Birmingham and Shrewsbury Railway. — viaduct across the River Severn at Shrewsbury. Source: Illustrated London News 1849. [Click on the image to produce a larger picture.]
Article beneath the engraving and on the following page
On Monday last, this new line Of railway was opened with a train of upwards of fifty carriages, accompanied by a fine band of music, and decorated with a profusion of flags and banners.
The train left Shrewsbury at about half-past eight o'clock. It was Joined by a considerable number of passengers both at Upton Magna and Walcot, and a large posse of Welltngtonians fell in at that populous town, where the train was received with a volley of cheers, the station and public buildings streaming with flags. Accumulated hundreds Joined the train at Oakengates, where a considerable stoppage was required; after which the long body of carriages entered the tunnel at a slow rate, and was about five minutes in its transitory eclipse. The excavations on both sides of the tunnel, through rock and shale, show the immensity of labour in this part of the line, independent of the construction of the tunnel itself. The rate of the train, from its great weight and length, where there was a slight ascent in the incline, was necessarily slow — with the two powerful and splendid engines, Salopian and Wrekin (and another, we believe, added a portion of the way); but we approached Shiffnal at a better rate; and here, as we advanced, the view of the town on the flanks of the elevated archway, with the flower-gardens of the bouses coming up to and abutting on the masonry of the viaduct, presented a singularly beautiful and pleasant scene of active life, excited by the novelty of the occasion. The Shiffnal Station is an extremely neat and tasteful edifice, light and commodious, and was resplendent with flags; and from this town was derived another considerable addition to the passenger-train, in a number of gentlemen and ladies, as well as other hnmbler and well-dressed classes. The sub-stations of Albrighton and Codsall are pretty edifices; the former being the centre of several other villages, and a considerable population.
At Wolverhampton the crowds of people to receive the train were immense; and it had to thread its way up to the temporary platform amid the cheers of the people, the pealing bells, and rolling drums, Stcof the band—a iuo»t glorious and animated scene. It is the first instance of a railway coming up into the large, flourishing, and populous town of Wolverhampton — the rising Birmingham of Staffordshire, and was an object of interest and éclat in proportion.
The train having poured out its living load, the engines “Salopian” and “Wrekin” were sent to take in water for the return steam, and then speed off with a similar load of the inhabitants of Wolverhampton, including several of the chief corporators of that town, to Shrewsbury, and bring the same back again before tbe Salopians returned.
Meanwhile, the Shrewsbury corporation proceeded, as they best could, to Birmingham, where Prince Albert had arrived: the spirit of the town was of course astir; but the Exhibition of Arts had been closed for the day. It being made known, however, that the Mayor and Corporation of Shrewsoury had come to Birmingham by the new line, the Exhibition was politely re-opened for their especial convenience. After viewing the display of arts, the Mayor and his associates returned to Wolverhampton, where refreshments had been provided for them at the Swan Inn.
The station-house of the Shrewsbury and Birmingham line, at Wolverhampton, is an elegant structure, from what may be seen of it in its present unfinished state, and occupies one of the most prominent situations of the town, being an opposite corner at the bottom of Queen-street and the streets leading to Walsall. The Assembly Room, Public News Room, and Town Library occupy the centre of one side of the street, with the Mechanics’ Institute and handsome fronted dwelling-houses on the right, with one of the Dissenting chapels, and similar commodious houses, on its left. This railway, with a branch line to the N«»rth-Western, thus connecting the main line to Birmingham, and the opposite lints on the west and north-west, will give Wolverhampton its proper status in the intercourse of public business aud extensive national communication
The return train from Shrewsbury, with the Wolverhampton excursionists, did not arrive till nine o’clock in the evening, instead of being able to take up its former occupants at six, for »heir return home. Owing to some delay, the train did not start on its return till nearly ten o'clock: it reached the Shrewsbury Sration about half-past eleven o’clock, and was received with cheers at that late hour by a considerable company on the platform.
Mr. Stephenson has inspected the tunml at Oakengates, respecting the security of which some doubts were entertained, and reports that it is perfectly safe.
We have court used these details from the Shrewsbury Journal report of the day’s proceedings.
The town of Shrewsbury, as it is entered on the Shrewsbury and Birmingham Railway, pre s a picturesque and imposing appearance; two of its venerable ecclesiastical structures, as well as several other of the public buildings, are conspicuously seen. The Infirmary also occupies elevated position.
Immediately on passing over the viaduct (of which we have given an Illustration from a sketch by Mr. J. Sayer) the station is entered: it is a spacious erection, 410 feet in length, and 70 in span, the height being in proportion to the width. Looking down upon the station, westward of the mount, stands the Castle.
“Birmingham and Shrewsbury Railway.” Illustrated London News. 15 (17 November 1849): 333-34. Hathi Trust Digital Library version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 24 December 2015.
Last modified 24 December 2015