Locomotive Building in Wolverhampton


The Shrewsbury & Birmingham Railway (S&B) originally planned a route from Shrewsbury to Birmingham, via Wolverhampton High Level Station and the Stour Valley Line. The Stour Valley Line was originally known as the Birmingham, Wolverhampton & Stour Valley Railway, its construction was authorised by an Act of Parliament passed on 3rd August 1846. The capital was equally divided between four sources; the company itself, the Shrewsbury & Birmingham Railway, the Birmingham Canal Company,  and local interests. The London & North Western Railway (L&NWR) was always hostile to the S&B and they soon managed to gain control of the Stour Valley Line. This was done in three steps: 

1) The L&NWR took over the Birmingham Canal Company.

2) The L&NWR leased the line under the terms of an Act passed on 1st July 1847 that would prevent the Shrewsbury & Birmingham from using the line if they joined the Great Western Railway, which was an intense rival.

3) By making the Wolverhampton General station (High Level) and the section to Bushbury joint property with the Shrewsbury & Birmingham in an Act of 9th July 1847, which also gave the S&B running powers over the Stour Valley Line.

Stafford Road Works as originally built.

The S&B realised that it could not reach Birmingham as planned and so it decided to build its headquarters and repair shop at Wolverhampton. The buildings had to be situated close to the railway and preferably close to the town centre. The only suitable site that could be found was in between the railway and the Stafford Road, about three quarters of a mile from the town centre.

The land was purchased by the company's architect Mr. Edward Banks, who designed the buildings.

Construction began in July 1849, and was completed in November of that year at about the time of the railway's opening. The offices were built along the Stafford Road and behind them was the locomotive shed, carriage and wagon shed, the repair shops and traverser, and a goods shed. The new site was known as Stafford Road works. 

On 1st September 1854 the S&B amalgamated with the Shrewsbury & Chester Railway, and the Great Western Railway (GWR), to become the Northern Division of the GWR. The lines to the north of Wolverhampton were standard gauge whereas the lines to the south were broad gauge. This meant that the works had to cater for both gauges.

The original layout as planned by the S&B was designed for the stabling and repair of rolling stock. The company purchased locomotives, vehicles, and spare parts as required, and so the works had only a very limited facilities for making and reconditioning parts. These facilities would now have to be improved to cater for the larger number of locomotives and rolling stock that were used on the line. The GWR decided to retain the existing buildings and machinery, and adapt them for both broad gauge and standard gauge use. This would be the only locomotive works in the Northern Division. The carriage and waggon dept. was moved to Saltney, and extra machinery was brought from Shrewsbury. The Northern Division stores was also to be located here.


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