7mm Birmingham Moor Street

Discussion in 'Layout Progress' started by Focalplane, 9 April 2019.

  1. Focalplane

    Focalplane Western Thunderer

    I am currently posting to page 23 and looking back on this first entry it is clear that there have been many dead ends explored along this journey. Moor Street has become a major project which aims to capture the essence of the place such that viewers would recognize it for what it is, yet it is not the whole nine yards - an appropriate simile - due to lack of space.

    One aspect that has changed is the provision of more of the Goods Station. Note that Moor Street was not a "yard" but rather a place for receiving deliveries to the "city of a thousand trades" in the form of food, raw materials and so on and to some extent a point for export of goods made.

    Operations have been made more interesting, only limited by the amount of off scene storage. Day time operations were totally different from night time operations, the former passenger working, the latter goods workings. In addition there were summer specials. So the season will be summer with fruit arriving from the Vale of Evesham, bananas from afar and fish from the North Sea. This scenario allows for a wide range of locomotives to be built once the layout is up and running!

    Yes, Penmaenpool started to be taken down today after a prolonged realization that it wasn't going to satisfy as an operating layout. Fortunately only a few scenic additions had been made and I have already proved with one major makeover that the L Girder System allows this sort of thing quite painlessly. Half the layout was dissembled this afternoon and new plywood is going up.

    Anyway, what about Moor Street? Some history.

    A late arrival on the Birmingham railway scene, Moor Street started to serve Warwickshire's growing suburban needs in 1908 with the opening of the North Warwickshire Line from Tyseley to Bearley Junction. Already suburban services down to Leamington Spa were saturating the main line, but the North Warwickshire Line to Stratford and Cheltenham was also seen as a competitor to the Midland line from Birmingham to Bristol via Lickey.

    My personal involvement with Moor Street began when I was born for we lived in Earlswood, the high point on the line served by Earlswood Lakes and the Lakes Halt. The lakes refer to the reservoirs for the Stratford upon Avon Canal. The River Blythe (really a trickle) was one of many streams that drained the Birmingham Plateau though it wasn't really involved in the Industrial Revolution, being too far south, but it did keep the canal full of water.

    But back to Moor Street. Snow Hill was the GWR's premier Northern Division station, basically a four track plus two goods lines through station with terminal bays facing north. The geography of the city was such that no bays could be constructed facing south and the cut and cover Snow Hill Tunnel was also on a steep southerly incline with commercial development overhead. It could not be widened to four tracks.

    Moor Street was developed alongside the main line with an original single track access and only two platforms. This was later doubled and today there are five platforms since platforms were provided on the through lines after Snow Hill was closed. In fact, they were the only platforms until Chiltern Railways responded to an initiative to restore Moor Street along with the new Bullring development. The modern retro station is a marvel, particularly as it has a really good coffee/tea room in the old concourse.

    One other aspect of Moor Street that I remember from numerous visits from home was the presence of the two traversers. These allowed arriving tank engines to move across and back down a release line to back up to the rear of their train and depart. Many was the time I watched this process. The space under the platforms for the traverser is still there today. Large Prairies were the tank engines on most commuter services, ideally suited to the inclines and the need to accelerate from numerous stops on both the main line to Leamington Spa and the North Warwickshire Line. The service was so good my father never learned to drive a car! We occasionally took a train from Snow Hill, usually a semi-fast that stopped at Earlswood on its way to Cheltenham but that meant a longer walk home.

    So Moor Street it is, but a few Rule 1 differences will exist from reality due to space restrictions.

    Rule 1 (a) - the track plan is simpler than the maximum for the usual space reasons. Fortunately there is a track plan of the half completed station in 1914 and this will be the basis of the layout, even though the time period will be BR late 1950s.

    Rule 1 (b) - Although a Western Region station, London Midland trains were often seen on the main line south from Snow Hill. Many goods trains, both long distance and local transfer, were hauled by both Western and London Midland locos. In addition, electrification programs on the WCML and at New Street meant that all sorts of trains might be seen, either at Moor Street or on the main line. Several trains from the south terminating in Birmingham used Moor Street, two I know of originated from Portsmouth and Kingswear. Add in Football specials (St. Andrews is in walking distance) and weekend services could be varied. Moor Street was served by Tyseley shed, 84E, a major shed then as it is today. Moor Street also had a two story goods shed though there is no room to model this. All goods trains will be seen on the main line, hauled by anything from a pannier to a 9F.

    Rule 1 (c) - The only buildings I have at Penmaenpool include the engine shed, mess hut and coal stage. These will be used as a staging area for tank engines beyond the station throat. My 60ft turntable will also be incorporated in the layout, representing one of Tyseley's two turntables for visiting tender engines. Moor Street will mostly use ready to plonk buildings and laser kits.

    Moor Street since is restoration:


    Last edited: 29 January 2020
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  2. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    Except today the awning has been cut back on platform 3. A quick snap as I was about to leap on the train on the right which was ready to depart for Marylebone.

    Moor St 2 WT.jpg
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  3. Compton castle

    Compton castle Western Thunderer

    Looking forward to seeing your progress
  4. Focalplane

    Focalplane Western Thunderer

    Thank you, Steve. The addition of a servicing area at the station was prompted by your excellent work on Smoke, Ash and Steam.

    Compton castle likes this.
  5. Focalplane

    Focalplane Western Thunderer

    Over the years I have taken very few photos of Moor Street. Back in 2007 I did celebrate the re-opening of the original station with a few and I also went on a photo walk around Digbeth, organized by my son (he continues to do these on a regular basis). Digbeth photographs give a flavour to the area along the Rea Valley dominated by railways and canals. Previous generations of Ashtons lived in Bordesley which was then not a healthy place. Small Heath is not far away with the BSA Factory and Singer Cars, not to mention Peaky Blinders!

    So here are a few to give some atmosphere to the new project:

    The new concourse. Platform numbers are different now, 3 was 1, 4 was 2 and 5 was 3. 1 and 2 did not exist, being on the main line.


    The entrance to the station. This was somewhat different back in the 1950s. I probably won't be able to model it anyway.


    The location of the traversers is still there! The original tracks were not connected to the system in 2007, hence the look of decay down on the tracks. It was to take several years. The plinthed loco (class 28XX freight engine) was there to celebrate the restoration.


    A view from the far end of Platform 3, showing the Rotunda and Selfridges "Blob". The water tank was not there in the 1950s, though there was a tank at the station with water cranes at the platform ends.


    The goods shed was between the station and Selfridges and is now a Bullring car park. The tracks were at station level, the sheds were underneath, a great use of the limited space.

    Now, Digbeth ,which will form part of the scenery:

    This is Bordesley Street which was once the main road to London! In searching for my great grandfather's residence these were the only houses left after the Blitz and subsequent reconstruction.


    The GWR built a long viaduct south of Moor Street, made of Staffordshire Blues. This sign must be 70 years old. It reminds us that at one time the nearby Smithfield was supplied by train.


    The River Rea! If these stream had been more powerful the need for steam power would not have originated when it did and James Watt wouldn't be so famous today. "Rea" is pronounced "ray", by the way.


    Digbeth Arm of the Grand Union Canal. At one time much of the industry was served by canals, including the BSA. In this respect the Peaky Blinders TV series is a remarkably good historical resource, though before my time.


    So, just a few for now. I have discovered an out print book on Moor Street Station, published after the restoration but with a history of its construction and operation. That will be a must buy but not at £44 for a paperback! Meantime, warwickshirerailways.com has some very useful photos and descriptions.
  6. oldravendale

    oldravendale Western Thunderer

    Agreed, "Peaky Binders" is a good period piece, as well researched as the best. However, little if any is actually shot in Birmingham. Most of the exterior shots are at Chatham Historic Dockyard. (As are the exteriors on "Call the Midwife"). Some use is also made of the interiors at the same location.

  7. Focalplane

    Focalplane Western Thunderer

    Brian, according to Midland sources, most of the canal scenes were shot at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley. We were there this time last year with grandson and they were preparing to shoot the following week. The three "back to backs" streets near the site of the BSA factory are accurately portrayed though the CGI of the BSA itself does not resemble what I remember at all! The atmosphere of the scenes is excellent, wherever they were filmed, as you say.

    Thanks, Paul
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  8. GrahameH

    GrahameH Western Thunderer

    A very interesting preamble and introduction to the new proposed layout Paul.

    You've certainly chosen an interesting station to model, but if you have a good knowledge of the area its a bonus and hopefully an incentive to make this " the one" for you.

    I will certainly enjoy watching the work progress.

    ( Who'd have thought it.... Moor Street in France ! )

  9. Focalplane

    Focalplane Western Thunderer

    Thanks, Grahame. The origin of Moor Street, I wonder, as I look up the French for it. Moor as in open land, in which case Rue de Lande or Rue de Tourbeux, or Moor as in North Africans, in which case possibly Rue des Maures.

    I rather favour the former origin as it is located in the oldest part of the town and the manor house of the de Birminghams was roughly located on the site back in the 11th Century.

    I should explain that the "railway room" is located in southern France!

    Back to the trains! Paul
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  10. Pencarrow

    Pencarrow Western Thunderer

    Good stuff Paul. I'm in Birmingham most days, if you need any photos then let me know.
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  11. Focalplane

    Focalplane Western Thunderer

    Thank you for the offer, Chris, I may well take you up on it, though a lot of the restoration has changed the station that existed in the late 1950s. I am not sure if the buildings along what is now Platform 3 (see photo by Yorkshire Dave above) were even there in 1960! They look older but the older photos I have found suggest they might not have been there when the main line to Snow Hill had no platforms at Moor Street (i.e. today's Platforms 1 and 2).

    Back to the traversers. I think a lot when woodworking. The original three platforms supported four tracks with the two traversers either side of the island platform. In today's nomenclature, Platforms 4 and 5 are either side of the island platform. So, looking away from the concourse the layout was, from left to right:

    Fence between Moor Street Station and the Main Lines
    Platform 3 (?no buildings, though something may have been there, the old photos are not clear enough)
    Platform 3 track, also the release road from Platform 4 at the first traverser
    Platform 4 track, also the release road from Platform 3.
    Island Platform with Platforms 4 and 5.
    Platform 5 track leading to the second traverser
    Release road from Platform 5 at the second traverser.

    One traverser had three tracks, the centre track being the one locomotives would actually "ride" on. This was the traverser now between Platforms 3 and 4. The other traverser, serving Platform 5 also had three tracks as seen in this photo with a space off to the side. (in the photo, reference to Platform 3 equates to Platform 5 today!)

    So, two identical traversers will need to be constructed and the island platform will have to be wide enough to hold two traverser tracks if they are to be used at the same time.
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  12. Jim smith-wright

    Jim smith-wright Western Thunderer

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  13. oldravendale

    oldravendale Western Thunderer

    Quite correct! The scenes of the forge, for example, are certainly at the Black Country Museum. However, the domestic and exterior scenes are at Chatham, principally alongside the Ropery. It all just serves to confirm our agreement that some considerable care has been taken to create the atmosphere.

  14. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    Just been doing some reading and it appears the only original remains of Moor St are the station building and what are today's platforms 3, 4 and 5 (originally platforms 1, 2 and 3).

    New platforms 1 and 2 were built on the main line as part of the Snow Hill re-opening and the building in my photograph was built as part of the later redevelopment to integrate Moor St with the Snow Hill line platforms possibly at which time the Moor St platforms were renumbered to 3, 4 and 5.

    There are some good photos on the Disused Stations website and a nice 1930's aerial photo Disused Stations: Birmingham Moor Street Station.

    This 1922 GW signalling diagram is also from t'interweb.

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  15. Focalplane

    Focalplane Western Thunderer

    I am sorry, Jim, I live in southern France! Do you have anything on line I can vie? And what scale, preiod, etc.?

    And, yes, the book is on my Amazon wish list but not a t£44! I am relying on warwickshirerailways.com for the time being.

    Thanks, Paul
  16. Focalplane

    Focalplane Western Thunderer

    Thanks, Dave. Great minds think alike, I looked at "disused stations" this afternoon while on a tea break from the railway room. The signal diagram will be useful even though my track plan will have to be slimmed down and some Rule 1 privileges applied.

    The buildings you photographed yesterday are recent but were added in the "1930's style" . Roughly in their place there was a hoist down to the lower goods shed (see "Hoist Roads" on the signal diagram. It looks like an early LMS ash plant only smarter! There were three of them, two to the south, one between the main line and the station.

    This is early days on the research, helped by my own memories. I need to work out what was actually there in my time period - late 1950s, pre-DMU.

    Incidentally, Warwickshire Railways has a photo of the Caledonian Single and the back end of City of Truro on display at Moor street in 1960. I saw both locos and clambered over City of Truro (with permission) while on my way back to Earlswood from a day at Tamworth watching LM(R) trains at high speed.

  17. Jim smith-wright

    Jim smith-wright Western Thunderer

  18. Focalplane

    Focalplane Western Thunderer

  19. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    It would appear that anywhere with preserved Victorian architecture has been exploited for the setting of this programme, gentlemen:

    Where is Peaky Blinders filmed? The Liverpool landmarks you might recognise

    I recall that not so long ago, they were also shooting down on Bidston docks on Wirral, and before that not far from me on the beach at Formby (Tom Hardy even brought his dog along with him for the day and ended up chatting with other dog walkers in between filming).

  20. oldravendale

    oldravendale Western Thunderer

    You are right about that, Jonte. The location manager has done an amazing job in finding "right" locations, and doesn't it show! Having watched every series I don't remember any of those wince inducing moments when a Routemaster suddenly appears in the scene - I exaggerate, but you know what I mean. In fact "Call the Midwife" which 'er indoors likes to see has similar attention to detail as far as I remember.

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