WOLVERHAMPTON LOW LEVEL

PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICES

[Source: Terry Callaghan, Steven Jukes and Paul Wright]


The first passenger trains to serve Wolverhampton Low Level were those of the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway (OW&WR). They were broad gauge trains that ran between Wolverhampton and Oxford.  

On 14 November 1854 passenger services to and from Shrewsbury began to use Wolverhampton Low Level station. These services were standard gauge. On the same day the Great Western Railway (GWR) started to run trains between Birmingham Snow Hill and Wolverhampton Low Level. They ran both broad and narrow gauge trains as their line between Birmingham and Priestfield had been built as mixed gauge and the OW&WR was mixed gauge at Wolverhampton.

On 1 May 1857 the GWR introduced a Birmingham Snow Hill – Birkenhead Monks Ferry express service. The lines between Wolverhampton and Birkenhead were of the standard gauge and the introduction of the service was made possible because of the dual gauging of the line between Wolverhampton and Birmingham. The service gave access to the important port city of Liverpool which was connected to the Birkenhead terminus by a steam ferry service.

During 1861 the GWR dual gauged their broad gauge line that linked London Paddington to Birmingham. This allowed them to introduce a Paddington – Birkenhead service on 1 October 1861. The service became one of the premier trains of the GWR and it would be presence at Wolverhampton Low Level for over a hundred years.

The February 1863 (extract seen below) timetable showed thirty up trains from Wolverhampton Low Level Monday-to-Saturday. They ran to destinations includinf Birmingham Snow Hill, Didcot, Hereford, Leamington Spa, London Paddington, Solihull and Worcester. In the up direction there were twenty-one trains Monday-to-Saturday. They served destinations including Birkenhead Monks Ferry (with advertised ferry connection to Liverpool), Chester, Shinfal and Shrewsbury. There were also twelve services from the down direction that terminated at Wolverhampton Low Level.

The fastest trains between Wolverhampton Low Level and London Paddington in February 1863 did the journey in 4 hours and 7 minutes. Birkenhead Monks Ferry could be reached in 3 hours and 42 minutes. A Wolvehampton passenger could depart from the low level station at 4.03pm and be at Monks ferry by 7.45pm. They could be in Liverpool city centre by 8.05pm which was competitive with the LNWR service from the high level station to Liverpool Lime Street.

On 1 November 1864 broad gauge passenger trains between Birmingham and Wolverhampton ceased to run (the line between Priestfield and Birmingham being converted to standard gauge only shortly after). On 1 July 1869 broad gauge trains over the OW&WR line ceased when it was converted to standard gauge (the OW&WR had been absorbed into the GWR in 1863).

From 7 March 1892 Wolverhampton Low Level was served by the GWR's first steam heated and gangwayed corridor train. The train was introduced onto Paddington - Birkenhead services.

The December 1895 timetable showed eighteen trains each way Monday-to-Saturday over the former OW&WR line. They ran to and from Worcester, Stourbridge Junction and Kidderminster. There were nineteen up trains via the Birmingham line and seventeen down services which ran in the Shrewsbury direction. As well as the Paddington - Birkenhead expresses there were trains to Birmingham Snow Hill, the south-west, Shrewsbury and Chester.

In the early 1900s dinning cars were introduced on express services running from Wolverhampton Low Level.

By 1922 Wolverhampton Low Level passengers could travel to Aberystwyth, Birkenhead Woodside, Birmingham Snow Hill, Chester General, Kidderminster, Leamington Spa, London Paddington, Penzance, Pwllheli, Shrewsbury, Stourbridge Junction, Wellington, Weston-super-Mare and Worcester.

The BR[WR] timetable for 1949 showed thirty-five departures Monday-to-Thursday in the up direction towards Birmingham as shown in the table below. In the down direction towards Shrewsbury there were twenty-six departures Monday-to-Friday. Extra trains ran in the up direction on Fridays and Saturdays and in the down direction on Saturdays.

Up Departures (Birmingham Line) – Summer 1949

Destination

Down Departures – summer 1949

Destination

5.20am

Birmingham Snow Hill

4.20am

Birkenhead Woodside

5.40am

Leamington Spa

6.28am

Chester General

6.05am

Birmingham Snow Hill

7.00am

Cosford

6.25am

Birmingham Snow Hill

7.12am

Wellington

6.45am

London Paddington

7.55am

Wellington

6.58am

Birmingham Snow Hill

8.46am (Saturdays Only)

Aberystwyth

7.10am (Saturdays Only)

Torquay

9.00am

Birkenhead Woodside

7.10am (Saturdays Excepted)

London Paddington

9.20am

Chester General

7.44am

Birmingham Snow Hill (Leamington Spa on Saturdays)

10.33am

Chester General

8.03am

Birmingham Snow Hill

11.22am

Crewe

8.33am

London Paddington

11.35am (Saturdays Only)

Pwhelli

8.42am

Portsmouth Harbour

12.20pm

Birkenhead Woodside

9.00am (Saturdays Only)

Penzance

12.30pm

Wellington

9.12am (Saturdays Only)

Paignton

1.00pm (Saturdays Only)

Aberystwyth

9.35am

London Paddington

1.18pm (Saturdays Only)

Wellington

9.55am

Birmingham Snow Hill

2.07pm

Birkenhead Woodside

10.20am

Margate

2.15pm

Wellington

10.35am

Birmingham Snow Hill (with through coaches to West of England)

2.52pm (Saturdays Excepted)

Birkenhead Woodside

10.50am (Saturdays Only)

Minehead

3.15pm (Saturdays Excepted)

Wellington

11.10am

Weymouth

3.17pm (Saturdays Only)

Birkenhead Woodside

11.34am

London Paddington

3.25pm (Saturdays Only)

Wellington

11.45am

Birmingham Snow Hill

3.54pm

Chester

12.10pm

Bournemouth West

4.40pm

Wellington

12.24pm (Saturdays Only)

Birmingham Snow Hill

5.09pm

Birkenhead Woodside

12.30pm

Birmingham Snow Hill (Leamington Spa on Saturdays)

5.33pm

Shrewsbury

12.45pm (Saturdays Only)

London Paddington

5.55pm

Wellington

1.20pm (Saturdays Only)

Birmingham Snow Hill

6.40pm

Shrewsbury

1.40pm

Birmingham Snow Hill

7.16pm

Birkenhead Woodside

2.40pm

London Paddington

8.30pm

Welshpool

2.51pm

Birmingham Snow Hill

9.23pm

Birkenhead Woodside

3.27pm

London Paddington

9.40pm

Wellington

4.12pm (Saturdays Only)

Birmingham Snow Hill

11.00pm

Wellington

4.20pm (Saturdays Excepted)

London Paddington

11.25pm (Saturdays Only)

Cosford

4.23pm (Saturdays Only)

Worcester Shrub Hill

4.40pm

Leamington Spa

5.00pm (Saturdays Only)

Saturdays Only

5.33pm

London Paddington

5.40pm

Leamington Spa

5.55pm (Saturdays Only)

Birmingham Snow Hill

6.15pm

Cardiff

6.45pm

Birmingham Snow Hill

   

7.23pm

Reading

   

8.00pm

Birmingham Snow Hill

   

9.30pm

Birmingham Snow Hill

   

9.40pm (Fridays Only)

Newquay

   

10.15pm

Birmingham Snow Hill

   

10.40pm (Fridays Only)

Torquay

   

11.45pm

London Paddington

   

On the Stourbridge line there were twenty departures (up direction) Monday-to-Saturday as shown in the table below. There were thirteen arrivals Monday-to-Friday and fourteen on Saturdays. On Sundays there were nine departures (up direction) and seven arrivals.

Stourbridge Line Departures Summer 1949

Destination

Stourbridge Line Arrivals Summer 1949

From

5.35am

Kidderminster

6.53am

Kidderminster

6.32am (SX)

Blowers Green

7.50am

Kidderminster

6.50am

Worcester Shrub Hill

8.36am

Kidderminster

7.35am

Stourbridge Junction

9.27am

Kidderminster

8.18am

Worcester Shrub Hill

10.02am (SO)

Stourbridge Junction

8.55am

Kidderminster

10.25am (SX)

Stourbridge Junction

10.07am

Stourbridge Junction

11.13am

Worcester Shrub Hill

10.55am

Stourbridge Junction

1.03pm

Stourbridge Junction

12.05pm

Stourbridge Junction

2.19pm (SO)

Stourbridge Junction

12.55pm (SO)

Kidderminster

2.57pm

Paddington

1.55pm

Stourbridge Junction

4.27pm

Stourbridge Junction

3.45pm

Stourbridge Junction

6.06pm

Stourbridge Junction

4.23pm

Paddington (SO)

6.57pm

Stourbridge Junction

4.30pm

Stourbridge Junction

8.12pm

Hereford

4.50pm

Worcester Shrub Hill

10.19pm

Kidderminster

5.29pm

Malvern Wells

6.05pm

Kidderminster

6.40pm

Stourbridge Junction

8.20pm

Worcester Shrub Hill

9.45pm

Kidderminster


The BR[WR] timetable for 15 September 1958 to 14 June 1959 showed thirty-eight up services via the Birmingham line Monday-to-Thursday as shown in the table below. There was an extra up service on Fridays and Saturdays. There were thirty-one down services Monday-to-Friday and thirty-three on Saturdays. On Sundays there were nineteen up and thirteen down services.

There were also ten departures for destinations along the former OW&WR line Monday-to-Friday and thirteen on Saturdays.Arriving from destinations on the OW&WR line there were also ten trains with eleven on Saturdays. On Sundays there were four trains in each direction. By this time most of the services on this line ran between Wolverhampton and Stourbridge but there were also services to Worcester and a Paddington train used that route departing from Wolverhampton Low level at 2.15pm Monday-to-Saturday.

Up Departures - 15 September 1958 to
14 June 1959
Destination Down Departures - 15 September 1958 to
14 June 1959
Destination
12.10am (Mondays Excepted) Paddington 4.30am Birkenhead Woodside
12.30am (Mondays Only ) Paddington 6.25am Wellington
5.23am Birmingham Snow Hill 7.00am Cosford
5.40am Birmingham Snow Hill 7.15am Wellington
6.10am Solihull 7.57am Shrewsbury
6.25am Birmingham Snow Hill 9.03am Chester General
6.45am Paddington 9.15am Wellington
7.05am Birmingham Snow Hill 10.15am Wellington
7.25am (Saturdays Only) Leamington Spa 1.15am Wellington
7.40am Birmingham Snow Hill 12.12pm Birkenhead Woodside
7.56am Birmingham Snow Hill 12.18pm Wellington
8.33am Paddington 12.43pm Aberystwyth
Cambrian Coast Express
8.43am Oxford 12.50pm (Saturdays Only) Wellington
9.00am Penzance 1.15pm Wellington
9.17am Birmingham Snow Hill 1.40pm Birkenhead Woodside
9.35am Paddington 2.15pm Wellington
10.10am Birmingham Snow Hill 2.52pm Birkenhead Woodside
10.22am Folkestone 3.15pm Wellington
11.10am Birmingham Snow Hill 3.52pm Birkenhead Woodside
11.36am Paddington 4.15pm Wellington
12.10pm Birmingham Snow Hil 4.37pm Wellington
12.20pm Bournemouth 5.06pm Birkenhead Woodside
1.10pm Birmingham Snow Hill 5.15pm Wellington
2.00pm (Saturdays Only) Birmingham Snow Hill 5.43pm Shrewsbury
2.10pm (Saturdays Excepted) Birmingham Snow Hill 6.32pm Shrewsbury
2.35pm Paddington 7.18pm Birkenhead Woodside
3.10pm Birmingham Snow Hill 7.21pm Wellington
3.35pm

Paddington
Cambrian Coast Express

8.20pm Wellington
4.10pm Birmingham Snow Hill 9.25pm (Fridays excepted) Birkenhead Woodside
4.35pm (Saturdays Excepted) Paddington
The Inter City
9.30pm Wellington
4.40pm Didcot 9.32pm (Fridays Only) Birkenhead Woodside
5.10pm Birmingham Snow Hill 10.15pm Wellington
5.20pm (Fridays only) Paddington 11.10pm Shrewsbury
5.33pm Paddington 11.15pm (Saturdays Only) Wellington
5.40pm Stratford-upon-Avon - -
6.10pm Stratford-upon-Avon - -
6.40pm Birmingham Snow Hill - -
7.10pm Birmingham Snow Hill - -
7.29pm Paddington - -
8.10pm Leamington Spa - -
9.10pm Birmingham Snow Hill - -
10.10pm Leamington Spa - -

In 1960 BR[WR] introduced DMUs onto many of the local services that served Wolverhampton Low Level and diesel locomotives began to appear on main line services. On 12 September 1960 BR[WR] introduced a new Monday-to-Friday Pullman service between Wolverhampton Low level and Paddington. Called 'The Birmingham Pullman' the service was operated by new specially built eight coach diesel multiple unit trains that were painted in a striking shade of blue. The trains offered high standards of modern luxury. The 'Birmingham Pullman' departed from Wolverhampton Low Level at 7.00am and reached Paddington at 9.30am. The return working left Paddington at 4.50pm and arrived back at Wolverhampton Low Level at 7.15pm.

On 30 July 1962 passenger services between Wolverhampton Low Level and Stourbridge Junction via Dudley were withdrawn.

Although Wolverhampton Low Level was transferred to British Railways [London Midland Region] on 1 January 1963 little changed at first. At that time the former LNWR main line to London (part of the West Coast Main Line) was being electrified and because of the disruption BR[LMR] diverted many trains to run via the former GWR route.

Even by 1965 there were still thirteen express services each way. The Birkenhead Woodside sleeping train still ran departing from Wolverhampton Low Level at 4.30am. There were five trains to Birkenhead Woodside Monday-to-Friday and six on Saturdays. Wolverhampton Low Level had ten Paddington services at this time including a sleeping train which departed at 12.10am.

By the end of 1966 the electrification of the line between Wolverhampton High Level and London was complete and BR[LMR] considered that the route through the low level station was no longer required. The big changes came on 5 March 1967 when the last Birkenhead Woodside express services ran (the 'Birmingham Pullman' ran for the last time on Friday 4 March 1967). From 7 March 1967 most services from the north were diverted to run via Wolverhampton High Level.

The March 1967 – May 1968 timetable showed only four northbound departures and five arrivals from that direction Monday-to-Friday, confined to morning and evening rush-hours, with an additional early afternoon train in each direction on Saturdays. There was no Sunday service.

In 1969 passenger trains to and from the north of Wolverhampton Low Level ceased. The line closed between the station and Cannock Road Junction on 18 January 1970.

Only the service to Birmingham Snow Hill remained. There were six trains in each direction Monday-to-Friday and seven on Saturdays. No trains ran on Sundays. The service was usually operated by a single car DMU.

The newly-formed West Midlands Public Transport Authority (WMPTA) recognised the importance of the route between Wolverhampton Low Level and Birmingham Snow Hill although, as it did not become responsible for local rail services until 1972, it could not react to the next move that BR made. Closure notices were posted by BR on 31 March 1971 with the final date for objections to be received as 19 May 1971. The TUCC received 199 objections in total, and on 25 May they, along with representatives from BR and WMPTE (the Executive body of the WMPTA), inspected the route and all the stations travelling from Snow Hill by train to Wolverhampton Low Level; ironically they returned by bus! A Public Hearing was held at the Rainbow Suite in Birmingham on 14 July 1971 for objections to be voiced and for the fate of the line to be decided. One objection from D J Yew Tree of West Bromwich stated, ‘I use the train from West Bromwich to Snow Hill to get to work…… I shall suffer hardship because it will mean me having to get three buses, thus more than doubling my journey time each day’. Despite the best efforts of the TUCC and the folk who objected to the closure it was granted, by the Minister, on 24 January 1972 with BR (LMR) swiftly announcing that the final trains would run on Saturday 4 March 1972.

On the last day three car DMUs were run on the line as many people turned out to make a last journey on the line. The last train left Wolverhampton Low Level at 17.47 and with its departure the station saw its last passengers.

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