Birmingham Snow Hill station

Birmingham Snow Hill station

Infobox UK station
name = Birmingham Snow Hill

manager = London Midland
zone = 1
code = BSW
locale = Colmore Row, Birmingham
borough = City of Birmingham
years = 1852
years2 = 1972
years3 = 1987
years4 = 1999
events = Opened
events2 = Closed
events3 = Reopened
events4 = Midland Metro opened
platforms = 3 National Rail 2 Midland Metro
latitude = 52.483
longitude = -1.899
usage0607 = 1.939

Birmingham Snow Hill is a railway station and tram stop in the centre of Birmingham, England on the site of a much larger station which was built by the former Great Western Railway (GWR). It is the second most important railway station in the city, after the former LMS Birmingham New Street station. It is also the terminus of the Midland Metro light rail line from Wolverhampton (via Wednesbury and West Bromwich), pending the line's extension.

The present Snow Hill station has three platforms for National Rail trains. When it was originally reopened in 1987 it had four, but one was later converted for use by Midland Metro trams. The planned extension of the Midland Metro through Birmingham city centre includes a dedicated embankment for trams alongside the station, and this will allow the fourth platform to be returned to main-line use.


Snow Hill is the principal destination of the Chiltern Main Line, which links Birmingham with London Marylebone, operated by Chiltern Railways, with some Chiltern services continuing to Kidderminster.

Typical off-peak weekday service is as follows, in trains per hour (tph): [cite web|title=London Midland - Timetables|url=]

Intercity Services

* 2tph to London Marylebone, operated by Chiltern Railways

Local Services towards Dorridge/Shirley

* 2 to Shirley, operated by London Midland
* 1 to Stratford-upon-Avon, operated by London Midland
* 3 to Dorridge, operated by London Midland (some peak services extended to Warwick and Leamington Spa)

Local Services towards Stourbridge

* 2 to Kidderminster, operated by London Midland
* 2 to Worcester Shrub Hill or Foregate Street, operated by London Midland
* 2 to Stourbridge Junction, operated by London Midland

Most of these services operate as through services, such as from Stratford-upon-Avon to Stourbridge Junction.


The site of the station was originally occupied by Oppenheims Glassworks. This was demolished, but many parts of the building and machinery are believed to be buried underneath the station and car park, and during recent development work alongside the station the area was designated as a site of archaeological importance by Birmingham City Council. The station was opened in 1852 on the Great Western Railway (GWR) line from London (Paddington) to Wolverhampton Low Level. It was originally called Livery Street Station and was a simple large wooden shed. It was renamed Snow Hill in 1858, and the Great Western Hotel was added in 1863. By 1859 it was possible to travel from Snow Hill to London in just under three hours.

Snow Hill station was rebuilt in 1871 to accommodate longer trains. The new station had a huge arched roof of iron and glass, with a simple wooden overhead bridge linking the two platforms. It was never intended to be the main station but political gaming between the railway companies prevented the railway reaching its original intended end at Birmingham Curzon Street.

Trains from the south arrived through Snow Hill Tunnel, built by the cut-and-cover method, and in a cutting from Temple Row to Snow Hill. The cutting was roofed over in 1872 and the Great Western Arcade built on top.

In 1906 reconstruction of Snow Hill commenced, completed in 1912. The new station building was intended to compete with New Street, which at the time was a much grander building than it is today. The rebuilt station had a large booking hall with an arched glass roof. It contained lavish waiting rooms with oak bars. The bottom end of the station had fish platforms (Birmingham was and still is a major participant in the seafood industry) and goods storage. The station was twice as long as the current one.


As part of the Beeching axe closure programme in the 1960s, it was decided that Snow Hill station was unnecessary. All services were switched to Birmingham New Street and Moor Street. units nicknamed "bubble cars" were the last to run and ended in March 1972.

Despite a huge public outcry the building was not preserved. The Great Western Hotel was demolished in 1969 and the station was largely demolished in 1977, when the dangerous state of the building was revealed. However, it did enjoy a brief moment of fame when it was the setting for a fight scene in the locally-set (and "Play for Today"-based) BBC TV drama series "Gangsters".The ironwork of the station roof was badly corroded in several places, and the unstable ground and foundations on which the station had been built were causing it to slide downhill.

A few items including the original gates and booking hall sign were saved and later used in the Birmingham Moor Street railway station restoration. The site was for many years used as a car park.


In the mid 1980s British Rail decided to re-open Snow Hill station as part of the cross-city transport plan for Birmingham.

In 1987 the newly rebuilt station opened for services to the south, with some of the remaining parts of the original station lost (e.g. the old parcels office, some platforms and the mosaic floor from former waiting rooms) and others incorporated (notably the now-sealed entrance, with GWR crest, in Livery Street). Services to London Marylebone were restarted, along with many local services. Services at Moor Street, at the southern end of Snow Hill tunnel, were switched from the former terminal platforms, which then closed, onto the two through platforms to become a through station adjacent to the tunnel mouth.

The new Snow Hill station, with a multi-storey car park above, has been widely criticised as draughty, unwelcoming and architecturally unimaginative. The car park was designed by Seymour Harris Partnership.

On 24 September 1995, services north to Smethwick and onwards to Worcester resumed. The first day saw steam-hauled special trains to Stourbridge Junction.

In 1999, the line to Wolverhampton was re-opened as a light-rail (tram) line, the Midland Metro.

A new entrance on Livery Street was due to open in January 2007 in order to give commuters access to the lower Snow Hill part of the City Centre. The work had a projected cost of £9.94 million, but due to Central Trains' failing to apply for planning permission, the cost has risen to £12.8 million and the entrance is now expected to open in early 2008.fact|date=November 2007

By 2012, the station will cease to be a terminus for the Midland Metro. It will continue through the streets to Hagley Road, Edgbaston. There will be stops at St Chads and Bull Street. A new viaduct is being constructed alongside the station as part of the Snowhill development, which aims to regenerate an area of land which has been used as a surface car park since 1977 when the previous station was demolished.

ee also

*Transport in Birmingham
*Birmingham New Street station
*Birmingham International railway station
*Birmingham Moor Street railway station


* Boynton, John (2001). "Main Line to Metro: Train and Tram on the Great Western Route: Birmingham Snow Hill - Wolverhampton". Kidderminster: Mid England Books.
* Harrison, Derek (1978). "Salute to Snow Hill: The Rise and Fall of Birmingham's Snow Hill Railway Station 1852 - 1977". Birmingham: Barbryn Press.


External links

* [ of old station]
* [ 1890 Ordnance Survey map of the station]
* [ Article on this station from Rail Around Birmingham & the West Midlands]
* [ Article on the Metro station from Rail Around Birmingham & the West Midlands]


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