Welcome to the first post in a new series for the blog, where I attempt to visit all 25 railway stations on the Cross-City Line. The line runs from Lichfield Trent Valley station in the north to two southern termini; Redditch in the east and Bromsgrove in the west, via Birmingham New Street station.
There is some overlap with stations I have visited as part of my quest to visit all the stations in Staffordshire, namely Lichfield Trent Valley, Lichfield City and Shenstone. I have also been to University and Bournville stations, although that was pre-blog, so I will have to go there again.
On Thursday 19th January 2023, I caught the train from Burton on Trent to Birmingham New Street, and then caught a Class 323 electric train down to the southern terminus of the Cross-City Line at Bromsgrove. The stations are fairly close together, and it took less than forty minutes to get to Bromsgrove from New Street.
Bromsgrove railway station is the baby of the Cross-City Line, having only opened in July 2016. It replaced an old station just to the north of the new station which was built in 1969, itself replacing the original station on the same site which first opened in 1840. The shiny new station has four platforms, is fully accessible with lifts to all platforms, has a staffed ticket office and a bicycle storage facility. Bromsgrove was added as a terminus to the Cross-City Line in 2018 after the electrification of the track was completed.
I left the station, which is located on the edge of the town, to walk to the town centre. I stopped off for a look at a church on the way, St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, built in 1858.
A shirt walk away from the church is Sanders Park. The park covers 16.3 hectares, and is named for the Sanders Family who donated the land for the benefit of the health and wellbeing of the people of Bromsgrove. The park was opened in 1968 and boasts a wealth of facilities. There is a bowling green and tennis courts which can be hired, a café and information centre, children’s play areas and a bandstand. Three long walks begin at the park, the Royal Hunters Walks, which range from five to twelve miles.
Also in the park is Green Man Walking, a sculpture installed in 2002. The sculpture is in three parts, but at a certain angle, it depicts a “green man” as seen on a pedestrian crossing.
I couldn’t get a better angle of the sculpture because of the low sun, but I’m sure you get the idea. After finishing my walk around the park, which was bustling with dog-walkers and people enjoying the sun, despite the cold weather, I headed for the main parish church of Bromsgrove, St John’s.
The church dates from the 13-14th century, although it was partially rebuilt in 1858. Just across the road from the church is Bromsgrove Old Cemetery, in which the actor Pat Roach, of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet fame, is buried. After a long search based on vague directions I had found, I was unable to locate his grave. Although he had a West Country accent when he played Bomber in the hit 1980s series, he was actually born in Birmingham, and died in July 2004 in Bromsgrove.
Pat Roach isn’t the only famous person associated with Bromsgrove, though. J.R.R. Tolkien’s mother Mabel is buried in Bromsgrove. I did actually notice her grave and wondered if she was related to J.R.R, and it turns out she was. Also from Bromsgrove are the singer and actor Michael Ball (who finished second at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1992), Nichola Charles off of Neighbours (she played Sarah Beaumont, who had an affair with Karl Kennedy), Alan Smith, the former Arsenal and England footballer and pundit, and Trudie Styler, the actress who is also Sting’s wife.
Sadly, my fruitless grave search ate into my time, and I didn’t have a lot of time to make the train home before it got too late in the afternoon. I had to make a half hour walk back to the station from the town centre, although I did spot a Tudor House on the way.
The house was built in 1572 and was a coaching inn called the Hop Pole. It was originally located in nearby High Street and was demolished in 1840 to improve access to the new railway station. However, those clever Victorians kept all the pieces and re-erected it in 1867. In 2016, it was repaired and restored to its former glory.
I made it back to the station just in time to catch the train back to New Street, where I then proceeded to walk the wrong way to the stairs to the concourse to get to the platform I needed. I will get better at navigating Birmingham New Street station, I’m sure.
That’s all for this post, thanks very much for reading.