Notes: The Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway (OW&WR) was authorised by Act of Parliament on 7 August 1845 as an 89-mile mixed-gauge railway (7ft and 4ft 8½in) from Oxford to Wolverhampton via Worcester.
The Great Western Railway (GWR) subscribed to the building in their efforts to reach further north and into the area dominated by the London & North Western Railway (LNWR). The chief engineer of the project, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, estimated the cost of construction to be £1.5 million, a hefty sum in the 1840s. By the late 1840s construction was painfully slow and costs were starting to overtake the original estimate, and the OW&WR was forced to re-evaluate the total cost of the project. It was found that the final cost would be nearer £2.5 million to complete the line and, following a skirmish with an unpaid contractor and some 2,000 of his men at Mickleton, Gloucestershire in which Brunel amassed an ‘army’ of 2,00 navvies for the stand-off, the GWR started to lose enthusiasm towards the project. By 1850 construction had ground to a halt and years of legal action by the OW&WR against the GWR had failed to complete the line. A London solicitor, John Parson, became a majority shareholder in the OW&WR in 1850 and would be the instrumental driving force to complete the project. Having drawn a blank with the GWR for over 12 months he approached the LNWR and the Midland Railway (MR) to complete the line; it was a step too far for the GWR. No sooner had the LNWR and MR signed the agreement of 21 February 1851 to complete the construction, when the GWR had the agreement declared void in the Court of Chancery and subsequently offered the OW&WR a similar agreement. The Stourbridge to Dudley section was finally completed and opened on 16 November 1852 to goods, and 20 December 1852 to passengers. The line did not reach Wolverhampton until April 1854 for goods and 1 July for passengers. This was mainly due to legal wrangling between the OW&WR and the GWR over the issue of mixed-gauge track running all the way to Wolverhampton and the doubts over the safety of several bridges along the route.
On 14 June 1860 the OW&WR amalgamated with the Newport, Abergavenny & Hereford Railway (NA&HR) and the Worcester & Hereford Railway (W&HR) to form the West Midlands Railway (WMR) and on 1 August 1863 the WMR would be amalgamated into the GWR.
The station at Netherton opened on 2 December 1852 when the passenger service began on the line. Information regarding the station layout has not come to light despite extensive research. After just over 25 years of operation the station would close as it obstructed the path and junction of the Bumble Hole line. The station closed on 1 March 1878 in conjunction with the opening of the new Netherton station, later renamed Blowers Green, some 17 chains to the north. No evidence remains of the station or the junction, the latter obliterated by the building of industrial units and the Dudley by-pass. Any information regarding the station layout would be gratefully received.
Route map by Alan Young.
- A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain, Volume 7 The West Midlands , by R Christiansen, David & Charles 1973.
- Lost Lines, Birmingham and the Black Country , by N Welbourne, Ian Allan 2002.
- Railway Passenger Stations in Great Britain a Chronology, by M Quick, Railway & Canal Historical Society 2009
To see other stations on the former OW&WR line click on the station name:
Blowers Green & Dudley