The new M6 takes its toll?
All change at Chasewater
4 May 2003  
Back Contact Geoff
The Chasewater Railway is one of the country's oldest preservation schemes, starting up in 1959 as the Railway Preservation Society (West Midlands District), gathering together a most interesting collection of some of the lesser bits and pieces of railwayana - from tiny industrial locomotives to ancient 4- and 6-wheeled coaches. Its site, near Brownhills in Staffordshire, was somewhat cramped, and the line short, but it nevertheless pottered along over the years, gradually expanding its running line on former colliery railways around the shores of Chasewater lake, itself a relic from the industrial revolution. I first visited the site in 1968, then in the early 70s as a short excursion from Birmingham, and occasionally over the intervening years. Nothing seemed to change too much. The former colliery waste tips were landscaped, and no longer smoulder underfoot; the area became "Chasewater Country Park".... ....and then came the BNRR - Birmingham Northern Relief Road, the infamous M6 toll road - cutting straight through between the line's depot and station, and most of the rest of its line. The old headquarters were swept away, and funds became available for building new stations and a fine new 6-road display shed (still under construction) for all those aged vehicles, some of which
Geoff’s Rail Diaries
have barely been holding their own against the weather and old age. What a change! We joined the train - consisting of two ex-DMU cars and a fine little Sentinel (9632 of 1957) - at Brownhills West, for a leisurely trip to Chasewater Heaths, another fine new building housing the line's bookshop. Beyond this station, the track extends a little further to what will become (later this year) the terminus. We walked back! It's not far - a little over a mile, and quite a pleasant route beside the lake, with views to the line where our train trundled back to Brownhills West. There was just time for a quick snap of the next departure, before tea and excellent home made cakes ("There's a quarter of a pint of rum in the fruit cake") in the station buffet. Lastly, a quick look at the latest venture on the site - a collection of narrow gauge equipment is being assembled, with the intention to create a line linking the station at Brownhills West with the main entrance to Chasewater Country Park - what a great idea! An excellent, inexpensive short afternoon's entertainment - if you're in the area, go and have a look at what they're doing, and help to complete the change at Chasewater Link: Chasewater Railway
Sentinel and train, Brownhills West RH 458641 of 1963, alias BR 11517, Brownhills West Brownhills West station Sentinel at Chasewater Heaths "..trundling back to Brownhills" "...the next departure from Brownhills West" Brownhills West station Under construction - the 2' gauge project Lister Blackstone 52726 of 1961 "Bolton Fell" "aged vehicles...barely been holding their own"