Snow Hill to Handsworth Walk
On 5 October 1987, a much smaller Birmingham Snow Hill station (originally closed on 6 March 1972) was opened for services to Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon. The aspiration at that time was to reopen the line between Snow Hill and Smethwick Junction to create a cross-city line.
On 21 October 1990, a charity walk was organised to enable people to walk the proposed new line as far as Handsworth and Smethwick railway station. The fee for each walker was £1, with The Sunday Mercury Give a Child Health Fund, The Birmingham Mail Christmas Tree Fund and the BBC Children In Need Appeal benefitting from the proceeds.
A shuttle train service ferried walkers from Handsworth and Smethwick station along the remaining single track stub of the line to Smethwick West station, where it reversed to drop walkers off at New Street station.
The following photographs were taken that day.
Looking back towards Snow Hill station. Within 5 years, trains would be passing over the spot from where the photograph was taken.
Approaching Livery Street bridge with the site of St Paul’s tram stop to the right of the photographer. This is one of the bridges that had to be rebuilt before the line could reopen.
After passing under Livery Street and Kenyon Street, a short brick-lined cutting takes us towards Hockley No 1 tunnel.
Inside Hockley No 1 tunnel.
Emerging from the darkness of Hockley No 1 tunnel with a short cutting before entering Hockley No 2 tunnel.
Standing between the two tunnels and looking back towards Hockley No 1 tunnel.
It’s hard to believe that this is now the site of Jewellery Quarter station and tram stop.
The remains of Hockley station. The platform edge was demolished before the Jewellery Line opened.
Looking back towards Snow Hill having passed under the bridge at Lodge Road between Jewellery Quarter and the Metro stop at Soho (Benson Road).
The point where the electrified line from Soho Junction to Perry Barr Junction crosses the line. The Metro stop at Winson Green, Outer Circle was built just behind the camera.
The end of the walk at Handsworth and Smethwick station. The line in the foreground is still in use as a goods line to Cooper’s Metals sidings.
The platform faces at Handsworth and Smethwick station were still in good order but it would be completely demolished before the line reopened, with the Handsworth Booth Street tram stop built in its place.
Looking from the platform at Handsworth and Smethwick station. The station at The Hawthorns is now in the far distance after the second bridge.
The train back to New Street very slowly traverses the line close to The Hawthorns station. There was a speed limit of 15 mph all the way to Smethwick West station.
The ticket that allowed participants to walk from Snow Hill to Handsworth and return by shuttle train to New Street.