Snow Hill Station (Great Western Railway) :: Shared Description

Snow Hill Station was the Great Western Railway's main station in Birmingham. First opened in 1852 it was rebuilt & enlarged several times culminating in the magnificent building completed in 1912 at the height of the GWR's Edwardian zenith.

The station was on a restricted site which limited the way in which it could be enlarged. To the east & west were the steeply sloping roads of Snow Hill & Livery Street which prevented the station being widened. To the south the railway line passed under Colmore Row in a tunnel which prevented extension southwards. Lengthening to the north was the only means of enlargement.

The 1912 enlargement provided two island platforms which gave 4 platform faces, each of more than 1000ft, bridging over Great Charles Street. This length, & the revised signalling & pointwork, allowed 2 trains to be handled at the same time at each platform face, so the 4 faces provided a total of 8 platforms. In addition there were bays at the north end of both islands providing an additional 4 platforms for local trains. The station entrance & booking office were on Colmore Row - so above the level of the platforms which were accessed by wide footways & stairways. On the platforms were refreshment & waiting rooms. For about half their length the platforms were covered by an overall roof of ridge & furrow type. The central portion above the tracks was left uncovered to allow steam & smoke to escape. For the remaining lengths of the platforms canopys provided protection from Birmingham weather.

Snow Hill was situated on the mainline from Paddington. Main-line trains headed north for Wolverhamption, Shrewsbury, & then onto Chester & Birkenhead or mid & north Wales. Cross-country trains headed south through Stratford-on-Avon to Cheltenham & Gloucester where they might head on to Bristol & the south west, or on to Cardiff & South Wales. South-bound trains might also head through Oxford & Reading to south coast ports & resorts. In addition there was a busy service of local trains: south to Leamington & Stratford, west to Kidderminster & Worcester, north to Wolverhampton.

It all seemed so permanent; however the railway rationalisation of the 1960s shattered that illusion. First, on 6th March 1967 all main-line traffic was transferred to the newly rebuilt New Street Station with its new electric service to London Euston. The local services were whittled away: from 4 March 1968 all such south-bound services through Colmore Row tunnel terminated at Moor Street station just south of the tunnel. That meant the virtual closure of Snow Hill; all that were left were 2 services, to Langley Green & Wolverhampton Low Level operated by single-coach railcars. Tickets were sold by the guard so in effect the once splendid Snow Hill was reduced to the status of an unstaffed Halt! Finally, on 4th March 1972 the inevitable happened & these last 2 services were withdrawn. After a few years of dereliction & use as a car park the station was demolished in 1977.

Happily Snow Hill station has been reborn, but of course on a less grand scale. From 5th October 1987 a newly-rebuilt station opened for services south through the tunnel to Leamington & Stratford. Subsequently, in 1993, a service to London Marylebone was introduced. Then in 1995 the service to Kidderminster & Worcester was reintroduced.


by Martin Tester
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7 images use this description:

SP0687 : Snow Hill Station (Great Western Railway) by Martin Tester
SP0687 : Snow Hill Station (Great Western Railway) by Martin Tester
SP0687 : Snow Hill Station (GWR) - running for the train by Martin Tester
SP0687 : Old entrance to Snow Hill Station, Livery Street, Birmingham by habiloid
SP0687 : Snow Hill Station (Great Western Railway) by Martin Tester
SP0787 : Snow Hill Station, Birmingham by habiloid
SP0687 : Snow Hill Station (GWR) - the last services by Martin Tester


These Shared Descriptions are common to multiple images. For example, you can create a generic description for an object shown in a photo, and reuse the description on all photos of the object. All descriptions are public and shared between contributors, i.e. you can reuse a description created by others, just as they can use yours.
Created: Mon, 5 Nov 2018, Updated: Mon, 25 Feb 2019

The 'Shared Description' text on this page is Copyright 2018 Martin Tester, however it is specifically licensed so that contributors can reuse it on their own images without restriction.

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