LMS Route: Birmingham New Street to Tamworth
Tamworth High Level Station: mrthl4122c
Above: A 1929 aerial view of the Tamworth to
Birmingham MR line with part of Kettlebrook Sidings seen beyond the main line.
Below: David Slater's drawing of Kettlebrook sidings.
David Slater writes, 'I was born in a house opposite the
sidings entrance off Kettlebrook road in 1945. From an early age I would watch
the coming and goings into the sidings and the passing trains on the main line.
I can still here the clanking of buffers as loose coupled freight trains
stopped at the signal box and the explosion of detonators on cold foggy nights.
On Saturday afternoons mother cleaned all three offices on the site and I would
go with her excited that we crossed the main line having to be lifted above the
signal wires. The whole area was our playground, the sidings, canal and basin.
On Saturday afternoon and Sundays we would climb the wood stacks, climb in to
the trucks and make dens in the foundry tip area.
On going to junior school, Basin Lane was our main way and
from 7 to 11 we would watch the various activities. I never saw the line to
Gibb & Canning used although my big brother worked there in the early 1940s
and occasionally drove their engine to the sidings. The local goods train would
call most days to shunt the sidings, which in my time was either an 0-6-0 4F
(or a 'Duck Six' as we called it). Train spotting was from the steps of the
Signal Box but we were never invited in, even when on my own. Occasionally I
was invited on to the shunter's footplate but never taken anywhere. By the time
I was eleven, in 1956, the sidings were winding down. All the wood went and the
tracks were lifted on the Kettlebrook side. I also watched deliveries arriving
at the sidings by horse and dray. On one occasion the driver missed the turn
into the yard resoling in his dray hitting the gate post and with him being
thrown onto the horses' backs.
Turner's Asbestos had a steam wagon which would collect and
deliver from the yard. Its sounds as it struggled up the hill to the sidings
fully loaded would scare me to death. The sidings were very busy with
mechanical horses and large articulated wagons collecting timber from the yard.
When I became 19, in 1964, virtually all of the sidings was gone. For the next
five years I used Basin Lane to travel to work in Glascote & Amington.
Eventually the Saw Mill closed with all of its timber taken away. When the
Foundry closed Reliant Cars moved in and closed the lane from the railway
bridge to the basin. I moved away in 1969, returning frequently to see my
mother and family.
The sidings were by then redeveloped with industrial units
built on it and the Goods Shed divided up into units. Reliant Cars eventually
their site so that houses could be built. The railway bridge is now filled in
so that most people living there would never know the sidings existed. Whilst
Dad told me that the Cold Store was used a lot during the Second World war, I
never saw any activity. Having never owned a camera the only photograph of area
I have seen is a 1920s aerial view of Fisher's Paper Mills which shows a little
of the sidings. I feel very lucky to having grown up in that time, freedom to
roam, build dens, take risks but always respectful of the dangers of the
railway, canal and factory sites. We were always playing outside and didn't
money, just sandwiches and a bottle of pop!