Horseley Fields Canal and Railway Junction

The 8 miles long Wolverhampton to Walsall railway opened on 1st November, 1872. It was jointly operated by the London & North Western Railway and the Midland Railway.

The line started at Wolverhampton High Level station and ended at North Walsall station with five intermediate stations in between. They were at Heath Town, Wednesfield, Willenhall, Short Heath, and Bentley.

Disagreement arose between the two operating companies and legal proceedings followed, which resulted in the L.N.W.R. buying the Wolverhampton & Walsall Railway in 1875.

On 1st June, 1876 when the L.N.W.R. had completed the Wolverhampton, Walsall & Midland Junction line, the company sold the Wolverhampton & Walsall Railway to the Midland Railway, and so L.N.W.R. services on the line ended on 31st July, 1876.

The Midland Railway’s canal and railway interchange depot was built on the site of a disused canal basin on 3 plots of land that were purchased in June 1869, June 1875, and February 1882 respectively. It seems likely that the depot opened in 1880.

At the time the depot was built, extensive use was made of the established canal system as a means of localised transport between railways and industrial premises. The depot provided covered facilities for the transfer of goods between rail rolling stock and canal narrow boats.

The main building.

The depot consisted of a building that partly covered the basin and was 20ft. high and 300ft. long. It had solid oak roof trusses with cast iron support columns, and a slate roof laid on timber laths, with a central double row of roof lights in the apex. The internal platform was partly solid and partly laid with timber beams on a brick foundation. On the northern end of the depot was a rail weighbridge made by Pooley Limited. It had a capacity of 40 tons.

The rails were cleverly laid relative to the canal water level so that the floor of the rolling stock, the platform, and the gunwales of the narrow boats were at the same height, to simplify the transfer of goods.

After the formation of the LMS in 1923 the depot became the LMS Railway Canal Depot.

The site fell into a sad state of dereliction. By the late 1960s the building had started to decay, and the whole area was overgrown. Around 1969 the site was purchased by Wolverhampton and Birchley Rolling Mills Limited, and soon redeveloped when their factory was extended.

The derelict railway buildings in 1967. A drawing by Austin Moseley.

All that still survives from the depot is the original brick-arched bridge on the canal towpath that formed the entrance into the canal basin.

The canal entrance to the depot was through the bridge on the right.

Return to the Canals
and Industry Menu