WHAT an experience it must have been catching the 10.42 train from Worcester to the Black Country 157 years ago and being pulled by a snorting, smoke billowing engine of the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway.
The clock on the platform at Shrub Hill, now preserved at the National Railway Museum in York, would provide the time, and a timetable situated somewhere close by would give an indication of when the next train was due. For this relatively new phenomenon of catching a train, rather than taking a stage coach or any other means of horse-drawn transportation, the anticipation of an iron horse entering the station with steam gushing from all quarters must have been incredible.
It was probably going to be a dirty and very uncomfortable experience, crammed into small carriages for second and third class passengers, with no finesse or comfort, possibly open to the elements, and getting covered in soot blown down the track from the iron horse up front. But what an adventure it must have been.
For many folk enjoying a first time on the OWWR, it was a jaw dropping experience to peer out from the carriage window and view the open countryside as far as the eye could see flashing by, and see the industrial smog, low lying and lingering over the Black Country, getting ever closer, where they imagined countless numbers of men and women toiling hard in the face of the furnace, at the forge, or down the mine.
First class travel was available for those who could afford it with a modicum of comfort, allowing clothes to remain clean and hair unruffled, but the exhilaration of travelling at high speed, or the fear of the unknown was the same for everyone.
According to the timetable, presented free to each purchaser of the Brierley Hill Advertiser and South Staffordshire Mining District Journal, return tickets could be issued to first and second class passengers, to go and return any distance in the same day. And from Worcester to Dudley the train would stop at Fearnall Heath, Droitwich, Hartlebury, Kidderminster, Churchill, Hagley, Stourbridge, Brettell Lane, Brierley Hill, Round Oak and Netherton stations, before arrival at Dudley approximately one hour twenty-five minutes later.