Harborne Railway History
The Harborne Railway Company was formed in 1866 to construct a single line railway, 2 miles and 35 chain in length, to a junction with the London and North Western Railway near Monument Lane. Plans to extend the line to the Halesowen and Bromsgrove Branch Railway at Lapal were opposed. A period of five years was allowed for its construction, but in fact it was not until August 10th 1874 that a passenger service came into being. A goods service started the following October.
Six passenger trains ran in each direction on weekdays, and three on Sundays. However the Sunday service was soon curtailed owing to the objection of Edgbaston residents that it caused the disturbance of their Sabbath.
Harborne Station had a single platform, with sidings and a goods shed. A second platform constructed in 1901 was never used. Until 1942 it had an engine turntable. A footbridge crossed the line and gave pedestrian access into Park Hill Road, the footpath still being in use today but ending in Frensham Way near the site of the old turntable.
The twenty-five minute journey to the main line would have left Harborne over the railway bridge at Park Hill Road, and crossed the Chad Valley on a high embankment, before passing under the Hagley Road, and arriving at the first station. A little more than a mile further would have brought you to Rotton Park Road Station, where a spur was constructed to Mitchell and Butler's Brewery. After another mile there was Icknield Port Road Station, and then the line crossed the Birmingham and Wolverhampton Canal before reaching the junction with the main line, one and a half miles from New Street Station.
Although fondly remembered, the service did not have a reputation for speed, and 'Harborne Express' might have an ironic ring to it! Increased competition from rapidly improving bus services brought about such a decrease in demand that passenger services ended in 1934. A goods service continued until the 1950s.
The last train to run on the line was a special run by the Stephenson Locomotive Society in November 1963, leaving from New Street Station, Birmingham, crowded with 300 railway enthusiasts.
The Stephenson Locomotive Society marked the last Harborne train with a special leaflet detailing the history of train travel through Harborne.
The Don Wright Collection contains the original booklet, together with over 70 photographs, maps and printed material relating to the railway.
The Don Wright Local History Collection
Harborne: Early History
Harborne: 19th Century History
Harborne in World War Two
Harborne High Street Landmarks
Harborne Library: A Brief History
Harborne Local History Group