Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Stechford (SCF)

Stechford is a station on the West Coast Main Line just outside of Birmingham city centre, it is also at the junction where Stechford-Aston spur joins the main line.

Information
Type: National Rail
(West Coast Main Line)
Station code: SCF
Opened: 1844
Platforms: 3
The station was opened by the London & North Western Railway in 1844. At one stage Stechford was the largest intermediate station between Birmingham and Coventry with two island platforms. The station also had an extensive goods yard.

The goods yard has now gone as have the two island platforms. The current station building dates from the 1960s and has steep steps down to the platforms. Only platforms 1 and 2 have scheduled services stop at them, all operated by London Midland.

Stechford is usually served by two trains an hour in each direction (with more services in peak hours), away from Birmingham New Street one train goes on to London Euston and the other Birmingham International. The Stechford-Aston spur is currently only used by freight and passenger trains passing through the area such as the Caledonian Sleeper though in the past there was a limited service between Walsall and Birmingham International that used the line.

Stechford was the scene of a fatal rail crash in 1967 when a Class 304 EMU and a Class 24 locomotive collided killing 9 people.
A Birmingham bound Class 350 at the station

Footbridge, platform 3 is on the far left

Virgin 221 111 passes through

Platform shelter

LM 350 371 departs

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Aldwych

Aldwych is probably the most famous of the various disused, but still extant, stations on the London Underground. The station was originally called Strand after the street the station is located on and was the terminus of a short branch of the Piccadilly Line from Holborn.

Information
Type: London Underground
(Piccadilly Line)
Opened: 1907
Closed: 1994
Platforms: 2
Strand, which was renamed Aldwych in 1915 (the Strand name was given to the nearby Northern Line station at Charing Cross), always struggled for custom. Originally it had 2 platforms but one platform was closed as early as 1917 and later used to store paintings from the National Gallery [1] during the zeppelin bombing raids late in World War 1.

During World War 2 the station was fully closed and used as an air raid shelter. Low passenger numbers continued to dog the station and it was considered for closure many times with various schemes for extensions coming to nothing. The station was reprieved over and over again but in the early 1990s the original lifts needed replacement and the cost was uneconomic considering less than 500 people typically used the station every day so Aldwych closed for good in 1994 [2].

Or did it? Infact the station had remained intact and continues to be used for filming and training purposes as well as regular tours. Aldwych has a number of historic items of interest including the surviving original rail on platform 1 which is the oldest surviving rail on the Underground dating from the early 20th century. Much of the interior of the station has been unchanged for decades and can give an idea of how the Underground looked in the mid-20th century though some features are "faux" vintage and are additions to help with filming the various films and TV shows that have used the station. The station was also used to test designs for tiling and paint schemes from the 1920s onwards [3].

The station and branch line currently remains connected to the rest of the Underground and a working train of 1972 Tube Stock is stabled at the station. However planned improvement works to Holborn may force the severing of the link to the Aldwych branch.
On the surface

Entrance to the lifts and the convenience

A lot of steps down (and up!)

Platform 1 which closed in 1917, the rails here are the oldest surviving on the underground

A train of 1972 Tube Stock on platform 2


Passageway
[1] Antony Badsey-Ellis & Mike Horne, The Aldwych Branch (Capital Transport, 2009) p. 41
[2] Ben Pedroche, Do Not Alight Here (Capital History, 2011) p.14
[3] Badsey-Ellis & Horne p. 75

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Bidston (BID)

Bidston is the junction of the Merseyrail Wirral Line and the Borderlands Line from Wrexham Central of which it is the Northern terminus.

Information
Type: National Rail
(Merseyrail Wirral Line
& Borderlands Line)
Station code: BID
Opened: 1866
Platforms: 2
The station was opened in 1866 by the Hoylake Railway for their line from Birkenhead Dock to Hoylake. The station was rather isolated however, not getting a paved access road until 1970! The station was closed a couple of times in the late 1800s (1866-70 and 1872-90) due to low passenger numbers [1] (the village of Bidston was rather small) but was reopened as the railway network grew across the Wirral.

In the first half of the 1900s Bidston became a busy interchange station between the electric trains on the Wirral line (from 1938) [2] and steam trains to Wrexham and Chester. This is largely how the station was remained to the present day except the steam trains have been replaced by diesels.

The station consists of an island platform with the Merseyrail trains using both sides and the Borderlands Line, currently operated by Arriva Trains Wales, one of them. Access to the platform is via a footbridge. The platform has a booking office and waiting room.
Merseyrail 507 016 arrives with a Liverpool bound service

Footbridge

Approach to the station

Arriva Trains Wales 150 235 prepares to return to Wrexham Central

Station nameboard

[1] Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Birkenhead to West Kirby (Middleton Press, 2014) p. 29
[2] Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Wrexham to New Brighton (Middleton Press, 2013) p. 97

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Elephant & Castle London Underground (ZEL)

Elephant & Castle is a stop on the Bank branch of the Northern Line and also the Southern terminus of the Bakerloo Line. It is next to the National Rail station of the same name.

Information
Type: Transport for London
(Bakerloo & Northern Lines)
Station code: ZEL
Opened: 1890
Platforms: 4
The station was first opened by the City & South London Railway in 1890, later to become part of the Northern Line. The station was one of six original stations on the first tube line between Stockwell and King William Street [1].

The Baker Street & Waterloo Railway (later Bakerloo Line) arrived in 1906. The station had a separate surface station building designed by Leslie Green (though there is interchange between the two sets of platforms below ground). Originally the Bakerloo had wanted a subsurface ticket office but this was blocked by the local council [2]. The station is the Bakerloo's Southern terminus, the line running on a short distance after the platforms for stabling. Southern extensions have been planned for the Bakerloo since the 1930s [3] and the current proposals are to extend the line to Lewisham.

The station was used as an air raid shelter in the First World War [4]. The first baby to be born on the underground was at Elephant & Castle in 1924. A major upgrade and rebuild of the station is being planned with a new ticket hall for the Northern and improved escalators and lifts.
A Bakerloo Line train prepares to return North

Bakerloo Line platform

Platform roundel

Northern Line platform
[1] Jason Cross, London Underground Guide 2017 (Train Crazy, 2017) p. 120
[2] Mike Horne, The Bakerloo Line (Capital Transport, 2001) p. 22
[3] Ibid. p. 40
[4] Paul Moss, London Underground (Haynes, 2014) p. 55

Friday, 20 October 2017

Kings Sutton (KGS)

Kings Sutton serves the village of King's Sutton (the station name lost its apostrophe at some stage) and the town of Brackley. It is a few miles down the line from Banbury.

Information
Type: National Rail
(Chiltern Main Line)
Station code: KGS
Opened: 1872
Platforms: 2
The station was originally opened in 1872 by the GWR with a branch to Kingham added in 1887, this branch closed for passengers in 1951 though part of the line remained in use until 1971 [1].

Before 1900 there was also a siding served by a tramway which carried yellow ochre for paint production. The station is located in Northamptonshire though the two stations either side (Banbury and Heyford) are in Oxfordshire.

Kings Sutton lost its good yard and footbridge in the 1960s with the latter replaced by a barrow crossing. However a near miss in 2005 where a passenger was nearly killed by a train led to a new footbridge being built and this was completed in 2006. Chiltern Railways manage the station though most services to Kings Sutton are operated by Great Western Railway.
GWR 165 126 departs on an Oxford bound service

Platform shelter, better than the usual bus shelter!

Station entrance

View from the footbridge

Chiltern 165 038 stops on a Marylebone bound service

Freightliner 70 019 takes a freight through the station


[1] Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Princes Risborough to Banbury (Middleton Press, 2002) p. 93

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Small Heath (SMA)

Small Heath is a station just outside the centre of Birmingham in between Bordesley and Tyseley on what is now the Chiltern Main Line though only local services stop at the station.

Information
Type: National Rail
(Chiltern Main Line)
Station code: SMA
Opened: 1863
Platforms: 2
Small Heath was opened by the GWR as Small Heath & Sparkbrook (a name it kept into the 1960s) on it's line from London Paddington to Birkenhead Woodside in 1863. The station was located in a busy area and used to have a large goods yard, being situated between the A45 road and the Birmingham Small Arms (BSA) factory (now closed). The station was built to serve the factory.

The station had 4 platforms on 2 islands though only 1 is in use now. The platforms used to have canopies but these were demolished [1], now passengers have to rely on the ubiquitous "bus shelter" for protection from the elements. The station building is built on the B4145 bridge which crosses the tracks with stairways down to the platforms.
Only London Midland trains stop at the station, usually twice an hour outside of peak hours. Services South of Small Heath go on to both Whitlocks End and Dorridge. North of Small Heath services usually go to Stourbridge but can go as far as Worcester.
LM 172 342 stops at the station

Notice the station building and the disused second island

LM 172 336 departs heading for Tyseley

[1] Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham Moor Street (Middleton Press, 2006) p. 102

Monday, 16 October 2017

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is no longer on the tube map though still exists as part of Charing Cross tube station and was the first part of the current station to be built [2].

Information
Type: Transport for London
(Bakerloo Line)
Opened: 1906
Closed: 1979 (merged into Charing Cross)
The station was opened by the Baker Street & Waterloo Railway (later Bakerloo Line) in 1906. The Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway (later the Northern Line) opened an adjacent but separate station on the Strand called Charing Cross a year later.

Although both stations were owned by the Underground Electric Railways of London company there was no underground interchange, passengers had to travel to the surface to transfer that way. The Northern Line station was renamed Charing Cross (Strand) in 1914 and Strand in 1915 (taking the name of a nearby Piccadilly Line station which was renamed Aldwych). Another Charing Cross station already existed by the way, operated by the District Railway.

As with Regent's Park on the original stretch of the Bakerloo Line it was not possible to construct station buildings on the surface so an underground ticket office was built [3].

The building of new platforms for the Fleet Line (renamed Jubilee Line by the time it opened) in the 1970s gave London Underground the opportunity to finally merge the Northern and Bakerloo stations [4]. The new station was named Charing Cross in 1979 (the District Line Charing Cross was renamed Embankment) and Trafalgar Square ceased to exist as a separate station and on the tube map. Platform signs on the Bakerloo platforms however still say "For Trafalgar Square" under Charing Cross on the LU roundel.
Original platform just before opening note the name on the tiles, public domain image [1]

Trafalgar Square today, now part of Charing Cross

A Bakerloo Line train stands at the former Trafalgar Square station

[1] "Baker Street & Waterloo Railway of London", Street Railway Journal Vol. XXVII No. 14 (April 1906) p. 554
[2] Chris Nix, Charing Cross access all areas (London Transport Museum, 2017) p. 2
[3] Mike Horne, The Bakerloo Line (Capital Transport, 2001) p. 18
[4] Ibid. p. 67

Friday, 13 October 2017

Hall Road (HLR)

Situated on the Merseyrail Northern Line Southport Branch, Hall Road owes its existence to a timber merchant called Joseph Gardner. He lived nearby in an isolated house and wanted a station built for his use. The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway, who owned the line, said they would not open a station for just 1 house but would if 5 more houses were built nearby. Gardner went and had the houses built himself! [1]
Information
Type: National Rail
(Merseyrail Northern Line)
Station code: HLR
Opened: 1874
Platforms: 2

Now part of the Merseyrail network between Hightown and Blundellsands & Crosby (the station is in Blundellsands) the station sees Merseyrail's distinctive yellow trains usually every 15 minutes between Southport and Liverpool (and beyond).

Access between the platforms is via the footbridge or via the road/level crossing at the entrance of the station. The station is manned and has a ticket office. Station buildings are a mixture of brick and bus shelter.
Merseyrail 507 003 arrives with a Liverpool bound services

General view of the station, plenty of Merseyrail yellow on show! 
Main station building

Level crossing


[1] Jonathan Cadwaller & Martin Jenkins, Merseyside Electrics (Ian Allan, 2010) p. 22

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Hemel Hempstead (HML)

Hemel Hempstead is a stop on the West Coast Main Line in Hertfordshire in between Berkhamstead and Apsley.

Information
Type: National Rail
(West Coast Main Line)
Station code: HML
Opened: 1837
Platforms: 4
Hemel Hempstead was opened as Boxmoor in 1837 by the London & Birmingham Railway. It was the Northern terminus of the line from London Euston for a few months until the line was extended to Tring later in the year. The station was built about a mile outside of the town centre due to opposition from land owners.

A later station, called Hemel Hempstead, was built by the Midland Railway in the town centre. To compete with this interloper the original station, then owned by the LNWR, was renamed Boxmoor & Hemel Hempstead in 1912. The name went through a few tweaks in the following decades, becoming Hemel Hempstead & Boxmoor in 1930. The ex-Midland station was closed in 1963 allowing the original station to finally be named Hemel Hempstead!


Hemel Hempstead is served by regular trains between Milton Keynes Central and Tring to London Euston, operated by London Midland who manage the station. Less frequent services from further afield including Birmingham New Street also stop at the station.

Southern services between Milton Keynes Central and East Croydon via the West London Line also stop. Virgin Trains services pass through the station but do not stop. The station has platforms on both the WCML slow and fast lines, the latter are more intensively used. There was once a South facing bay platform but this is now disused. The platforms (and lines) are built on an embankment with access between the platforms being via a subway.
LM 350 254 on a Euston bound service

Hemel Hempstead has gold name signs honouring Olympic success as common with LM managed stations

Platform buildings

Looking down towards London

Southern 377 705 pulls into the station on a South bound service

Monday, 9 October 2017

Darlington (DAR)

Darlington is one of the birthplaces of the modern powered railway due to the pioneer Stockton & Darlington Railway which passed through the site now occupied by Darlington station in 1829.

Information
Type: National Rail
(East Coast Main Line &
Tees Valley Line)
Station code: DAR
Opened: 1841
Platforms: 4
Darlington, also known as Darlington Bank Top, was opened as the terminus of the Great North of England Railway in 1841, with the line continuing North to Tyneside in 1844. The original building (intended as "temporary") was replaced after 15 years in 1859 in the North Eastern Railway (who operated the line by then) style. A few years later the Stockton & Darlington and North Eastern Railways merged, Darlington Bank Top took over S&D services from Darlington North Road.

The current station buildings date from another rebuilding which opened in 1887 and included a three span roof and new interchange lines. The station became a busy interchange station due to its links to the likes of Richmond, Bishop Auckland and Saltburn.

Darlington is a stop on the East Coast Main Line served by Virgin East Coast and also hosts services by Northern, Trans Pennine Express and Cross Country. The station has two through roads and two South facing bay platforms. There were once also bays to the North but these closed in the 1960s.
South facing bay platforms, usually occupied by Pacers

View of the roofs from down the platform

Virgin 91 121 propels a North bound ECML express through the station 
Looking Southwards

Friday, 6 October 2017

Leytonstone (ZLE)

Leytonstone in East London is a stop on London Underground's Central Line however for its first 91 years of existence it was served by main line steam trains.

Information
Type: Transport for London
(Central Line)
Station code: ZLE
Opened: 1856
Platforms: 3
The station was first opened in 1856 by the Eastern Counties Railway and later was operated by the Great Eastern Railway and LNER, not becoming part of the London Underground until 1947 [1] when it became part of the Central Line. Leystonstone is at the junction of the two Central Line Eastern branches: direct to Woodford and Epping and the Hainault Loop [2].

The station was extensively rebuilt due to a new road underpass being built to eliminate a level crossing [3], the work started just before the Second World War but was stopped in 1940 due to wartime priorities, the station was hit during a bombing raid in 1944 which also delayed matters. The work was finally completed after the end of the war and Leytonstone became a tube station in 1947, acting as the Central Line's Eastern terminus for a few months until the opening of the stretch from Woodford to Newbury Park.

Leytonstone has 3 platforms, the centre platforms usually being used for West bound services but also terminating East bound trains.
92ts 91013 leads a train heading back to London

View down the platform

An West bound Central Line train prepares to depart

[1] Jason Cross, London Underground Guide 2017 (Train Crazy, 2017) p. 139
[2] Robert Griffiths, The Central Line (Past & Present, 2007) p. 28
[3] J. Graeme Bruce & Desmond F. Croome, The Twopenny Tube (Capital Transport, 1996) p. 50

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Whatstandwell (WTS)

Whatstandwell serves the village of the same name and the village of Crick (and the nearby National Tramway Museum). The station is located on the Derwent Valley Line between Ambergate and Cromford. The original station, called Watstandwell Bridge, was opened by the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway in 1849 the other side of Whatstandwell tunnel to the current station which dates from 1894 when the name was changed to the present one.

Information
Type: National Rail
(Derwent Valley Line)
Station code: WTS
Opened: 1849
Platforms: 1
Whatstandwell now has only a single active platform after the singling of the Derwent Valley Line. The other platform is still in existence though is now pretty overgrown though it does have a heritage station nameboard sign in the London Midland Scottish Railway "hawkseye" style. The footbridge gives access to the towpath of the Cromford Canal and over a further bridge into the village.

Whatstandwell is served by East Midland Trains from Matlock to Newark Castle and Nottingham via Derby.
EMT 156 410 departs heading for Matlock

Station footbridge, in the distance can be seen Whatstandwell Tunnel 
Disused platform and heritage sign

Footbridge leads to the canal towpath

General platform view
Nameboard