Wolverhampton Low Level railway station

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This article is about the former GWR station. For the current station, see Wolverhampton railway station.
Wolverhampton Low Level
Wolverhampton Low Level Exterior.JPG
Main Entrance, January 2006
Location
Place Wolverhampton
Area Wolverhampton
Coordinates 52°35′17″N 2°07′05″W / 52.588°N 2.118°W / 52.588; -2.118Coordinates: 52°35′17″N 2°07′05″W / 52.588°N 2.118°W / 52.588; -2.118
Operations
Pre-grouping Great Western Railway
Platforms 5
History
1854 Opened as Wolverhampton Joint
1856 Renamed to Wolverhampton Low Level
1922 Station mostly rebuilt
1972 Closed to passenger traffic
1981 Closed to goods traffic
2006 Large parts of station demolished
Disused railway stations in the United Kingdom
Closed railway stations in Britain
A B C D–F G H–J K–L M–O P–R S T–V W–Z
Portal icon UK Railways portal
The 'Inter-City' arrives in 1958

Wolverhampton Low Level was a railway station on Sun Street, in Springfield, Wolverhampton, England (grid reference SO920989).

It was built by the Great Western Railway, on their route from London (Paddington) to Birkenhead via Birmingham (Snow Hill). It was the most northerly broad gauge station on the Great Western network.

Design[edit]

the OWRR's engineer, John Fowler, designed the frontage, while the GWR's Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed the layout.[1]

The station building is storeys high and constructed of Staffordshire blue brick in Italianate style, which is an unusual combination but the blue brick was abundant in the area in the 19th century. The design of the station was similar to that of the earlier High Level station. The main building has a large pediment; tall, round-headed, pedimented windows with ashlar brackets on the first floor which the main entrance on the ground floor. Plainer wings extend to either side of the main building which protrude to the front. The interior of the former booking hall continues the Italianate theme, with a high, coved ceiling and full-height cornices. The interior was carefully restored in the early 2000s.[1]

History[edit]

The station opened in 1854, although construction was not completed until late 1855. The station was built jointly by the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway (OWWR) and the Great Western Railway (GWR). The station was initially called Wolverhampton Joint and was renamed to Wolverhampton Low Level in April 1856, at the same time as the nearby London and North Western Railway station was renamed from Wolverhampton Queen Street to Wolverhampton High Level.[1]

The station was converted to standard gauge in 1869, and remained basically the same until 1922, when new booking office was built within the booking hall, and a new telegraph department was added to the stationmaster's office. The platforms were extended and the passenger footbridge was replaced. The overall roof had corroded badly and was replaced with standard GWR platform canopies.[1]

In July 1939, an Irish Republican Army bomb exploded at the station, wrecking the parcels office area.[2]

Closure[edit]

Closure of the station was made likely by the West Coast Mainline electrification scheme in the 1960s which included the Stour Valley Line and a new High Level station. From late 1963 to March 1967 the Low Level saw a considerable increase in traffic, but this was only while the electrification work was in progress, and many services were temporarily diverted away from High Level.

When the Stour Valley Line reopened, the services through Low Level were quickly reduced. The last Paddington to Birkenhead express ran in March 1967, and in 1968 Shrewsbury services switched to the High Level. By 1970, the only services left running from Low Level were local trains to Birmingham Snow Hill. This service ceased in 1972.

In 1970, the station was converted to a Parcels Concentration Department. Much of the trackwork was removed, the north signal box was demolished and the platforms were greatly modified. It opened on 6 April 1970 and was very successful, handling up to 8,000 parcels each day.

However, British Rail's policy on parcel handling soon changed, and the station was closed on 12 June 1981.[1]

Platforms and trackbed, prior to redevelopment, January 2006.
A general view of the southern end of Wolverhampton lower level station in the year 2000.

The building was listed as Grade II on 25 March 1986.[3] It remained as the British Rail Divisional Engineer's Department until it was purchased by Wolverhampton Council in May 1986, who immediately renovated and preserved the exterior. Meanwhile, the route of the trackbed between Bushbury and Birmingham Snow Hill was preserved in case of future reopening of the line.

Redevelopment[edit]

During the 1980s and 1990s, there were several proposals for redevelopment of the site, including re-opening the station and converting the station into a transport museum, but none came to fruition.

In 1999, the Midland Metro tramway opened, using most of the GWR route between Wolverhampton and Birmingham, but this turns towards the centre of Wolverhampton to run along the A41 Bilston Road before reaching Low Level.

Redevelopment of the Low Level station site began in 2006, retaining the main station building (which is a listed building) whilst the remainder of the station, including the former main southbound platform is being demolished to make way for a 'mixed use' retail, hotel and residential development. This redevelopment of the station is now (January 2009) mostly complete. The station building itself was destined to become a casino. This has now fallen through. [1] The station (now restored) is currently home to an Art Gallery, although this is due to end 31 July 2010.[2] The station building is now (late 2012) being transformed into a banqueting hall. [3]

Station surrounds[edit]

Several other structures associated with the station are listed buildings. A tall, blue-brick retaining wall and subway lead beneath the High Level tracks to the station, originally built as a shortcut between the two stations and known as "the colonnades". The brickowrk on the interior is glazed white, and has decorative iron railings mounted to it The wall and subway form a grade II listed building.[1][4]

Preceding station Disused railways Following station
Terminus   Great Western Railway
"The Wombourne Branch" (1925-1932)
  Dunstall Park
Terminus Great Western Railway
Wolverhampton-Shrewsbury (1854-1968)
Priestfield   Great Western Railway
Later British Rail
Birmingham-Wolverhampton (1854-1972)
  Terminus
Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway
Later Great Western Railway, then British Rail
Oxford-Worcester-Wolverhampton (1852-1962)
Terminus

References[edit]

External links[edit]