Birmingham Snow Hill Railway Station
Serving the City of Birmingham's business and shopping areas. Train/Metro interchange.
In 1846 Parliament authorised the then 'Birmingham and Oxford Railway' to construct a second railway route between London and Birmingham. The railway was initially built to Isambard Kingdom Brunel's seven-foot and one quarter Broad Gauge line. A temporary wooden structure was erected at Birmingham Snow Hill to serve as a station.
In 1854 a new railway line to the north opened, connecting Wolverhampton to Birmingham. By 1868 all trains were being operated on the standard gauge of four foot, eight and one-half inches.
Opposite the main entrance to Birmingham Snow Hill station is the Great Western Arcade built-in 1876 over the new railway line cutting at the south (London) end of the station. Initially, the line to London Paddington ran through a tunnel which stopped at Temple Row and then an open cutting to Snow Hill station. The cutting was covered in 1874, with the Great Western Arcade built on top. The alignment of the new 'tunnel' is offset slightly to the north of the arcade's centre. The extended tunnel is 545 metres long. The arcade was designed by W. H. Ward of Paradise Street, Birmingham.
With rail traffic increasing, the Great Western Railway decided that Birmingham, which did not achieve city status until 1889, needed a more substantial station.
Between 1906 and 1912, Birmingham Snow Hill station was transformed into the most modern mainline railway station of its time with no expense was spared. The GWR station survived until 1972 despite being bombed by the Luftwaffe in World War II.
After WWII, passenger usage soared, peaking in 1960 as the station handled some of Britain's best-known trains such as 'The Inter City', The Cambrian Coast Express' and 'The Cornishman'. GWR 'Kings' and GWR and Western-built 'Castles' steam locomotive hauled these crack express passenger services until 1967.
The West Coast Main Line's electrification, which included the London Euston to Birmingham New Street route, meant that Snow Hill's days as a premier station were numbered. The station continued to serve a local train service to and from Wolverhampton Low Level until 1972 when the station was finally closed. Many lamented the demolition of GWR's station, calling it an act of 1970s vandalism.
However, increased public transport usage reversed the closure with a new railway station opening at Snow Hill in 1987.
The final steam-hauled express service left Birmingham Snow Hill in 1967, hauled by '7029 Clun Castle'. This locomotive remains in use on the mainline today and is part of and operated by Vintage Trains based at nearby Tyseley. The steam-hauled Shakespeare Express operates between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stratford upon Avon at selected times and dates in the year.
Birmingham Snow Hill Railway Station, Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2BJ