Sunday, 4 December 2016

Birmingham Snow Hill (BSW)

Type: National Rail (Snow Hill Lines)
Station code: BSW
Opened: 1852 (Current station 1987)
Birmingham Snow Hill, one of Birmingham's three large railway stations, has had a long history though the current station is very different to the original GWR one.

This station opened in 1852 on the London Paddington to Wolverhampton line with major rebuilding and enlarging in the early 1910s to compete with New Street. The station had a huge roof and an ornate facade like many major rail stations of the time. Snow Hill was a victim of the Beeching railway cuts of the 1960s which saw the station closed[1] in 1972. The facade was demolished in the 1970s, the station area itself surviving as a car park for a time. Interestingly it featured in the 1970s BBC TV series Gangsters which had a fight scene take place in its crumbling ruins.

The original station clock was bought by a commuter for £125 when the station was closed as he had met his future wife under the clock years before. He said he intended to put the clock up on his farm in Uttoxeter[2]. Some items from the original Snow Hill including the Booking Hall sign were later reused in the refurbishment of the nearby Birmingham Moor Street.

Snow Hill was reborn in the late 1980s as a very different station with modern architecture and a car park on top (though reusing the old lines) with services to London Marylebone, Stratford-upon-Avon and Worcester the main destinations. The new station is on a smaller scale than the original with 2 island platforms (the original had 10!) The Midlands Metro, when built in the 1990s, had its Birmingham terminus located at Snow Hill though recently that has moved up to New Street.

Current plans are for more trains at Snow Hill as part of the Midlands Rail Hub plans with the former Metro terminus platform being reused for heavy rail. Chiltern hopes to extend all of its London services to Snow Hill (presently many services terminate at Moor Street [3]). The original Snow Hill may have died a long time ago but the current station seems to have a pretty bright future.
Main entrance

Open air part of the platforms

LM 172 335 stands at the station looking back towards the car park

DRS 68 008 heads through light engine, about to enter the tunnel towards Moor Street

[1] The Guardian, 01 July 1966 p. 12.
[2] Daily Mirror, Tue 1 Jul 1969 p. 2-3
[3] James Abbott, "West Midlands Railway" Modern Railways (December 2016) p. 51