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Hampton Station B&DJR & LNWR

Hampton Memories

The Nineteen Sixties - taken from the diary notes of Colin Gorton

Hampton B&DJR Station (29) Hampton in Arden Station (63) Hampton Memories

By the end of 1963 electrification installations were nearing the stations. Mid-November saw 'Evening Star' on an erection train concreting in the pylons at Bradnocks Marsh, a mile or so south of Hampton village. Had a brief ride. The Coventry to New Street line was (partly?) closed most Sundays for this work, always steam hauled.

18 January 1964 - the old main-road bridge at Hampton LNWR station was blown at 05.40. There were many onlookers, including my fiancée and me. We all expected a bit more than a puff of smoke! Twenty wagons underneath spread along both tracks were filled with rubble. We had 'rescued' the old LNWR bridge sign two nights before. A temporary single-width road-bridge plus traffic lights had been erected on the Birmingham side - in place for ages!

By the 19 December 1964 all wagons/vans stored on the old Whitacre branch had been removed and the track lifted. This short section of track had extended as far as the 5 mile post just before the A 452 Chester Road. This left only the 'sidings' outside old Hampton Station and the loop/ siding alongside the main line. This could accommodate long freight trains. Train lengths in wagon numbers were noted in the signal box record book. The milepost ended up as our house number in Balsall Common 18 months later.

By 21 February 1965 the sidings had been removed. Alongside the old station they were in a poor state. Steam engines eased their way very slowly as the sleepers rose and fell underneath. These track sections had Midland Railway chairs dated 1861, many still with the wedges inside. Work that remained was removal of the crossovers onto the main line towards Marston Green.

Saturday 15 May 1965 Last week of steam on local services. Many of these services still comprised non-corridor stock with sepia photos and Hamilton Ellis prints.

2 April 1966 Hampton LNWR signal box opposite the old station had been cleared of all equipment. The signboard, some logbooks and many wagon labels were 'rescued'. All auctioned thirty years later.

Early June 1966 Three trains noted passing through Hampton hauled by electric locos with diesel pilot behind.

3 July 1966 Hampton LNWR signal box demolished. Electric signals now in operation. And by early October 1966 electrification complete.

Mid-December 1966 AL5 hauled expresses and Class 310 EMU's fully in service.

Birmingham International

North of the 'new' station, around 400 metres after the tracks return to double, are two bridge abutments - one each side of the line. These are the remains of a 'runway' that ran from the Metro Cammel bomber factory (now part of the Elmdon Ind. Estate) over the railway directly onto Elmdon Airport. The runway ran directly in front of Marston Hall long since demolished for a plane-park. The narrow bridge over the line a bit further north was the main drive from Marston Green to the Hall according to the 1920 O.S. map. (ref: Elmdon Airport website) Research also indicates that the factory produced Lancaster/Stirling bombers and would be the reason for King George V1 leaving his train close to Hampton B&DJR for a visit in the 1940s. He did not alight at the station but onto a small track that ran up to Old Station Road. The photo that Mrs Reeves had has been lost.

Google Earth shows the runway clearly on its 1945 b/w image. There seems evidence that bombers were also partly built at 'The Austin', Longbridge then hauled by road to Bickenhill for attachment of the wings, this due to the runway at Longbridge being too short for take-off. (ref: Marston Green History website)

Hampton B&DJR

In the mid-nineteen thirties Mr and Mrs Reeves took over tenancy of the station building. Looking at the 'Doctor Smythe' photo the small attached end-building became their bathroom, the room between there and the 'bow window' was their sitting room. This was formerly the Ladies Waiting Room, the original door into which still had the outline of lettering in the 1970s. My wife, Joan, and I could never quite work whether or not there were any toilet accommodation!

Joan was the Reeves' younger daughter and often spent time on the shunting engine during holidays. She would climb on top of the dog kennel, up against the fence along the platform edge, and Johnny, the fireman, would reach over and lift her onto the footplate. She recalls that it was a tender loco with a tall chimney; she was not a train-spotter. On one occasion they travelled down the branch line as far as the Chester Road where the line ended - the cutting filled in for the road. It was here that we later came across the '5 miles from W' post. A big thrill for her was travelling down the main line to do some shunting in the LNWR yard south of that Station on another occasion.

Joan also recalls her mum telling her of caddy-cans being re-filled over the fence during the war when goods trains were 'side-lined' overnight. The old station held some interest for steam engine crews (the older ones) right to the end in 1966 and on Sundays they would often pop in during a lull in action for quick tour and a cuppa. This resulted on one occasion with the crew promising to pop a few lumps of coal over onto the track as they finished duty and returned to Saltley Shed. Joan and I spent ages in full darkness stumbling over more and more huge lumps stretching back along the track and heaving them back to the Station. The supply lasted her mum for months.

Joan's father, Leonard, was a cabinet maker working for Wyckham Blackwell. He worked in the former engine shed in the yard which, by then had a first floor added inside. Your website photo brought back memories for her of course and is a view from the rear looking south towards the old station. As far as to what traffic was shunted Joan cannot remember, it being the early fifties and she only eleven years old.

I first met Joan in the White Lion - apart from an obvious attraction, the fact that she lived in an old railway station that I'd never heard of … the rest is history! Joan's mum finally left the station in 1972 for a 'sheltered residence' in the village'.

Colin Gorton