged in 1930 followed by further enlargement to the down sidings in 1935.

Washwood Heath was in fact a marshalling yard and not a goods yard. The difference between the two was that the former was a hub with traffic arriving from many locations to be marshalled in to trains for onward traffic to other locations whilst a goods yard generally received traffic which was then unloaded for delivery to the local area. Coal in particular is a good example of the type of traffic that would originate at one location and would be moved by train to many different locations. From the coal mines they would be moved to the nearest set of sorting sidings such as Washwood Heath where they would be formed into trains or in railway parlance 'trips', either for a specific location or to another sorting siding elsewhere in the country for further sorting. Washwood Heath had a number of sidings where wagons would be marshalled in to trains for one specific location. Sidings dedicated for Lawley Street, Camp Hill, Cheltenham, Lifford, Worcester, Exchange Sidings are just a few of the names written on one of the many plans accompanying the article by Bob Essery in Midland Record Issue 26 Page 21.

Starting from Bromford Bridge, the Sidings were initially controlled by two signal boxes at Bromford Bridge, Bromford Bridge South Signal Box and Bromford Bridge North Signal Box both located on the up line although both were replaced by a signal box located on Bromford Bridge station's down platform. Between Bromford Bridge and the next signal box, Washwood Heath Junction Signal Box, on the down line was Junction sidings with five roads. Opposite these sidings off the up line were the 'Dugout Sidings with five roads, the 'Upsidings' with twenty-five roads and the 'Carriage and Wagons Sidings' with tow roads, the latter being accessed by reversing from the exit roads of the Upsidings.

For a comprehensive review of Washwood Heath Sidings complete with detailed maps and signal diagrams, readers are directed to Midland Record No 26, written and edited by Bob Essery and published by Wild Swan, ISBN 978-1-905184-39-2. In addition, Bob has written other articles on freight traffic in the Birmingham area in Midland Record, in editions, Nos 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 16, 17 and 20.

Accident at Washwood Heath on 29th January 1912

The report on the collision between two passenger trains at Washwood Heath in 1912. This document was published on 10th February 1912 by Board of Trade. It was written by Major J. W. Pringle.

"In this case, the 6.27 a.m. train from Walsall to Birmingham was standing at the down home signal for Washwood Heath No. 1 signal-box, when a following train, the 6.15 am. express from Derby to Bristol, struck it. The guard of the first train was injured, and twenty one passengers are reported t6 have complained of the effects of cuts and shock."

Schematic of the layout of Washwood Heath Sidings

Diagram of the Layout at Waswood Heath - Not to Scale


The above diagram provides a understanding of the layout of Washwood Heath Marshalling yard and its different sidings with the location of the signal boxes. Whilst some attempt has been made to indicate the size of each section this has been severely restricted by the need to make it legible hence the disparity of size between the signal boxes and the rest of the sidings. The symbols for the signal boxes are as follows:
WHJ SB is Washwood Heath Junction Signal Box
WHS Nos 1 to 5 are Washwood Heath Sidings Signal Boxes Nos 1 to 5

Looking towards Derby showing the down sidings with the Birmingham to derby line to the extreme left of the photograph
Ref: mrwhg348
NRM
Looking North to Derby showing the down sidings with the Birmingham to Derby line on the extreme left
Close up of the arrival end of the Front Fan of Washwood Heath's down sidings with the majority of wagons being used to transport coal
Ref: mrwhg348b
NRM
Close up of the arrival end of of the down sidings with the majority of wagons being used to transport coal
Close up of the Front Fan Arrival Roads with Washwood Heath Sidings No 3 Signal Box in the middle of the photograph
Ref: mrwhg348c
NRM
Close up of the front arrival roads with Washwood Heath Sidings No 3 Signal Box in the middle of the photograph
Close up of the rear most section of the seven sidings behind the Back Fan or Coal Bank and the bridge that crossed the adjacent cutting
Ref: mrwhg348d
NRM
Close up of the rear seven sidings behind the Back Fan and the bridge that crossed the adjacent cutting
Close up view of the front section of the seven sidings which were located behind Washwood Heath Siding's Back Fan or Coal Bank
Ref: mrwhg348e
NRM
Close up view of the front section of the seven sidings located behind Washwood Heath Siding's Back Fan

Looking towards Bromford Bridge from Washwood Heath  Junction Signal Box with the upsidings on the very left and on the right Junction Road sidings
Ref: mrwhg449
DJ Norton
Looking towards Bromford Bridge with the upsidings on the very left and on the right Junction Road sidings
Close up looking towards Stewarts and Lloyds factory and its exchange sidings from Washwood Heath  Junction Signal Box
Ref: mrwhg449a
DJ Norton
Close up looking towards Stewarts and Lloyds factory from Washwood Heath Junction Signal Box
Close up of an unidentified ex-LMS 2-8-0 8F locomotive ready to take forward a coal train to Bordesley sidings
Ref: mrwhg449b
DJ Norton
Close up of an unidentified ex-LMS 2-8-0 8F locomotive ready to take forward a coal train to Bordesley sidings
Looking West towards Saltley station and Washwood Heath Junction Signal Box with on the left the Old Coal Bank sidings
Ref: mrwhg626
DJ Norton
Looking towards Saltley station and Washwood Heath Junction Signal Box, on the left the Old Coal Bank sidings
Close up of Washwood Heath Junction Signal Box with on the right Washwood Heath Sidings No 5 Signal Box
Ref: mrwhg626a
DJ Norton
Close up of Washwood Heath Junction Signal Box with on the right Washwood Heath Sidings No 5 Signal Box

Looking West towards Saltley Station with the Old Coal Bank sidings on the left and on the right Washwood Heath Siding No 5 Signal Box
Ref: mrwhg627
DJ Norton
Looking to Saltley with the Old Coal Bank sidings on the left and on the right Washwood Heath Siding No 5 Signal Box
Close up showing the brick hut and behind on a raised embankment, the shunting line for the Front Fan or Goods Bank
Ref: mrwhg627a
DJ Norton
Close up of the brick hut and behind on a raised bank, the shunting line for the Front Fan or Goods Bank
View looking towards Birmingham and the West end of Washwood Heath's down sidings with the gasometers on the other side of the Birmingham to Derby line
Ref: mrwhg636
RJ Essery
Looking towards the West end of Washwood Heath's down sidings with the gasometers on the other side of the line
Looking towards Bromford Bridge with the approach roads of the up sidings on the left and to the right the raised shunting line for the Front Fan
Ref: mrwhg629
DJ Norton
Looking to Bromford Bridge with the approach roads of the up sidings on the left and to the right the Front Fan
View of the signal gantry which controlled the down passenger and No 1 down goods running lines on the Derby to Birmingham route
Ref: mrwhg641
RJ Essery
The signal gantry controlling No 1 down goods and the down passenger line on the Derby to Birmingham route

Looking towards Saltley station showing the entrance to the West end of Washwood Heath's down sidings on the left and the former LNWR bridge
Ref: mrwhg622
MA King
Looking to Saltley station with the entrance to the West end of Washwood Heath's down sidings on the left
Looking towards Aston with Aston Church Road on the left and the former LNWR bridge carrying the Aston to Stechford line on the right
Ref: mrwhg460
DJ Norton
Looking to Aston with Aston Church Road on the left and the former LNWR Aston to Stechford line on the right
Close up showing the former LNWR bridge carrying the Aston to Stechford line over the former MR Derby to Birmingham line showing the water crane located on the down side
Ref: mrwhg460a
DJ Norton
Close up of the former LNWR bridge carrying the Aston to Stechford line over the former MR Derby to Birmingham line
An elevated view taken from the former LNWR Aston to Stechford line looking East towards the down sidings with the MR Carriage & Wagon Works sidings to the right
Ref: mrwhg637
RJ Essery
An elevated view looking towards the down sidings with the MR Carriage & Wagon Works sidings to the right
Looking towards Bromford Bridge from Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Signal Box with an unidentified ex-LMS 4F 0-6-0 standing on the bank sidings
Ref: mrwhg458
DJ Norton
Looking towards Bromford Bridge with an unidentified ex-LMS 4F 0-6-0 standing on the bank sidings

Looking West towards Bromford Bridge with Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Signal Box in the centre and the bank engine leaving the sidings on the right
Ref: mrwhg452
DJ Norton
Looking West towards Bromford Bridge with Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Signal Box in the centre
Looking West towards Bromford Bridge with Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Signal Box in the centre and the bank engine leaving the sidings on the right
Ref: mrwhg452a
DJ Norton
Close up of an unidentified ex-LMS 0-6-0 4F locomotive on banking duties proceeding to assist a train to Camp Hill
Aston Church Road bridge in the foreground and the bank sidings to the left and right of the signal
Ref: mrwhg346
DJ Norton
Aston Church Road bridge in the foreground and the bank sidings to the left and right of the signal
View from Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Signal Box looking towards Saltley station with a locomotive standing at signals on the up Camp Hill line
Ref: mrwhg457
DJ Norton
View from Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Signal Box with a locomotive standing at signals on the up Camp Hill line
The approach to Washwood Heath Junction Signal Box viewed from a passing train on 12th April 1969
Ref: mrwhg1007
MA King
The approach to Washwood Heath Junction Signal Box viewed from a passing train on 12th April 1969

Signal Boxes

View of Washwood Heath Sidings No 5 Signal Box seen from the Running Road to the Dugout which ran parallel to the main Birmingham to Derby line
Ref: mrwhg630
MA King
Washwood Heath Sidings No 5 Signal Box seen from the line to the Dugout which ran parallel to the main line
Another view of Washwood Heath Sidings No 5 Signal Box with the 'Running Road to Dug Out' sidings immediately behind the signal box
Ref: mrwhg631
MA King
Washwood Heath Sidings No 5 Signal Box with the 'Running Road to Dug Out' sidings immediately behind the box
View of Washwood Heath Sidings No 6 Signal Box which controlled the access to the majority of the twenty-five lines constituting the up sidings
Ref: mrwhg632
MA King
Washwood Heath Sidings No 6 Signal Box which controlled the access to the majority of the twenty-five up sidings
View of Washwood Heath Sidings No 4 Signal Box which controlled the shunting neck and the twenty-three sidings of the Back Fan or Coal Bank
Ref: mrwhg633
MA King
Washwood Heath Sidings No 4 Signal Box which controlled the shunting neck and the 23 sidings of the Back Fan
Another view of Washwood Heath Sidings No 4 Signal Box with the Brake Van road immediately behind the box and the cooling towers in the distance
Ref: mrwhg634
MA King
Another view of No 4 Signal Box with the Brake Van road behind the box and the cooling towers in the distance

View of Washwood Heath Sidings No 3 Signal Box with No 4 signal box seen behind and the parachute water tower standing between the two
Ref: mrwhg635
MA King
Washwood Heath Sidings No 3 Signal Box with No 4 signal box behind with the parachute water tower between the two
Washwood Heath Sidings No 3 Signal Box which was located adjacent to the arrival sidings on the down lines
Ref: mrwhg1011
MA King
Washwood Heath Sidings No 3 Signal Box which was located adjacent to the arrival sidings on the down lines
Another view of Washwood Heath Sidings No 2 Signal Box with the Stowing Sidings in the background and the Down Reception lines to the left of the box
Ref: mrwhg639
MA King
Another view of No 2 Signal Box with the stowing sidings in the background and the Down Reception lines on the left
View of Washwood Heath Sidings No 2 Signal Box located at the Birmingham end of the down sidings between the departure lines of the Front and Back Fans
Ref: mrwhg638
MA King
Another view of No 2 Signal Box sited at the West end of the down sidings between the Front and Back Fans
Washwood Heath Sidings No 2 Signal Box which was located at the end of the arrival sidings for the down lines
Ref: mrwhg1012
MA King
Washwood Heath Sidings No 2 Signal Box which was located at the end of the arrival sidings for the down lines

View of Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Signal Box which was located on the up line and the opposite side of the former LNWR Aston to Stechford bridge
Ref: mrwhg640
MA King
Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Signal Box sited on the up line opposite the ex LNWR Aston to Stechford bridge
Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Signal Box was one of three boxes controlling traffic leaving Birmingham
Ref: mrwhg1008
RJ Essery
Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Signal Box was one of three boxes controlling traffic leaving Birmingham
View of the 1918 built Washwood Heath Junction Signal Box and behind, the shunting neck used to shunt wagons into the Back Fan
Ref: mrwhg625
MA King
Washwood Heath Junction Signal Box and behind, the shunting neck used to shunt wagons into the Back Fan
Close up showing the 1930 built Washwood Heath Sidings No 5 Signal Box which had the first four roads under its direct control
Ref: mrwhg627b
DJ Norton
Close up showing Washwood Heath Sidings No 5 Signal Box which had the first four roads under its direct control
An early and pre-grouping view of the interior of Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Signal Box showing the frame housing the levers at the rear of the signal box
Ref: mrwhg642
R Pitman
An early interior view of Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Signal Box showing the levers at the rear of the signal box

A rear view of the former Midland Railway signalbox, reduced to shunting frame status since 1969
Ref: mrwhg1662
P Whatley
A rear view of the former Midland Railway signalbox, reduced to shunting frame status since 1969
Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Shunting Frame with the main lines to Derby in front of the box circa 1993
Ref: mrwhg1663
Anon
Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Shunting Frame with the main lines to Derby in front of the box circa 1993
The Signal Diagram used by Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Shunting Frame to control trains arriving and departing from the sidings
Ref: mrwhg1661
P Whatley
The Signal Diagram used by Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Shunting Frame to control trains arriving and departing from the sidings

Transfer connection from the L&NWR to the Midland Railway

Looking along the former LNWR Aston Stechford route towards Aston showing Washwood Heath Signal Box protecting the junction to the connecting line to the former Midland Railway line
Ref: mrwhg456
DJ Norton
Looking along the former LNWR Aston Stechford route towards Aston showing Washwood Heath Signal Box
Another view looking towards Aston with the head shunt immediately in front of Washwood Heath signal box and the loop siding opposite running parallel with the down Aston to Stechford line
Ref: mrwhg454
DJ Norton
Another view looking towards Aston with the head shunt immediately in front of Washwood Heath signal box
Looking towards Stechford with the former LNWR Type 4 Washwood Heath Signal Box on the left and the branch to the former Midland Railway's Derby to Birmingham line
Ref: mrwhg455
DJ Norton
Looking towards Stechford with the the branch to the former MR's Derby to Birmingham line on the left
Looking from the connecting line towards the former LNWR Aston to Stechford line with Washwood Heath Signal Box on the right with the stop signal on the left
Ref: mrwhg453
DJ Norton
Looking from the branch towards the Aston to Stechford line with Washwood Heath Signal Box on the right
Looking towards Stechford on the former LNWR Aston to Stechford line which had been built as an alternative route for south bound traffic
Ref: mrwhg459
DJ Norton
Looking to Stechford on the Aston to Stechford line, built as an alternative route for south bound traffic

Trains seen at or near to Washwood Heath Sidings

Close up of an unidentified Midland Railway Class 480 locomotive is seen reversing  a train of coal wagons along Washwood Heath's No 3 Arrival Road
Ref: mrwhg348a
NRM
An unidentified MR Class 480 locomotive reverses a train of coal wagons along Washwood Heath's No 3 Arrival Road
LMS railway photo
Ref: mrwhg450
DJ Norton
Ex-MR 0-6-0 2F No 3052 emits smoke standing on the down goods line at Washwood Heath Sidings circa 1948
 Ex-LMS 4F 0-6-0 No 44260 exits Washwood Heath Sidings on a Derby bound freight on 2nd March 1963
Ref: mrwhg1006
R White
Ex-LMS 4F 0-6-0 No 44260 exits Washwood Heath Sidings on a Derby bound freight on 2nd March 1963
Ex-LMS 2-6-0 'Horwich Crab' No 42855 heads a parcels train past the exit to Washwood Heath Sidings
Ref: mrwhg1018
BWL Brooksbank
Ex-LMS 2-6-0 'Horwich Crab' No 42855 heads a parcels train past the exit to Washwood Heath Sidings
Ex-Midland Railway 0-6-0 2F No 58261 is seen passing under the ex-LNWR bridge whilst shunting at the West end of Washwood Heath's down sidings
Ref: mrwhg623
RJ Essery
Ex-MR 0-6-0 2F No 58261 passes under the ex-LNWR bridge whilst shunting the down sidings

Close up showing a down goods train approaching whilst the ex-LMS 0-6-0 4F waits for the train to pass by before buffering up to the rear
Ref: mrwhg458a
DJ Norton
Close up of a down goods train approaching whilst the 4F waits for the train before buffering up to the rear
British Railways Type 4 No D139 is seen with a brake-tender in tow needed for working loose-coupled freight trains on 5th September 1962
Ref: mrwhg1659
B Brooksbank
BR Type 4 No D139 is seen with a brake-tender in tow needed for working loose-coupled freight trains
Class 46032 heads the 10:15 Paignton to Leeds service past Washwood Heath Sidings No 2 Signal Box
Ref: mrwhg1660
D Rostance
Class 46032 heads the 10:15 Paignton to Leeds service past Washwood Heath Sidings No 2 Signal Box
British Railways Type 4 1Co-Co1 No 82 is seen passing Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Signal Box on a down express three weeks before the box was downgraded
Ref: mrwhg621
B Brooksbank
BR Type 4 1Co-Co1 D82 passes Washwood Heath Sidings No 1 Signal Box on a down express
Ex-MR 3F 0-6-0 No 43374 is seen running tender first at Washwood Heath Sidings circa 1960
Ref: mrwhg1664
M Morant
Ex-MR 3F 0-6-0 No 43374 is seen running tender first at Washwood Heath Sidings circa 1960

Ex-LMS 2-6-0 No 42857 and the bridge carrying the ex-LNWR Stechford line over the ex-MR line to Derby
Ref: mrwhg1665
M Morant
Ex-LMS 2-6-0 No 42857 and the bridge carrying the ex-LNWR Stechford line over the ex-MR line to Derby

Ordnance Survey Maps and Schematic Drawings

A 1913 25 inch to the mile Ordnance Survey Map showing the full length of Washwood Heath sidings and approaches
Ref: mrwhg1652
National Library of Scotland
A 1913 25 inch to the mile Ordnance Survey Map showing the full length of Washwood Heath sidings and approaches
An 1886 OS Map of the western approach to Washwood Heath Sidings and the LNWR connection
Ref: mrwhg1654
National Library of Scotland
An 1886 OS Map of the western approach to Washwood Heath Sidings and the LNWR connection
An 1886 Ordnance Survey Map of the Eastern approaches to Washwood Heath Sidings the MR line to Derby
Ref: mrwhg1653
National Library of Scotland
An 1886 OS Map of the Eastern approaches to Washwood Heath Sidings the Midland line to Derby
A 1903 OS Map of the westernern approach to Washwood Heath Sidings and the LNWR connection
Ref: mrwhg1656
National Library of Scotland
A 1903 OS Map of the westernern approach to Washwood Heath Sidings and the LNWR connection
A 1903 OS Map of the Eastern approaches to Washwood Heath Sidings the MR line to Derby
Ref: mrwhg1655
National Library of Scotland
A 1903 OS Map of the Eastern approaches to Washwood Heath Sidings the Midland line to Derby

A 1913 OS Map of the westernern approach to Washwood Heath Sidings and the LNWR connection
Ref: mrwhg1658
National Library of Scotland
A 1913 OS Map of the westernern approach to Washwood Heath Sidings and the LNWR connection
A 1913 OS Map of the Eastern approaches to Washwood Heath Sidings the MR line to Derby
Ref: mrwhg1657
National Library of Scotland
A 1913 OS Map of the Eastern approaches to Washwood Heath Sidings the Midland line to Derby
LMS railway photo
Ref: 1909 washwoodheath_map
Birmingham City Library
A 1909 map showing the Old Saltley works of Joseph Wright and Sons Ltd
Map showing the layout of Saltley Carriage works and the two branch lines which ran from the Midland Railway
Ref: mrwhg460
David Millin
Map showing the layout of Saltley Carriage works and the two branch lines which ran from the Midland Railway
Map showing the interchange between the ex-MR line to Derby and the ex-LNWR line to Stechford
Ref: washwoodheath_sidings
A Norton
Map showing the interchange between the ex-MR line to Derby and the ex-LNWR line to Stechford

Schematic showing the location and layout of Signal Boxes No 1 to No 4 at Washwood Heath Sidings
Ref: mrwhg1014
J Copsey
Schematic showing the location and layout of Signal Boxes No 1 to No 4 at Washwood Heath Sidings
Schematic showing the location and layout of Washwood Heath Junction and No 5 and 6 Signal Boxes
Ref: mrwhg1015
J Copsey
Schematic showing the location and layout of Washwood Heath Junction and No 5 and 6 Signal Boxes