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Author Topic: Birmingham Knotmore Street  (Read 7698 times)

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Offline railsquid

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Birmingham Knotmore Street
« on: December 31, 2015, 11:44:21 pm »
Moor Street

During the first decade of the previous century in the historical timeline which, by general consensus, the collective hive mind of this forum deigns to accept as objective reality, the GWR constructed a small but well-appointed terminus station for local trains and freight originating on its North Warwickshire line south of Birmingham, to reduce congestion in the Snow Hill Tunnel leading to the eponymous mainline station.

Known as "Moor Street", this two and later three platform station witnessed the decline of the GWR's main line through the West Midlands conurbation in the post-war years, and in 1967 with the remaining services being diverted to New Street, the grim reaping of Beeching's Axe condemned it to the ultimate fate of closure. Miraculously it survived those dark days of the late 60s and 70s, being resuscitated as a decrepit DMU shack for decrepit suburban services diverted away from the increasingly congested concrete bunker masquerading as New Street (though the through-tracks to the closed Snow Hill still rusted away alongside the run-down terminal platforms).

A further revival in its fortunes came in 1987 with the reopening of Snow Hill station, resulting in new platforms in classic 80's bus shelter vernacular being constructed alongside the through-lines. This did mean that the original terminus platforms, were closed once again to continued their briefly interrupted decline, but incredibly this turned out to be the start of a veritable renaissance which would see Moor Street restored and expanded in classic GWR style, serving as the Birmingham terminus for fast trains from London, with local trains running via Snow Hill on the "Jewellery Line".

Knotmore Street

In an alternative universe far far away yet at the same time just around the corner from this one, the GWR constructed a small but well-appointed terminus station for local trains and freight originating on its North Warwickshire line south of Birmingham to reduce congestion in the Snow Hill tunnel  leading to the eponymous mainline station. (However quite early in the station's existence it was decided it would make sense to add platforms to the through-lines, enabling certain longer-distance services to stop here as well).

Known as "Knotmore Street", it survived the war and nationalisation largely intact, with trains and service patterns still showing their GWR origins, albeit with an increasing mixture of LMS-derived and BR standard stock. During the early 1960s it briefly cowered under the shadow of something known to historians as "Beeching's Axe", named after the first Chairman of British Railways Board, one Dr Richard Beeching, remembered in some parts as the author of a largely forgotten report outlining plans for radical cutbacks to the railway network. While it is generally agreed that some aspects of the report made sense, perusal of "alternative histories" outlining what could have happened had the recommendations of the original report and those of a rumoured "Plan II" been carried out in full, is not recommended to those easily distressed. (An unfortunate catering incident during trials of prototypes for the Mk1 British Rail Sandwich resulted in the said Dr. being declared clinically insane, and it is said he eked out the remainder of his years in an asylum ward, his only possessions a large box of Triang track and an inflatable toy sledgehammer).

Meanwhile much attention was paid to the ambitious 1965 Modernisation Plan, which both built on and learnt from the mistakes of the 1955 Plan. While it was too late to correct many of the locomotive procurement errors, much emphasis was placed on integrating the former "Big Four" networks into a coherent whole. Although many superfluous lines and facilities were rigorously culled, but formerly competing trunk routes were, where feasible, rebuilt and rationalised to complement one another, providing improved local and regional services feeding passengers into the wider network and providing redundancy for diversions.

The GWR main line through the Midlands conurbation was one such route; though scheduled for gradual retirement once the initial WCML upgrade was complete, its utility as an alternative route became apparent, particularly as it was realised that New Street would require a further intensive upgrade in the future (the initial modernisation was later recognised as an ineffective compromise, merging the original LNWR and MR stations into one without adequate provision for the needs of a modern commuter and intercity network). For the rebuild (ultimately delayed until the 1980s and which placed the commuter routes in tunnels on a lower level, vastly reducing congestion by removing many conflicting paths) part of the route via Knotmore Street and Snow Hill was electrified so it could serve as a viable WCML diversion (strategic chords at Bordesley and Adderley Park having already been added under the 1965 plan).

The line southwards via Stratford to Cheltenham, serving largely rural areas and suffering a massive downturn in agricultural freight traffic, came closer to the chop, but interested parties such as the GWS were vocal in campaigning for its retention and it was happily reprieved under an innovative arrangement which saw the running lines and long-distance services in the section between Honeybourne and Cheltenham remain under BR management but with stations and ancilliary facilities operated by the newly formed G&WR, who run local trains on the line with preserved heritage stock. Ultimately this was to become part of the "Heritage Crescent Route", a loose alliance of historically-orientated lines stretching from Bewdley in the north via Knotmore Street and Tyseley connecting through to various locations in the south.

A visitor from our timeline travelling back to Knotmore Street as it was in the mid-1980s would therefore find a station looking very similar to the Moor Street of 2015 - even the GWR running boards have been restored, after a brie period in BR corporate identity during the 1970s. He or she will look in vain for Class 116/117/118 DMUs, though other first-generation vehicles will still be around, fast being supplanted by "Sprinters" and the like. In a reversal from GWR days, long-distance services (still loco-hauled) from Marylebone terminate here, while local trains are prioritised on the Snow Hill route, though many free paths are currently dedicated for diversions from the WCML during the ongoing work at New Street. BR Blue still dominates, with sectorisation liveries creeping in, including the odd NSE interloper. Very occasionally BR's marketing department allows locomotives to be resprayed in advertising liveries for a lucrative fee, explaining occasional sightings of a class 87 in the branding of one of Richard Branson's many enterprises (though it is anticipated it will revert to its traditional blue very soon).

However, on some days the station is enveloped in a mysterious fog, which clears away to reveal a scene straight out of the transition era, with green and maroon sweeping away the blue (except maybe the Nanking shade?) and the odd kettle puffing away to and from a variety of destinations, particularly to the South West on passenger, excursion and mixed-freight workings.

Why (not) Moor Street?
Due to suffering from a historically itenerant family I'm always at a bit of a loss to say where I "come from", but I spend many of my formative years in the Worcestershire/Warwickshire/South Birmingham area, and it was only natural that my trainspotting days were centred on Birmingham New Street with regular side-trips to exotic locations such as Stafford, Bescot and Saltley.

Consequently my British "railway orientation" is mainly "industrial Midland/Western region border territory" ("East" and "South" are pretty foreign to me, though I do like them teak coaches and would love to acquire a rake of those electric self-propelling Mk1s), and when searching for a location for the British section of my own personal railway, somewhere in this area is appealling. New Street itself is a bit too big to think about modelling, but something Moor Street-ish would fit nicely in the triangular space I have available. I don't recall ever visiting it in my 80's spotting heydays, but did make frequent use of the route from Marylebone in the 1990s and 2000s as a set of grandparents lived in Princes Risborough (at one point surrounded by railway lines) and my parents lived within commuting distance of Birmingham. My most recent visit, after a gap of around a decade was in 2014 (due to massive signal failure on the line from Paddington) when I was suprised to find a pleasant GWR-esque station (though I didn't realise until researching recently that parts of it are "fake") with lots of Rule 1 potential. It's not too much of a leap of the imagination to envisage excursion trains to/from the Severn Valley Railway ( http://forum.svra.org.uk/viewtopic.php?p=17613 ) and Tyseley is not far down the line in the other direction ( http://www.shakespeareexpress.com/ ). And proving that real life is stranger than Rule 1, I could even have an LNER A4 pulling InterCity-liveried Mk1 coaches

As an additional bonus, the GWR-esqueness means I can pretend it's a much earlier point in time (late 50's/early 60's), especially if I carefully overlook any catenary, and provide services connecting to points southwards. Depending on how ambitious I feel, I might make some bits "modular" so I can swap them out according to what era it is.

Morover the combination of original terminus platforms and the newer through- platforms "fits"   nicely into the space I have available on my putative Eigatani Tetsudo empire, which will be the centre part of the layout here marked as "Eitetsumura" with the BR logo:

Hopefully there'll be a space for a goods siding too. No need for one of them turntably things - the original Moor Street had no space for one, instead providing a traverser (which I won't be recreating) and probably made use of autocoaches/railcars (need to verify). This will by necessity be a representation of Moor Street, not a faithful model of the location, with many compromises such as train length (loco + 3 or 4 coaches is about the max I can fit in). It also probably won't be elevated - the real Moor Street lies on a gradual slope, with the station building at ground level and the Marylebone end on arches, but doesn't feel too much like an elevated station so I can probably get away with that.

Well, that's the plan. Not everyone's cup of tea, but it amuses my tiny, fevered mind. No doubt it will be a while or two before it sees the light of day but will keep me off the streets at night.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2015, 11:50:03 pm by railsquid »
"Eigatani Tetsudo" - Japanese and other trains (planning), featuring:

Offline cornish yorkie

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Re: Birmingham Knotmore Street
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2016, 12:17:23 am »
 :hellosign: Railsquid, love your imagination & thinking. looking forward to developments
regards Derek.

Offline railsquid

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Re: Birmingham Knotmore Street
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2016, 04:35:58 am »
Some background research material:

Not much in either about Moor Street itself, but helpful in filling out the woefully large number of gaps in my knowledge of railway history in the area.
"Eigatani Tetsudo" - Japanese and other trains (planning), featuring:

Offline railsquid

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Re: Birmingham Knotmore Street
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2016, 08:25:58 am »
Some idle research... OK it's Snow Hill, but many of these trains would have passed by Moor Street:

http://youtu.be/-Z8Zp2RFX4U
http://youtu.be/PRY0jC9iSYI

No shortage of interesting, wallet-damaging formations... among others a Class 24 shunting an autocoach, Western pulling a mixed rake of Pullmans and Choc/cream Mk1s... 1960? tube stock (!)
"Eigatani Tetsudo" - Japanese and other trains (planning), featuring:

Offline Malc

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Re: Birmingham Knotmore Street
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2016, 10:32:48 am »
This is an interesting site Moor Street
I'm not sure if life is passing me by, or trying to run me over.

Offline cornish yorkie

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Re: Birmingham Knotmore Street
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2016, 06:32:35 pm »
 :hellosign: that`s my kind of research
regards Derek

Offline johnlambert

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Re: Birmingham Knotmore Street
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2016, 03:29:36 pm »
Another great site for time wasting/research is Warwickshire Railways http://www.warwickshirerailways.com/gwr/moorstreet.htm

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Birmingham Knotmore Street
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2016, 07:37:31 am »
BR Standard Class 5MT 4-6-0 locomotive 73068, newly outshopped in BR Lined Green, is loan to Penmayne depot (BR WR, North Cornwall) from Gloucester Barnwood (85C), initially for the Summer Season, for through special passenger services (with BR WR Chocolate & Cream coaches), including to Birmingham Knotmore Street, via Claverdon.  :claphappy:

Offline Hailstone

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Re: Birmingham Knotmore Street
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2016, 09:40:48 pm »
Some idle research... OK it's Snow Hill, but many of these trains would have passed by Moor Street:

No shortage of interesting, wallet-damaging formations... among others a Class 24 shunting an autocoach, Western pulling a mixed rake of Pullmans and Choc/cream Mk1s... 1960? tube stock (!)

not an Autocoach but a western region inspection saloon

Regards,

Alex

Offline Chris in Prague

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Re: Birmingham Knotmore Street
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2016, 06:27:27 pm »
Many thanks for those videos. An incredible variety of steam and diesel locos. from the late 1950s to early to mid-1960s, I'd guess. I wonder if the BR Type 2 with the Chocolate & Cream Inspection Saloon is an early Class 25 rather than a Class 24 (as they later became)? I would never have guessed that EE Type 4s (Class 40s) visited Birmingham Snow Hill. Apart from preserved Large Prairie 4555 in Great Western liver there appears to be an 0-6-2T with GWR on its side tank, too? A good range of passenge coaches, too. Fascinating.

Offline railsquid

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Re: Birmingham Knotmore Street
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2016, 02:26:16 pm »
Intriguingly recent idle research indicates that at some point during BR blue years (around 1980?), Moor Street was served by class 101 DMUs, as well as (or in place of) the ubiquitous 116/117/118s.

Some evidence:
http://www.philt.org.uk/BR/BR-dmu/i-dLbvGzW
https://www.railscot.co.uk/locationnew.php?loc=Birmingham%20Moor%20Street (centre top photo)
http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/b/birmingham_moor_street/index23.shtml (about 3/4 of the way down, looks like a 101 trailer).

In other news, local historians have determined that the name "Knotmore Street" derives not as commonly thought from the proximity of the one-time headquarters of the Honourable Guild of Knotters and Stringers, an infamous late-Victorian gang of scamsters and other villainous coves, but is in fact named after Sir Thomas Knott de la Moore, a loyal retainer of King Henry VIII more or less up until the time of an unfortunate head detachment incident involving a sharp axe.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2016, 10:27:38 am by railsquid »
"Eigatani Tetsudo" - Japanese and other trains (planning), featuring:

Offline cornish yorkie

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Re: Birmingham Knotmore Street
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2016, 11:22:13 pm »
 :hellosign: All very interesting Railsquid, thanks for sharing
regards Derek.

Offline railsquid

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Re: Birmingham Knotmore Street
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2016, 02:28:48 pm »
A very rough mockup to see what might fit in the space available. The Snow Hill tunnel lines are in the foreground.

knotmore-street-mockup by Rail Squid, on Flickr

Space constraints mean this will never have anything more than vague similarities with the original. I might try and squeeze a small shed and/or Inglenook-ish goods yard in the space behind. A small cityscape will rise at the rear, cunningly hiding the running lines, which will curve around the back in complex ways.
"Eigatani Tetsudo" - Japanese and other trains (planning), featuring:

Offline railsquid

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Re: Birmingham Knotmore Street
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2016, 02:58:03 pm »
Come to think of it, the structure with the columns vaguely representing the station building vaguely resembles the old Curzon Street station building.
"Eigatani Tetsudo" - Japanese and other trains (planning), featuring:

Offline johnlambert

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Re: Birmingham Knotmore Street
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2016, 04:14:37 pm »
I've seen a P4 (4mm) layout of Moor St, which wasn't that big, didn't include the running lines to Snow Hill mind you.  But it does suggest that you should be able to do a reasonable representation of Moor St with passenger facilities and goods handling in a small space in N.

http://www.scalefour.org/shows/S4um2010/moorst.html

One day I'll have a go at doing my own take on Moor St.

 

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