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Standing on the footplate at Willenhall sidings

By john workman  |  Posted: January 19, 2012

The railway line running towards Wednesfield, with the Weldless Steel Tube factory in the distance.

The railway line running towards Wednesfield, with the Weldless Steel Tube factory in the distance.

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ARTICLES by Stan Warner in Bugles 1000 and 1006 relating to Stafford Street railway station in Willenhall, inspired Terence Tranter from Wednesfield to write his own reminiscences of that particular railway: “On its way from Willenhall to Wednesfield and Wolverhampton, the railway line passed by the playing field at Willenhall Memorial Park.

Three of my boyhood friends and myself, all from Pinson Road, often frequented the park and leaned on the fence to watch the shunters working at the station sidings. On one occasion Edgar, my mate from next door, suggested we ask the loco crew if we could step up on the footplate, and he being the bravest shouted across to the crew, who to our astonishment shouted back ‘OK’.

“So Edgar and I, full of excitement, climbed over the fence and before you knew it we were standing on the footplate.

As it happened the crew had nearly finished their manoeuvres, but had one last trip to make into the sidings, and as we were carried along they told us about cooking bacon and eggs on a shovel and allowed us to try our hand at putting coal into the firebox, most of which, in my case, finished up on the footplate.

“Before leaving for Wednesfield the driver said he couldn’t take us any further, so thanking the crew very much we rejoined our other friends in the playing field with a tale or two to tell.

“As a young boy I attended Clothier Street Infants and Junior School in Willenhall and my route from home to school took me over the bridge (known to me as Midland Bridge) that featured in Stan’s first article. There was a wooden door in the bridge parapet adjacent to the station premises, and through a hand hole — to reach the latch securing the gate — could be seen steps leading down to one of the platforms.

The position of the door can still be seen today where there is a freshly bricked-up section on the bridge.

“After the line was closed the track was lifted between Walsall and Willenhall, but from the western outskirts of Willenhall to Wolverhampton the track was retained, but as far as I know it was not used. There were reports, I believe in the 1970s, stating the possibility of the line being reopened for rolling stock to service a factory in Wednesfield still referred to by some as the Weldless Steel Tube. However this idea never came to fruition and the track was finally removed in the 1980s.

“In the years between the end of the Second World War and the closure of the line it was quite a busy goods station.

I recall a new siding being installed with access from Field Street, handling mainly scrap metal I believe, and living in Pinson Street I also recall the early morning clip-clop of horses hooves as they hauled LMS type flat bed wagons laden with raw materials for local industry.

“What happy memories from my youthful days! I’m sure Stan and I would welcome photographs of the actual goods yard. Can anyone in Bugle land oblige?”

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