Level crossing at Hill Farm, Northwood Lane
This level crossing is immediately south of and adjacent to Northwood Halt. It allows access from Northwood Lane to the Hill Farm estate via a private single track road.
Accidents in the BRBritish Rail or British Railways Era
- On 26 August 1947 a car was struck by a northbound goods train resulting in the death of two passengers in the car, a Bromsgrove woman and her four year old daughter. At the inquest the car driver claimed he was not aware that he was crossing a railway line; warning notices in Northwood Lane were proved to have been obscured. Train crews also testified that their visibility of the crossing was very limited due to the bend in the track.
- On 28 August 1964 a car was struck by Large Prairie no 4175 which was running bunker first, returning a train of empty wagons to Alveley Colliery sidings. Two car passengers also lost their lives in this accident. The prominent warning notices installed in Northwood Lane after the first accident had been ignored; a possible factor was that passenger services had ended a year earlier and by that time only one or two freight trains per day were using the line.
Following an inspection in April 1972 in advance of the SVRSevern Valley Railway re-opening this section of the line, Maj. Olver of the Railway Inspectorate recommended that the crossing should be fitted with gates capable of closing across the road and the line as appropriate. The gates and posts from the level crossing near Burlish Halt were retrieved for this purpose, although there is no record that they were ever installed.
From re-opening, a hand signalman was required to be present during operations. To remove the need for this, a successful application was made to the Department of Transport in 1979 for Northwood to be made an 'open' crossing. Equipment for this was duly installed, and the crossing was commissioned on 5th July 1980. The crossing has no gates or barriers, but is protected by flashing lights displayed to road traffic together with an audible warning (the only crossing on the SVRSevern Valley Railway protected in this fashion). The warning lights are operated automatically by track circuits, with treadles as a back up, with a white light displayed to the train to indicate that they are operating correctly. The lights and track circuits work at 24v via a mains supply. In the event of the supply failing, the system automatically switches to battery power and illuminates a warning light in Bewdley North signal box. Modern-style warning boards consisting of a black cross on a white square background are positioned on the approach to the crossing in both directions.
Despite these measures, in November 2000 the crossing was the site of a collision between southbound 8F 48773 and a van. On this occasion prompt action by the engine crew meant the train had almost come to a halt and nobody was injured in the collision. HM Railway Inspectorate found that the crossing equipment was in full working order, and later confirmed that the Railway was not at fault.
The original timber crossing was replaced with a ‘Holfast’ prefabricated crossing in 2004.
The crossing has featured in a number of film and TV productions including:
- A Vauxhall Chevette advertisement (1978?), The Test Drive with a vehicle joining the line at the crossing and driving along the track to Bewdley Tunnel.
- The opening sequence of episode 2 of the short-lived 1982 BBC sit-com L For Lester which can be seen on this YouTube clip. The crossing barriers were specially installed for filming purposes.
- Series 5 episode 6 of the BBC sit-com Sorry!, first screened on 21 June 1986. The episode "It's a Wonderful Life, Basically" paid homage to the James Stewart film, with Timothy Lumsden (Ronnie Corbett) wishing that he had never been born and discovering the consequences. Two scenes were involved, both involving a close encounter with a passing freight train but with very different outcomes. The crossing was again specially fitted with barriers for filming.