The Story of Bloxwich Station

Bloxwich Station c1965, unknown source.

The original Bloxwich Railway Station was opened on 1st February 1858 when the South Staffordshire Railway Company opened the line from Walsall (Ryecroft Junction) to the Cannock and Norton Branch with stations at Bloxwich, Wyrley and Church Bridge, and Cannock.



Bloxwich Station, c1939

In 1859, it was extended to Rugeley, and in 1861, the London and North Western Railway took over the Cannock line and widened Walsall Station to accommodate passing lines through the centre for mineral and freight trains, leaving two loops for passenger trains.

Bloxwich Station, 1962.  Photo by Nick Sanders, courtesy Bloxwich Past & Present.

Under the ‘Beeching Axe’ the line from Walsall to Rugeley Trent Valley was closed to passenger traffic on 18th January 1965.  Bloxwich Station was closed.  However, it was reopened for a special train on 29 May 1966, taking 600 members of the Bloxwich Excelsior Club and Institute and their children to Blackpool for a day’s outing (Express & Star 28/5/66).  British Railways apparently made no charge for the use of the station, and gave the Club “excellent co-operation.”  Bloxwich Station was demolished some time after this, I have not found any specific date however.

Gardening at Bloxwich Station, early 1960s (Walsall Local History Centre)

In the late 20th century, rail passenger services underwent a surprising national revival when road congestion began to escalate enormously, and on 7 April 1989, after years of struggle, the Walsall to Hednesford service was reinstated under the auspices of Staffordshire County Council, West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive, British Rail and local councils along the route (including Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council).

The new Bloxwich Station (really just an unmanned wooden-platformed halt with two bus shelters) was supposed to be open by the time the line to Hednesford was reopened.  However, allegedly due to planning blunders by British Rail (according to the Walsall Express & Star 23/3/89 p7 and 24/8/89 p35), Bloxwich Station was not actually ready in time for the opening of the line (I cannot find a precise date when it was opened).

According to newspaper reports, it seems British Rail did not get planning permission until after work on the station at Croxdene Avenue had already begun:  the newspapers said that according to the Council the application was late being submitted.  Also in August it was reported that British Rail had apparently belatedly found out that the platform they were building was not long enough and begun work to extend it, again without planning permission.  Retrospective approval was given however and work went ahead.

The resurrection of Walsall’s railway services continued in the late 1990s and saw the extension of the Hednesford line through to Rugeley and then Stafford, as well as the reopening of the Walsall to Wolverhampton service in 1998.

Bloxwich Station at Croxdene Avenue, 12th August 2007 (Stuart Williams)

Sadly, in the following years the new Bloxwich Station has garnered a reputation for being dark, dingy, threatening at night and out of sight; a haven for criminals, vandals and drug addicts.  More difficult to find and harder to get to than the old station, with no parking, no main bus route nearby and far less welcoming than the attractive old Victorian manned station (possibly even dangerous at times).

All this makes it rather ironic when you read the piece in the Express & Star 22/11/1988 p9 “Big plans for town rail link”, where it states the following:

“Restoration of the old station site in Station Road has been ruled out, instead a new station is planned in Croxdene Avenue which would be close to the Dudley Fields and Sandbank housing estates.  The new station would also be closer to the High Street shopping area than the old
station and could easily be served by bus links.”  Need I say more?

The site of the long-departed old Bloxwich Station today (Stuart Williams)

Today, there is much talk of the possibility of relocating the ‘new’ Bloxwich Station to the old site, a far better location for many reasons.  Whether this will come to pass remains to be seen – we can but hope!

Stuart Williams, 14th August 2007

 


Image of an original Bloxwich Station totem sign used by kind permission of Mr. John Prescott.

This article will be expanded as more information comes to light, so please revisit this page from time to time!  If you have any pictures of the old Bloxwich Station, please do get in touch:  the.edditer@thebloxidgetallygraph.com

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News, heritage and information for Bloxwich and district

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