Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Birmingham Snow Hill station
Birmingham Snow Hill station is a railway station located in the centre of Birmingham, England. Though only a shadow of its former self, it is still the second most important railway station in Birmingham after New Street station. It is also the Birmingham terminus of the West Midlands light rail system, the Midland Metro.
The original station was opened in 1852 on the Great Western Railway (GWR) line from London (Paddington) to Wolverhampton Low Level Station. Snow Hill was re-built in 1871 to accommodate longer trains.
Trains arriving from the south first pass through Snow Hill Tunnel, built by the cut-and-cover method, with Great Western (shopping) Arcade running above the northern end.
The station had an uneventful existence for many years until the 1960s. Then, as part of the Beeching axe closure programme, it was decided that Snow Hill station was an unnecessary duplication, and that Birmingham only needed one major station. Snow Hill was recommended for closure, and all services were switched to the former LMS New Street Station. Local services, north from Snow Hill, were the last to run.
The station was gradually run down, until it was closed completely, and largely demolished in 1974. The line to Wolverhampton was also closed. The station site was for many years used as a car park.
In 1987 the newly rebuilt Snow Hill station opened for services to the south only, with some of the remaining parts of the original station lost (e.g. the old parcels office) and others incorporated (notably the now-sealed entrance, with GWR crest, in Livery Street). Services to London Marylebone were soon restarted, along with many local services. A new station, Moor Street, was built at the southern end of Snow Hill tunnel to replace the terminus adjacent to the tunnel mouth, which then closed.
The new Snow Hill station, with a multistorey car park above, has been widely criticised as draughty, unwelcoming and architecturally unimaginative.
In 2003, the original gates and booking hall sign from Snow Hill were incorporated into the old Moor Street station, and its ticket office brought back into use for trains using the 1987 platforms, but the old platforms remained mothballed, awaiting reopening (scheduled for 2009). Watering facilites for the regular Sunday steam services to Stratford-upon-Avon and new retail units, both in GWR architectural style, were also included, in conjunction with the development of the adjacent Birmingham Bull Ring.
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