Station Name: WOLVERHAMPTON LOW LEVEL

[Source: Steven Jukes]




Date opened: 1.7.1854
Location: Between Wednesfield Road and Sun Street
Company on opening: Great Western Railway
Date closed to passengers: 6.3.1972
Date closed completely: 1.6.1981 (used as Divisional Engineer's Dept. offices till May 1986)
Company on closing: British Rail (London Midland Region)
Present state: The station is largely intact including modified platforms, canopies and footbridge and since 1986 is a Grade II listed building
County: Staffordshire (now West Midlands)
OS Grid Ref: SO921989
Date of visit: May 1977, 2004 & November 2005

Notes: Although Wolverhampton Low Level Station was originally promoted as part of the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway, its Act which was passed on 15.8.1848 stated that the station should be constructed and maintained jointly to serve the Shrewsbury & Birmingham Railway, the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway, and the Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Dudley Railway.

The station opened as Wolverhampton on 1.7.1854, and was the northern terminus of the Great Western Railway's Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton line with the Birmingham, Wolverhampton & Dudley line opening on 14th November 1854; it was the most northern broad gauge station. It was designed with long wide platforms so that two trains from different directions could use the same through platforms at once. The station had Low Level was added it name in April 1856. As built the station has an overall roof built by I K Brunel (removed in 1922).

The station had an imposing entrance hall with a decorated ceiling, booking offices, railway company offices, waiting and refreshment rooms.

A massive explosion wrecked the parcels office area of Wolverhampton Low Level Station in July 1939 as the town was caught up in a wave of IRA violence which targeted towns and cities across Britain just before WW2.

The end came in the 1960's when the decision was taken to concentrate all local resources on the electrification of what is now the West Coast Mainline, which used the Birmingham New Street - Wolverhampton High Level line through the Black Country, rather than the Birmingham Snow Hill - Wolverhampton Low Level line. The last express to Paddington ran in March 1967, and the final passenger service ran on 6.3.1972 when a local DMU service to Birmingham Snow Hill was 'suspended'. With the end of the Snow Hill service the north-facing lines were removed and the line to Snow Hill was severed, leaving only the 'Loop Line' to Walsall via Willenhall attached.

Prior to final closure to passengers the station had been converted into a parcel depot which opened on 6.4.1970. This involved a partial rebuild with alterations to the platforms, and some track removal. Despite handling up to 8000 parcels a day this new used was short lived due to a changed in British Rail's parceling handling policy and the depot closed on 1.6.1981. Final closure came in May 1986 when the British Rail Divisional Engineer's Department moved out of the offices shortly after the building was given Grade II listing. With the departure of British Rail the station was purchased by Wolverhampton City Council, who preserved the site.


Computer impression of the Low Level station after conversion. From Wolverhampton City Council web site

Many potential reuses have come and gone, including a transport museum and a conference centre, and at one point the eastern platforms were threatened with demolition. It was also the original planned Wolverhampton terminus for the Midland Metro, prior to the decision to reroute into the city centre, and the so-called 'Wolverhampton St. George's' station.

In January 2005, demolition of the Wednesfield Road Bridge north of the station started, finally completely cutting off the station sealing its fate never to reopen, despite many petitions to both the City Council and to Centro, the West Midlands regional PTA.

In 2005 a £30 million mixed use scheme was proposed for the nine acre site forming part of the major regeneration of the Canalside Quarter area.

The restoration of the station will create the centre piece of the development, using the platforms as patio areas for a range of restaurants and cafes. Permission has been granted for the demolition of the eastern platform as can be seen in the picture above.

An interesting sideline arises from the closure story - the line was never closed, just 'suspended', and so theoretically, the Midland Metro is causing an illegal blockage of the line...

Other web sites: Urban Desertion, Rail Around Birmingham & Thistle 5 (Alan Perryman)

Further reading: Wolverhampton Railway Gazette No. 6
The Oxford Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway by John Boynton
Oxford Worcester & Wolverhampton: Portrait of a Famous Route - Part Two: Worcester to Wolverhampton: Pt. 2 by B. Pixton - Runpast Publishing


Wolverhampton Low Level Station in c.1905
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection




Wolverhampton Low Level Station in 1972, shortly before closure
P
hoto by Ian Baker

Wolverhampton Low Level Station looking north from Sun Street bridge in May 1977
P
hoto by Nick Catford

Wolverhampton Stations in 1901

Wolverhampton Low Level Station in 2004 showing the central through lines and the bypass lines to the right. The engine shed that used to be to the right is long gone, being demolished in the early 1970's.
P
hoto by Steven Jukes

Wolverhampton Low Level Station during partial demolition in June 2006. Part of the station is being retained and restored as part of the regeneration of the Canalside Quarter area.
Photo by Alan Perryman


The main entrance building at Wolvehampton Low Level as seen from the footbridge of the High Level station in December 2009. At this time much of the site had been developed but work was underway on the restoration of the stations canopy at its southern end. P
hoto by Paul Wright

Click here for more pictures of Wolverhampton Low Level Station

 

 

 

[Source: Steven Jukes]


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