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Great Western Railway and Snow Hill Station


This mural is in the middle of St Chad's Circus. It tells the story of the Great Western Railway and Snow Hill Station. Each section of the mosaic mural incorporates the story.
mural1p.jpg (49260 bytes) Construction of the Great Western Railway line to Snow Hill began in 1847. Isambard Kingdom Brunel was engineer in charge and the contractors were Peto and Betts. By 1852 the 129 mile track from Paddington via Oxford was complete 7'0" Broad Gauge to Oxford 4'81/2" Narrow Gauge from there to Birmingham with a third rail provided for the 7'0" track. Narrow gauge became standard for the whole country in 1892 signals were hand operated by railway police.
The first Snow Hill station was opened on 1st October 1852. A special eve of opening train left Paddington pulled by Daniel Gooches 'Lord of the Isles' which had been on show at the great exhibition. This was derailed at Aynho but successfully completed the journey the following day after a change of engine. Nine years later narrow gauge track was extended to Paddington providing a 3 hour 20 minute express service. Unheated carriages were lit by oil pot lamps and bar and disc signals were operated from trackside capstans.

Lord of the Isles

162 Cobham

In 1871 a new station was built to accommodate the great increase in traffic. Expresses like No 162 'Cobham' designed by William Dean and driven by driver Hughes

Between 1890 -1914 the 'old' station was replaced by Snow Hill in its final form without interruption to regular services. G.J.Churchward succeeded William Dean as chief engineer and by 1912 his locomotives like No 2906 'Lady of Lynn' and the 'Saint' and 'Star' classes were providing a regular 2 hour express service from Paddington. Carriages were painted maroon but later reverted to familiar G.W.R. chocolate and cream livery.

Lady of Llynn

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Larger and more powerful 'Castle' and 'King' class locomotives were introduced by Charles B. Collett during the nineteen twenties and thirties. When war came in 1939 Great Western's familiar livery was replaced by austerity grey and in 1948 the G.W.R. merged its identity into British Railways. Snow Hill continued as part of Western region until 1967 when by order of Parliament it ceased operation as a main line station

This mural was unveiled by the Deputy Mayor of Birmingham Alderman C.V.G. Simpson, J.P. on the 14th July, 1969

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