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Where and When? Part Two Monument Lane

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June 2002
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OLD LNWR PHOTOGRAPHS – WHERE AND WHEN? Part 2 MONUMENT LANE

Harry Jack

Another batch of Bleasdale’s mystery prints shows various engines posed in front of a water tank with a large shed behind. This group includes ‘Bloomers Explain 'Bloomer Locomotive Class' TORCH and TRENTHAM, Samsons Explain 'Samson Class 2-4-0 Locomotive Class'ISIS, LOADSTONE and SPHINX, Newtons Explain 'Newton Class 2-4-0 Locomotive Class' MARLBOROUGH and ABERCROMBIE, Crewe Goods Explain 'Crewe 2-4-0 Goods Locomotive Class' No.337 and saddle tank Explain 'Saddle Tank' No.946. For some reason it has been claimed that these pictures were taken at Wolverton, but checking against old plans of this and other possible sheds left the location in no doubt: it could only be Monument Lane. Move to the photographs page

Fortunately, this part of Birmingham was covered by Ordnance pans surveyed in 1886/7 and published in 1889 to the magnificent scale of 1:500 – 7.2in to 100 yards, or about 10½ feet to one mile! From these plans it can be seen that the shed in the photographs was the original building of 1858, parallel with and just south of the main line. This shed held only three roads, although it looks bigger on some photographs because of the wide angle of the camera lens.

 

From details on the plan (plus a little local investigation) other photographs can be recognised as at Monument Lane shed. The 2-4-0 tank 2251 and another Samson, UNICORN, were taken looking south-east from the shed, with the canal retaining wall behind. Two other Samsons, LIVER and SERPENT, were taken at the west end of the shed. recognisable not only by the architectural details but also by the St. Vincent Street skew bridge in the background. If all these Samsons were at their home shed, then 2153–8 were based at Monument Lane in the late 1870s, another example of the block-allocations described by S.S. Scott Explain 'Scott, Samuel Strong (1858—1934)'.

The same skew bridge appears in an old photograph of the St. Helens Railway WHITE RAVEN as rebuilt as a 2-4-0 and renumbered 1818, although in recent prints this background has been painted out. Interesting to see this oddity at Monument Lane; it is included in Bleasdale’s list of c1890 together with another ex-St. Helens engine, the former SEVERN, No.1817 (’Sharp 4-wheeled tender’) which I have never seen. Other prints, three versions of the Bloomer KNOWSLEY and another of the Newton ABERCROMBIE were recognisably at the east end of Monument Lane shed because of the distinctive brewery malt house in the background.

Story continues ...
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