Cross-City Line – Bournville and Kings Norton

On a grey and cold March Monday morning, I took a couple of trains down the Cross-City Line to visit Bournville and Kings Norton stations, and the villages which they serve.

This would be my third time in Bournville; my first was a school trip to Cadbury World in the summer of 1996, and the second was back in 2019 when I was just starting my travels by rail. I took a train down there, walked around a bit and got lost, ended up in Stirchley, ate some dinner in a park and went home. I didn’t think to take any photos at the time, so I felt that I had to go back to explore a bit more of the village.

Bournville railway station first opened as Stirchley Street in 1876. It was renamed Stirchley Street and Bournville in 1880, and took on its present name in 1904. The original station buildings were demolished and replaced in 1978 with the current station when it became part of the Cross-City Line. Bournville is unique on the line for being painted purple, the company colours of Cadbury’s. The Worcester and Birmingham Canal runs alongside the southbound platform. The building at street level houses a ticket office, though there is also a ticket machine.

The village of Bournville is a model village designed and built by the Cadbury family for its workers at the Cadbury confectionary factory. The family were Quakers, and their anti-alcohol beliefs meant that there were (and still are) no pubs in the village.

Just to the north west of the factory is the Bournville village green, with its distinctive Bournville Rest House building taking centre stage. In front of the green is a row of shops, with the Bournville Parish Church, St Francis of Assisi on the corner.

The Bournville Rest House was built to celebrate the silver wedding anniversary of George and Elizabeth Cadbury, and was paid for by the employees of Cadbury’s. Selly Manor is a Tudor museum showing what life was like 500 years ago. I would have liked to have had a look around, but my impeccable record of turning up at museums on the days they are closed continued. If you are in the area and would like to visit the museum (but not on a Monday), their website is the place to go for information.

The Cadbury family wanted Bournville to be a pleasant place for their workers and families to live. They also were keen to provide sports and leisure facilities for them, to promote health and fitness, and there are no shortage of parks and open spaces in and around the village.

Across the road from the factory’s recreation grounds is Bournville Park, a fairly basic park with children’s play equipment, pathways and The Bourn river flowing through it, after which the village was named. To the south of Cadbury’s factory is Cadbury Park. According to reviews on Google, the park is “pleasant and well-maintained”. I probably visited on a bad day, because it looked neglected and run-down when I was there.

To the south of Bournville is Cotteridge Park, an open space popular with dog walkers and home to the mysterious “Shed”, where various activities take place, including men aged over 50 plotting “world domination” every weekday from 11am, according to a poster in the park.

From the park, I walked to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, the very same one which sits next to Bournville station. Construction of the canal began in 1792 and the final section opened in December 1815. The canal is mostly used for leisure these days, but was used for industry in its heyday, particularly by Cadbury’s. There are still a few old industrial buildings to be seen on the canal.

At the end of my walk on the canal was the Wall of Hope. It was created in May 2020 during the Covid-19 lockdown when local children fixed inspiring messages of hope to the fence and encouraged others to do likewise, bringing some joy to people during that bleak time.

The Wall of Hope

I walked through the nearby Kings Norton playing fields on my way to yet another park, Kings Norton Park. In 1920, the Birmingham Civic Society bought the land close to the church of St Nicolas, and presented it to the people of Kings Norton to be used as a public park.

Near to the park is St Nicolas’s Church, the current building of which dates from the 13th Century. The spire was built from 1446 to 1475. I had a walk around the outside of the church, and spotted an old timber-framed building called The Saracen’s Head, which is currently home to a few local shops. It won the BBC series Restoration in 2004, a series where buildings vied for a £3million National Lottery Grant to help with their restoration.

One of the curates at St Nicolas’s Church was the Reverend Wilbert Vere Awdry, better known as W.V. Awdry, the writer of the Railway Series books which were later adapted to the Thomas the Tank Engine TV series, which leads nicely on to my final destination of the trip, Kings Norton railway station.

Kings Norton railway station opened in 1849 on the Camp Hill Line and was expanded in 1885 when the Birmingham West Suburban Railway, the forerunner to the Cross-City Line, opened. The Camp Hill line was closed as a temporary measure in World War II, and was made permanent after the war. However, work is progressing on re-opening the line from Kings Norton to Birmingham New Street.

The station had four platforms, but only two remain open; platforms 1 and 4. The station was rebuilt in 1978 in the style of the other stations on the Cross-City Line, and the original station building was demolished in 2006 due to safety concerns. As can be seen in the phots above, it could do with a bit of tidying up. The service from Kings Norton to Birmingham is regular, and I didn’t have long to wait for a train back to Birmingham New Street, from where I caught the train back to good old Burton on Trent.

If you made it this far in this extended post, then thanks very much for reading.


4 thoughts on “Cross-City Line – Bournville and Kings Norton

Leave a Reply to John’s Postcards Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s