Beginnings: The Wolverhampton & Walsall Railway

By the 1860s most of the local manufacturing towns were easily and quickly accessible by train from Wolverhampton. Two notable exceptions were Willenhall and Walsall, and although they already had railway stations it was necessary to change trains during a circuitous journey. An end to the tedium was in sight when the Wolverhampton & Walsall Railway was incorporated on 29th June, 1865.

The main entrance into the goods depot from Wednesfield Road.
The route was 8 miles long and took 7 years to complete, and four intermediate Acts were necessary before operation began. The line started at Wolverhampton High Level station and ended at Walsall, with five intermediate stations. They were at Heath Town, Wednesfield, Willenhall, Short Heath, and North Walsall. The railway opened on 1st November, 1872 and was operated jointly by the London & North Western Railway and the Midland Railway.
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. The North Western realised that they would be able to sell the line to the Midland Railway for a profit because of the building of the Wolverhampton, Walsall & Midland Junction line, which would be an extension from the Midland mainline onto the Wolverhampton & Walsall Railway, to provide a direct route into Wolverhampton for the Midland Railway.

The western side of the depot awaiting demolition.

A New Station

Another view from the west.

The line was sold to the Midland Railway on 1st June, 1876 and L.N.W.R. services running on the line ended on 31st July, 1876. The Midland’s running powers into Wolverhampton High Level station ended on 30th June 1878 and so the company decided to build a railway station for passengers in Wednesfield Road. An Act of Parliament allowing construction was passed on 28th June, 1877.
On the same day two other Acts were passed, both for the London & North Western Railway. The first allowed the company to build a 1.25 mile link to their Grand Junction line from Wolverhampton High Level, so allowing direct access to Willenhall and Walsall. The second Act gave permission for the extension of Wolverhampton High Level station. This was vigorously opposed by both the G.W.R. and the Midland Railway because it would restrict access to their stations.

A view of the building from the back of the site.

A view of the north western corner of the building.

A House of Commons Select Committee looked into the matter and decided to restrict the growth of the High Level station and renegotiate the Midland’s right to use it. 

The Midland was now faced with a dilemma. It had permission to build a passenger station in Wednesfield Road, which was no longer required and so the decision was taken to build a goods depot instead.

The Goods Depot
Work started on the new depot in November 1878 and reached completion in November 1881. The depot survived for over 100 years but during its latter years there were a number of changes.

In 1966 British Rail's goods operations in the West Midlands centred on the newly remodelled Bescot Yard and most of the other local goods depots soon closed. 

The eastern side of the building.

The goods depot in its heyday. Courtesy of Lynn Stratton.

A final view from Wednesfield Road.

The Midland Railway goods depot was leased to Railstores Limited but little use was made of the building until their lease expired in October 1988. By this time the station had an almost derelict appearance due to lack of routine maintenance and its future seemed very uncertain. 

The building then became part of Wolverhampton steel terminal and for a while was given a new lease of  life.

For a few years it was heavily used but as the economic climate changed it fell into disuse again. The end came in the mid 1990s when the building was demolished to make way for the Royal Mail sorting office.

An LNWR Super D photographed on the line at Bentley Common during the removal of the cattle bridge. Courtesy of Ray Jevons.

One of the Midland Railway's parcels receiving offices. Courtesy of Lynn Stratton.

In Wolverhampton there were Midland Railway parcels receiving offices in Ablow Street, Bilston Road, Coleman Street, Darlington Street, Dudley Road, Great Brickkiln Street, Horseley Fields, Lichfield Street, Queen Street, Salop Street, Snow Hill, Victoria Street, and Worcester Street.

If anyone has an further information on the goods depot, or any photographs of trains or stations on the line, please send me an email.

Return to the
previous page