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Lawley Street Goods Station - An illustrated History

LMS Route: Nuneaton to Birmingham New Street
LMS Route: Birmingham New Street to Tamworth

Lawley Street Goods Station - An illustrated History (54) Lawley Street: Modernization of a Goods Depot

Lawley Street opened for traffic on 10th February 1842, providing the terminus for the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway (B&DJR). The original line from Derby via Burton-on-Trent, Tamworth and Whitacre had terminated at Hampton station, being opened on 5th August 1839. Traffic for London and Birmingham was then routed onwards via the London and Birmingham Railway (L&BR). Inevitably the L&BR used their monopoly to exact a high toll on traffic to both locations compelling the B&DJR to look at other options. In the instance of Birmingham traffic, they resolved to built their own line which ran from Whitacre to Lawley Street. Despite their arrival in Birmingham being later than the Grand Junction Railway (GJR), who had joined together with the London and Birmingham Railway to build Curzon Street station, the B&DJR were able to purchase ground between the junction of both railways in order to build their passenger station.

Bob Essery notes in Midland Record No 8 (1997) that CR Clinker had described Lawley Street station as 'having a long frontage of elegant design with a fine central block of offices which accommodated the headquarters of the railway'. Bob also records that in addition to both passenger and freight facilities, a locomotive maintenance and repair shop was brought into use in June 1842. The B&DJR was connected to the GJR by an incline beyond Vauxhall Viaduct. This was opened on 11th April 1842 and subsequently closed on 1st November 1850. Lawley Street was also connected with the L&BR by means of a wagon lift which, situated on the south side of the L&BR's Lawley Street viaduct, was reached via a track on the north-south alignment. The lift also enabled an exchange of traffic with the Birmingham & Gloucester Railway (B&GR) which connected with the L&BR approximately a ¼ mile to the East of Gloucester Junction. The B&GR's line from Camp Hill being opened on 17th August 1841. According to John Gough's Chronology, the lift remained in operation from July 1843 until mid-1853.

At this point in time Lawley Street was rather removed from the centre of Birmingham, which was reached via Lawley Street and Curzon Street. However Richard Foster notes in Birmingham New Street Part One that a footpath constructed by the B&DJR shortened the distance between the Curzon Street and Lawley Street stations. However the amalgamation of the L&BR with the GJR to form the London North Western Railway (L&NWR) and the amalgamation of the B&DJR with the B&GR to form the Midland Railway (MR) led to significant development in the area following the opening of New Street station. Following the opening of New Street station, both Curzon Street and Lawley Street were developed to provide freight facilities for the fast growing town of Birmingham. Lawley Street passenger station became a goods station. The MR opened an engine shed in 1854 later to be replaced in 1868 by a new shed adjacent to the Birmingham & Warwick Canal, just south of Duddeston Mill Road.

In Midland Record No 8, Bob Essery plots the development of Lawley Street through inspection of Ordnance Survey Maps and Rating Plans. He identifies that sidings were built to north of Duddeston Mill Road some time between 1873 when the 1873 street map shows the area is a millpool and 1888, when the OS map of 1887-8 shows the sidings in place. Bob notes that whilst the LMS line side strip for the area show the sidings described as being Duddeston Sidings, the MR Working Time Table (WTT) dated April 1908 shows four terminating points within Birmingham - New Street, Exchange Sidings, Saltley Sidings and Lawley Street. Bob's theory is that Duddeston Sidings were once known as Saltley Sidings, but the question he poses if he is correct is; why the name change? The ever expanding economy of the City of Birmingham (it became a city in 1889, led to increased pressure on all of the city's goods stations resulting in them being redeveloped. Lawley Street goods yard was remodelled during 1892-3 which saw the building of the three storey warehouse and the realignment of the line from Derby to New Street where it burrows under the former L&BR line from Coventry to New Street.

After this phase of remodelling, the yard did not under go any major alteration or rebuilding work until the late 1930s. First, the destruction of the 1893 shed by fire on the evening of 26th May 1937, followed by the destruction of the general offices and other buildings during the 1940 blitz on Birmingham by the Luftwaffe, led to the redesign of the main goods shed and warehouse. In the first instance a single storey goods shed was erected and opened on 29th October 1945. The warehouse facilities and offices were built else where in the depot. The next phase of Lawley Street reflected the changing pattern of freight services on British Railways which were now more focused upon container traffic or bulk loads such as moving coal or oil. Lawley Street has therefore become the home to Freightliner, then Railfreight Distribution then English Welsh Scottish Railways (EWS) until 2005 when the UK's Customs and Excise Department moved to Kent and Birmingham Airport.

View of Lawley Street Goods Station circa 1875 showing the original B&DJR passenger station in the centre
Ref: mrls951
Anon
View of Lawley Street Goods Station circa 1875 showing the original B&DJR passenger station in the centre
Looking towards Lawley Street's main goods shed and grain store with the main yard in the foreground
Ref: mrls302
NRM
Looking towards Lawley Street's main goods shed and grain store with the main yard in the foreground
Close up showing Lawley Street 'B' Signal Box and  the building housing the main yard offices, mess and stores
Ref: mrls302a
NRM
Close up showing Lawley Street 'B' Signal Box and the building housing the main yard offices, mess and stores
Close up showing the corner of the shed and one of the cobbled driveways into the depot which was lit by gas
Ref: mrls302b
NRM
Close up showing the corner of the shed and one of the cobbled driveways into the depot which was lit by gas
Close up of the rail entrance to the main and grain sheds with a MR Johnson 0-6-0T half-cab shunting the yard
Ref: mrls302c
NRM
Close up of the rail entrance to the main and grain sheds with a MR Johnson 0-6-0T half-cab shunting the yard

Close up showing Lawley Street goods yard's sidings which are occupied by scores open mineral wagons
Ref: mrls302d
NRM
Close up showing Lawley Street goods yard's sidings which are occupied by scores of open mineral wagons
View of Lawley Street's Goods and Grain Warehouse taken from the London & Birmingham railway with Landor Street in the foreground
Ref: mrls308
NRM
Lawley Street's Goods and Grain Warehouse viewed from the L & BR with Landor Street in the foreground
Close up of Lawley Street Goods Shed's side entrances used by road transport and a variety of fragile goods
Ref: mrls308a
NRM
Close up of Lawley Street Goods Shed's side entrances used by road transport and a variety of fragile goods
Close up of the entrances provided for railway traffic at the Shed and a variety of ventilated vans
Ref: mrls308b
NRM
Close up of the entrances provided for railway traffic at the Shed and a variety of ventilated vans
Close up showing the corner of Lawley Street Goods & Grain Warehouse, an external checker's office and the inside of the road entrance
Ref: mrls308c
NRM
Close up of part of the Goods and Grain Shed, an external checker's office and the inside of the road entrance

Looking towards Saltley showing the extensive sidings provided in front of the Goods and Grain Warehouse
Ref: mrls425
NRM
Looking towards Saltley showing the extensive sidings provided in front of the Goods & Grain Warehouse
Close up of some of the coal merchants' facilities including further reception sidings for handling coal traffic
Ref: mrls425a
NRM
Close up of some of the coal merchants' facilities including further reception sidings for handling coal traffic
Close up Lawley Street 'B' Signal Box, the MR Johnson 0-6-0T and the plethora of sidings serving the depot
Ref: mrls425b
NRM
Close up Lawley Street 'B' Signal Box, the MR Johnson 0-6-0T and the plethora of sidings serving the depot
Close up of Lawley Street sidings as they run parallel with the main Derby to Birmingham line
Ref: mrls425c
NRM
Close up of Lawley Street sidings as they run parallel with the main Derby to Birmingham line
Close up showing one of the MR's articulated horse-drawn vehicles designed to move long and heavy loads
Ref: mrls425d
NRM
Close up showing one of the MR's articulated horse-drawn vehicles designed to move long and heavy loads

View of the Depot's overhead crane and the containers to facilitate more a flexible method of transporting goods
Ref: mrls667
British Railways
View of the Depot's overhead crane and the containers to facilitate more a flexible method of transporting goods
An Internal view of Lawley Street's Warehouse showing one of the cranes used to lift the grain within the building
Ref: mrls430
NRM
An Internal view of Lawley Street's Warehouse showing one of the cranes used to lift the grain within the building
View from the Empties Metal Shed of the rear of Lawley Street Goods Warehouse and its new awning
Ref: mrls307
British Railways
View from the Empties Metal Shed of the rear of Lawley Street Goods Warehouse and its new awning
Close up of the new awning provided to facilitate the movement of goods during inclement weather
Ref: mrls307a
British Railways
Close up of the new awning provided to facilitate the movement of goods during inclement weather
View of the new canopy installed by the LMS to provide protection to staff involved in the transfer of goods
Ref: mrls948
British Railways
The new canopy installed by the LMS to provide protection to staff involved in the transfer of goods

View from the general offices located on the corner of Lawley Street and Viaduct Street showing the 'Empties' building
Ref: mrls949
British Railways
View from the offices located on the corner of Lawley Street and Viaduct Street showing the 'Empties' building
Close up of the 'Empties' shed which was located to the left of the original B&DJR passenger station
Ref: mrls945a
British Railways
Close up of the 'Empties' shed which was located to the left of the original B&DJR passenger station
Close up showing the yard adjacent to the 'Empties' shed with a horse drawn dray standing on a weighbridge
Ref: mrls945b
British Railways
Close up showing the yard adjacent to the 'Empties' shed with a horse drawn dray standing on a weighbridge
A posed photo taken on 11th July 1910 of the Landor Street entrance to the goods shed and a variety of road vehicles
Ref: mrls305
British Railways
A posed photo taken on 11th July 1910 of the Landor Street entrance to the goods shed and a variety of road vehicles
Close up showing the variety of goods being transported by rail into Birmingham including food and perishable products
Ref: mrls305a
British Railways
Close up showing the variety of goods being transported by rail into Birmingham including food and perishable products

View of the Valor Company's heaters being stored at their  dedicated warehouse located at Lawley Street depot
Ref: mrls432
NRM
View of the Valor Company's heaters being stored at their dedicated warehouse located at Lawley Street depot
An internal view of Lawley Street Warehouse showing the transfer of goods between road and rail vehicles
Ref: mrls306
British Railways
An internal view of Lawley Street Warehouse showing the transfer of goods between road and rail vehicles
View of one of the internal wells used to both raise and lower goods within the confines of the shed
Ref: mrls309
British Railways
View of one of the internal wells used to both raise and lower goods within the confines of the shed
The outside of Lawley Street's Banana Depot with Edward Drouet & Company Limited's lorry in evidence
Ref: mrls310
British Railways
The outside of Lawley Street's Banana Depot with Edward Drouet & Company Limited's lorry in evidence
View of a Midland Railway's horse drawn heavy goods delivery vehicle at Lawley Street Goods Depot on 30 June 1909
Ref: mrls668
NRM
A Midland Railway's horse drawn heavy goods delivery vehicle at Lawley Street Goods Depot on 30 June 1909

Another view of one of the Midland Railways' many heavy cart horses used to deliver goods from Lawley Street Goods depot to businesses
Ref: mrls669
NRM
Another MR's horse drawn heavy goods delivery vehicle at Lawley Street Goods Depot on 30 June 1909
View of a MR Austin petrol  delivery vehicle at Lawley Street Goods depot delivering machined castings in 1916
Ref: mrls433
NRM
View of a MR Austin petrol delivery vehicle at Lawley Street Goods depot delivering machined castings in 1916
Lawley Street's new goods shed viewed from the south-east with Landor Street in the foreground
Ref: mrls940
British Railways
Lawley Street's new goods shed viewed from the south-east with Landor Street in the foreground
Close up of some of the LMS' 2,400 cartage vehicles employed within the City of Birmingham
Ref: mrls940a
British Railways
Close up of some of the LMS' 2,400 cartage vehicles employed within the City of Birmingham
Close up showing the traverser moving a covered van across the front of the Lawley Street Depot's shed
Ref: mrls940b
British Railways
Close up showing the traverser moving a covered van across the front of the Lawley Street Depot's shed

Lawley Street's new goods shed viewed from the south-west with the former L & B lines in the foreground
Ref: mrls941
British Railways
Lawley Street's new goods shed viewed from the south-west with the former L & B lines in the foreground
Close up showing the new weighbridge and office and other offices relating to handle freight traffic
Ref: mrls941a
British Railways
Close up showing the new weighbridge and office and other offices relating to handle freight traffic
An internal view of Lawley Street's 1945 single storey shed showing the relative absence of internal supports
Ref: mrls939
British Railways
An internal view of Lawley Street's 1945 single storey shed showing the relative absence of internal supports
View looking towards Saltley showing the new freightliner terminal in the foreground on 6th November 1969
Ref: mrls303
British Railways
View looking towards Saltley showing the new freightliner terminal in the foreground on 6th November 1969
Ex-LMS 0-6-0 Diesel Shunter M7130 is seen at the end of a shunting neck opposite Saltley shed in early 1948
Ref: mrls933
DJ Norton
Ex-LMS 0-6-0 Diesel Shunter M7130 is seen at the end of a shunting neck opposite Saltley shed in early 1948

Ex-LMS 2-8-0 8F No 48538 is coupled to goods brake van D1659 allocated for departmental use on 21st November 1964
Ref: mrls934
TJ Edgington
Ex-LMS 2-8-0 8F No 48538 is coupled to goods brake van D1659 allocated for departmental use
Lawley Street Signal Box 'A' and in the foreground the arrival and departure lines with on the right the yard's offices
Ref: mrls938
RJ Essery
Lawley Street signal box 'A', in the foreground the arrival and departure lines with on the right the yard's offices
Looking north towards Duddeston Mill Road adjacent to the offices with Lawley Street A Signal Box at the end in Spring of 1965
Ref: mrls935
RJ Essery
Looking north towards Duddeston Mill Road adjacent to the offices with Lawley Street A Signal Box at the end in Spring of 1965
View of one of Lawley Street Goods station's many Midland Railway signals updated by the LMS
Ref: mrls936
RJ Essery
View of one of Lawley Street Goods station's many Midland Railway signals updated by the LMS
View of the front of one of Lawley Street's bracket signals fitted with LMS disc signals fitted to the post
Ref: mrls945
RJ Essery
View of the front of one of Lawley Street's bracket signals fitted with LMS disc signals fitted to the post

A rear view of the same Lawley Street bracket signal which had LMS disc signals fitted to the post
Ref: mrls946
RJ Essery
A rear view of the same Lawley Street bracket signal which had LMS disc signals fitted to the post
View of the front of the bracket signal carrying signals No 21 and No 20 controlled by Lawley Street Signal Box B
Ref: mrls943
RJ Essery
View of the front of the bracket signal carrying signals No 21 and No 20 controlled by Lawley Street Signal Box B
Looking north showing the rear of the bracket signal carrying signals No 21 and No 20 and Saltley shed
Ref: mrls937
RJ Essery
Looking north showing the rear of the bracket signal carrying signals No 21 and No 20 and Saltley shed
Looking north towards Duddeston Road Signal Box with Lawley Street A signal box on the right
Ref: mrls942
RJ Essery
Looking north towards Duddeston Road Signal Box with Lawley Street A signal box on the right
Part of an 1873 street map of Birmingham showing the line and principal features of the railways around Lander and Lawley Street
Ref: mrls304
RJ Essery
Part of an 1873 street map of Birmingham showing the main routes of the railways around Lander and Lawley Street

Ordnance survey plan of Lawley Street Goods Station in 1888 prior to the erection of the Midland Railway's 1895 Goods & Grain Warehouse
Ref: mrls674
Ordnance Survey
OS map of Lawley Street Goods Station in 1888 prior to the erection of the MR's 1895 Goods & Grain Warehouse
Ordnance survey map of Lawley Street Goods Station after the erection of the Midland Railway's 1895 Goods & Grain Warehouse
Ref: mrls675
Ordnance Survey
OS map of Lawley Street Goods Station after the erection of the MR's 1895 Goods & Grain Warehouse
A 1938 schematic drawing of Lawley Street goods yard showing the various capacities of the sidings
Ref: mrls944
LMS
A 1938 schematic drawing of Lawley Street goods yard showing the various capacities of the sidings
Plan of of Lawley Street Depot's new shed opened in 1945 and showing the various new features employed
Ref: mrls950
Institute of Civil Engineers
Plan of of Lawley Street Depot's new shed opened in 1945 and showing the various new features employed
General plan showing the relationship of the new shed compared to the 1850 diverted course of the river
Ref: mrls952
Institute of Civil Engineers
General plan showing the relationship of the new shed compared to the 1850 diverted course of the river

Cross section of Lawley Street Depot's Traverser Pit which was located at the rail entrance to the shed
Ref: mrls953
Institute of Civil Engineers
Cross section of Lawley Street Depot's Traverser Pit which was located at the rail entrance to the shed
Schematic diagram of the various signals and turnouts controlled by Lawley Street 'B' signal box
Ref: mrls947
A Overton
Schematic diagram of the various signals and turnouts controlled by Lawley Street 'B' signal box
Map showing Lawley Street Goods Station and its location in respect of the routes to Aston, Derby, London and Gloucester
Ref: Location Map
A Doherty
Map showing Lawley Street Goods Station and its location in respect of the routes to Derby, London and Gloucester

Lawley Street Goods Station - An illustrated History (54) Lawley Street: Modernization of a Goods Depot