Station Name: SUTTON PARK

[Source: Terry Callaghan]


Date opened: 1.7.1879
Location: West of Anchorage Road
Company on opening: Midland Railway
Date closed to passengers: 18.1.1965
Date closed completely: 1987
Company on closing: British Railways (London Midland Region)
Present state: Demolished. Goods shed extant.
County: Staffordshire
OS Grid Ref: SP117967
Date of visit: 27.9.2012 & 25.4.2013

Notes: Sutton Park station was opened by the Midland Railway (MR) on 1 July 1879. It was on the double-track Castle Bromwich / Water Orton and Walsall line which was authorised on 6 August 1872 as the Wolverhampton, Walsall & Midland Junction Railway (WW&MJR). The MR was a backer of the scheme, seeing it as a means of gaining access to Wolverhampton from its Birmingham and Derby main line. At Walsall the line had a direct connection with the Walsall and Wolverhampton (W&W) Railway which came into MR ownership in 1876. The line opened to all traffic on 1 July 1879.



One of the difficulties in building the line was posed by the projected route slicing through Sutton Park, an attractive area of parkland much loved by local people. Despite vociferous protests the WW&MJR purchased a strip of land through the park; however the promise of cheaper coal for the local area pacified the opponents of the scheme.

The station was located on the north-western edge of Sutton Coldfield in a cutting, to the west of Anchorage Road.

Sutton Park station was approached via a driveway from Anchorage Road that ran on the south side of the line to the down platform (Wolverhampton direction). The building was a single-storey red-brick structure, and cross-gables with prominent parapets faced each elevation; small windows were set into the gables at ‘first floor’ level to light the interior. An awning stretched between the gables, but in later years only a very short canopy remained at the south-eastern end.

The line was double track so an up platform was also provided. Being an important station on the line the up platform had a building in the same style as that on the down platform. It provided waiting accommodation and toilets. The up platform was an island with two faces the northern one being served by an up loop. A footbridge linked the platforms and passed over the up loop linking the station to a footpath on the north side of the line.

Sutton Park had goods facilities that were located on the south side of the line just to the west of the station. There was a substantial brick built goods shed as well as five sidings, cattle pens and goods offices.

A timber signal box was located at the western end of the down platform. It controlled the main line and movements into and out of the goods yard.

At the time of opening Sutton Park station was served by passenger trains between Birmingham New Street and Wolverhampton High Level via Walsall. At Walsall a reversal was necessary in both directions so that the trains could re-join the MR route.

The December 1895 timetable showed Sutton Park as having eleven up and eleven down trains Monday-to-Saturday. On Sundays there were three trains in each direction.

Up Trains December 1895 Destination Down Trains December 1895 Destination
7.31am Birmingham New Street 7.27am Wolverhampton High Level
8.27am Birmingham New Street 8.28am Wolverhampton High Level
9.15am Birmingham New Street 9.34am Walsall
10.55am Birmingham New Street 10.32am Wolverhampton High Level
12.51pm Birmingham New Street 1.37pm Wolverhampton High Level
1.58pm Birmingham New Street 2.22pm Wolverhampton High Level
4.19pm (Wednesdays Excepted) Birmingham New Street 4.34pm Wolverhampton High Level
4.28pm (Wednesdays Only) Birmingham New Street 5.35pm Wolverhampton High Level
5.53pm Birmingham New Street 6.49pm Walsall
7.32pm Birmingham New Street 7.38pm Wolverhampton High Level
8.46pm Birmingham New Street 9.17pm Wolverhampton High Level
9.43pm (Saturdays Excepted) Birmingham New Street    
10.20pm (Saturdays Only) Birmingham New Street    

From 1909 most of the trains that served Sutton Park were diverted at the northern end of their route between Walsall and Wolverhampton to run over LNWR metals via Daralaston. This was to avoid the reverse move at Walsall and was made possible because of connecting spurs between existing lines that had been put in by the LNWR in 1881.

The April 1910 timetable showed Sutton Park as having eleven up and fourteen down trains Monday-to-Friday. On Saturdays there was an extra up train and a weekday service from Wolverhampton terminated at the station. Sutton Park had three trains in each direction on Sundays.

By July 1922 the timetable showed Sutton Park as having ten up and eleven down trains Monday-to-Saturday. An early morning train from Walsall terminated at the station. On Sundays there were three trains in each direction.

On 1 January 1923 Sutton Park became part of the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS). On 5 January 1931 the LMS ceased to operate the few passenger services that ran over the former W&WR and all trains used the LNWR route between Walsall and Wolverhampton.

By the 1930s a number of trains ran between Sutton Park and Walsall only. The winter 1936/37 timetable showed ten up and fifteen down trains Monday-to-Friday as shown in the table below. Five services from Walsall terminated at Sutton Park on weekdays. Extra trains ran on Saturdays and there were two in each direction on Sundays.

Up Trains Winter 1936/7 Destination Down Trains Winter 1936/7 Destination
6.20am Terminating train from Walsall 6.28am Walsall
7.25am Birmingham New Street 7.45am Walsall
8.27am Birmingham New Street 8.35am Walsall
9.18am Birmingham New Street 11.03am Walsall
10.27am Birmingham New Street 12.51pm (Saturdays Only) Walsall
12.49pm (Saturdays Only) Terminating train from Walsall 1.04pm (Saturdays Only) Walsall
1.01pm (Saturdays Excepted) Terminating train from Walsall 1.15pm (Saturdays Excepted) Walsall
1.16pm (Saturdays Only) Terminating train from Walsall 1.23pm (Saturdays Only) Walsall
1.40pm Birmingham New Street 1.37pm Walsall
2.16pm Terminating train from Walsall 2.30pm Walsall
2.55pm Birmingham New Street 4.31pm Walsall
4.36pm Terminating train from Walsall 5.22pm Walsall
6.01pm Birmingham New Street 6.00pm Walsall
6.34pm Terminating train from Walsall 6.40pm Walsall
6.57pm Birmingham New Street 7.01pm Walsall
7.40pm (Saturdays Only) Terminating train from Walsall 7.50pm Walsall
8.22pm Birmingham New Street 8.30pm (Saturdays Only) Walsall
9.31pm (Saturdays Only) Terminating train from Walsall 9.33pm Walsall
10.15pm Birmingham New Street 10.05pm (Saturdays Only) Walsall
    11.34pm Walsall

After the United States entered the Second World War on 7 December 1941 tens of thousands of their troops came to Britain prior to engaging in the campaigns that followed. It was decided that they needed a mail handling centre in the UK. In June 1942 a team of 32 servicemen and three officers arrived in the Midlands from America and set up their first postal depot at Sutton Park station. They were billeted at the Holland Road Schools, and further staff arrived as the operation increased. By October 1942 they had built their own sorting hall which included offices, areas for parcels, letters, special delivery and a directory section which recorded the locations of every US serviceman in Europe, so their post could be forwarded to them. An additional platform capable of handling seventeen wagons was installed which ran alongside the sorting halls to ensure swift delivery and sorting.

At peak times, such as Christmas and the run up to D-Day, there were up to 800 enlisted men and 300 local women working shifts at the sorting office, as well as up to 500 German prisoners of war. Once the Allies captured Paris, that city took over as the main postal depot for the American frontline, and staffing at Sutton Park was reduced. It was then the holding depot for all post for dead or missing American servicemen, which would be returned to families. In 1945 it became the main depot for British Forces Overseas. After the war was over Royal Mail took over the mail depot for domestic purposes.

On 1 January 1948 Sutton Park became part of British Railways London Midland Region. The summer 1957 timetable showed only five trains in each direction Monday-to-Saturday. On Saturdays the 6.35am up train ran to Kingswear Devon. Between 2.15pm and 9.49pm on Sundays there was an hourly service of eight trains in each direction running between Walsall and Sutton Park. More trains ran on Sundays than mid-week presumably to carry passengers to Sutton Park for a leisure visit.

In the early 1960s DMUs were introduced to the line, but by the summer of 1961 the service had reduced to only four trains in each direction Monday-to-Friday. On Saturdays there was an extra up and two extra down services. No trains ran on Sundays.

The 1963 Reshaping of British Railways Report (the ‘Beeching Report’) recommended the withdrawal of the passenger service between Birmingham New Street and Walsall via Sutton Park. As it was down to only a handful of trains per day there was little protest, and the service was withdrawn on 18 January 1965, the last trains having run on Saturday 16 January 1965.

The line through Sutton Park was a busy freight artery providing a useful route that avoided Birmingham, and because of this it remained open. By the 1970s the signal box at Sutton Park had closed and was replaced by a ground frame. Sutton Park station continued to be served by mail trains until about 1987. The Royal Mail depot at Sutton Park continued to be used, served by road vehicles.

The passenger station building was used for a period as offices but by the mid 1990s it had fallen into dereliction. It was demolished in 1999. In April 2013 some of the sorting office buildings were demolished to create an area for housing. The original goods shed and the 1940s building were still present and Royal Mail still had a presence on the site. The station’s platforms were still discernible in May 2013, and freight trains continued to run along the line.

Tickets from Michael Stewart, timetable from Chris Totty and route map by Alan Young.

Sources:

To see other stations on the Castle Bromwich and Wolverhampton line click on the station name: Castle Bromwich, Penns, Sutton Coldfield Town, Streetly, Aldridge, North Walsall, Bentley, Short Heath, Willenhall Stafford Street,
Wednesfield and Heath Town


See also Brownhill branch stations: Walsall Wood and Brownhills

To see photos of the mail depot at Sutton park click here



A Birmingham New Street service arrives at Sutton Park in the 1930s.
Photo by E S Russell



Sutton Park station shown on a 1913 map.


Sutton Park shown on a Midland Railway plan.

Sutton Park station looking north-west from the eastern end of the down (Walsall direction) platform in 1955. Both buildings can be seen. The platforms at Sutton Park were staggered.
Photo from the John Mann collection


A class 101 two-car DMU, numbers 50158 and 50152, stands at Sutton Park up platform on 28 November 1956. It was on a test run having only recently come off the production line. The 101 was built at Saltley works in Birmingham and the line through Sutton Park was ideal for test runs.
Photo from Railway Maps and Documents Website


Looking north-west along the down platform at Sutton Park in the early 1960s. A Birmingham New Street to Walsall service formed of a two-car Park Royal type DMU is being loaded with mail sacks.
Photo by David Pearson


Sutton Park station looking north-west in 1965.
Photo by John Alsop

Looking north-west towards Walsall from the western end of the Sutton Park down platform in the summer of 1969. At this time the Midland Railway signal box still controlled movements at the station.
Photo by M A King


The down platform station building at Sutton Park seen in 1969 when the station forecourt was in use as a coal depot.
Photo by M A King

Sutton Park station looking south-east from the up platform on 2 October 1980.
P
hoto by Steve Jones


Looking north-west along the down platform at Sutton Park in March 1995.
P
hoto by Nick Catford


A mixed freight train is seen passing east through Sutton Park station in 1999.
P
hoto by Terry Callaghan

Freightliner 66 545 heads an empty ballast train through Sutton Park on its way to Mountsorrel Quarry in Leicestershire on 27 September 2012. Mountsorrel is the largest granite-producing quarry in Europe. The train is seen passing the heavily overgrown up island platform.
P
hoto by Terry Callaghan

To see more photos of Sutton Park click here

 

 

 

[Source: Terry Callaghan]




Last updated: Friday, 26-May-2017 10:06:56 BST
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