As part of my ongoing quest to visit every railway station in Staffordshire, I crossed two very close stations off the list, in the villages of Bilbrook and Codsall, in the very south of Staffordshire.
The trip began at Burton on Trent, as usual, and took me to Birmingham New Street station. I don’t often get the chance to visit New Street station, and I haven’t been since it was rebuilt in recent years. I left the train and walked up the stairs to the new concourse. I didn’t know that the station was now split into three different coloured zones, which meant that I had to leave the blue zone via the ticket gates and re-enter at the green zone to get to my platform. I also had trouble finding platform 4c, a bay platform at the end of platform 4. Fortunately, I had 40 minutes to wait in between trains.
My train was headed towards Shrewsbury, and it stopped off at a couple of stations before it got to Bilbrook, including Wolverhampton. The city of Wolverhampton used to be in Staffordshire until 1974, when it left to join the West Midlands.
Bilbrook railway station opened on the Wolverhampton – Shrewsbury line in April 1934 as Birches and Bilbrook Halt. Shortly after its 40th birthday, it was renamed to just plain Bilbrook. There are no station buildings, and the platforms are staggered either side of a road bridge. There are some nice signs on grassy verges on both platforms, as well as the usual station facilities like help points and waiting shelters.
Bilbrook itself is not a very big village, mostly made up of housing estates and a few shops and schools. I headed up Duck Lane to the village green, with its memorial arch and war memorial.
The arch was erected in 2018 to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, and is carved with local history and information on well-known local people. They include Jim Lea, who was in the band Slade.
My next destination was the Friends of Bilbrook Jubilee Wood, planted in 2012 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The Mill Brook runs alongside it. The rain which had been falling since I got to Birmingham had cleared, and the sun came out for a while.
I left Bilbrook and took a short walk down the Wolverhampton Road to Codsall, their larger neighbour to the west. Codsall is the administrative centre for South Staffordshire, the local council offices being located there. I didn’t have a lot of time to spend in Codsall, because the two trains after the one I needed to get home were both cancelled, so I just had a walk around the Wheel Recreation Ground and visited the local parish church, St. Nicholas’s.
The Lone Singer statue stands close to the centre of the village. It was sculpted by Sir Charles Wheeler, a local boy whose most famous work was the façade of the Bank of England building in London. He died in 1974 and is buried in the village.
I headed to the railway station, seeing as it had started to rain and my train was due. I wasn’t prepared for how magnificent Codsall station is, though.
Codsall railway station opened in 1849. The station buildings are no longer in use, but were converted into a pub at the turn of the millennium, called The Station. The footbridge was added in 1883, and there is access to the other side under the bridge which traverses the road below. The ramp up to platform level is incredibly steep. I wouldn’t want to have to use it when it’s icy. The footbridge was accidentally destroyed in 2005 by contractors using a rail-road crane. Fortunately, replacement parts were cast at a foundry in Wolverhampton, and 70% of the original bridge was salvageable, so they rebuilt it, albeit higher than the original to meet modern regulations.
After waiting in a short downpour, followed by sunshine, the train back to New Street soon arrived, and so I headed back to good old Brum to change trains. After the debacle on the way there, I knew what to do to find my platform this time, and I managed to get home with minimum fuss.
Thanks very much for reading.
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