Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Traffic Movements on the Stour Valley, 1964

An evening exploring the Tipton area.

Bloomfield Jn. Friday 2nd October 1964

(1) After an enforced break [ ? ] , I return to Bloomfield at 6.0 p.m. The box is much the same. However, in the Up sidings, there is an old, black Engineer's Coach with a tall stovepipe protruding from the roof at one end. Three or four men who are drilling in the area in connection with the electrification are living here.
(2) The traffic is quite brisk: Billy Cook goes Up with 'T90'.
(3) 'T79' from Monument Lane has a full load and blasts past, in front of the Chester.
(4) The 'Type 4' on the Chester coasts past the box, then we get him the road.

After this short interlude I walk to Tipton.

Tipton Station Friday 2nd October 1964

(1) The Up freight has a surprise - it is hauled by a 'Duck 8'. 'Super Ds' now carry a diagonal yellow band on the cab side (you can almost hear the cries of 'Unclean') and are supposed to be prohibited throughout this area, because of the reduced loading gauge with electrified lines.
(2) The Down Mails at ten o'clock are in the charge of a 'Brit', who sounds his siren as he rumbles over the level crossing and creeps onto the slack in advance of the Down Starter.

At 10.30 p.m., I take a gentle walk up to Dudley Port, where changes have come thick and fast.

Changes at Dudley Port Friday 2nd October 1964

About three months ago, the line between Dudley Port and Sedgeley Junction was closed. I rather believe that Tom and I were the last people to use the line for a scheduled service on 20th June 1964. With the passenger traffic already cancelled, this made the working at Sedgely Jn. rather silly. However, about a fortnight ago, there was a fire at Sedgeley Jn. which caused extensive damage to the box, which has since been closed with the 'pegs' left 'off'. Horsley Fields is now open continuously and it appears likely that Sedgeley Junction will never re-open. It really looks like the end of an era on the Dudley Line.

Of course, the working at Dudley Port, which has been slack for some time, dropped right off and, after the remodelling, the Dudley Port signalman has a boxful of white levers [white levers are 'spare'] to attend! The arrangement shown below was used for some weeks:-

(Click on above image to enlarge)

However, to enable contractors to pull down the old Down platform and build the new, permanent island platform, a new, temporary Down platform has been provided and the existing Up platform has been shortened. The arrangement I found was:-

(Click on above image to enlarge)

The new, temporary Down platform is 300 feet long and accommodates almost five coaches. The platform surface is wood, ashphalted over. Wooden posts and wires fence off the adjacent Up line and various 'DUDLEY PORT' signs from the old station have been provided, together with two station seats. There is a scaffolding and wire mesh footbridge linking the platform to the shortened Up platform. The Down platform has a diminuitive wooden-framed waiting room near the footbridge with walls of semi-opaque 'Perspex'. The 'shack' and the platform is provided with electric lights and there are good views of the under-used signal box.

Dudley Port - Wolverhampton Friday 2nd October 1964

The trip back to Wolverhampton (‘Type 4’ in charge, Sleepers up front) is punctuated by 15 m.p.h. slacks. The thought arises that this may not be the most unpleasant way of getting from Dudley Port to Wolverhampton, but it must be the slowest!

At Wolverhampton, colour light signals (not yet in use) are sprouting everywhere and the station forecourt yard is now being excavated, presumably for an additional down line.[In fact, no additional through line was introduced then – only three platform lines remained and the old Down and Up Goods Lines were lost. It was many years before a fourth through platform was provided and this was on the Up side. But some reversible working of the platforms was introduced].