Issue 308
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As you may just have heard, Brum's fourth major train station will soon be under construction. Which, given that there's no more than half a mile between any of the quad of sites, maybe seems a tad excessive. How in the steam-powered bejesus did we get here? Answers...
Curzon Street station opened in 1838 but the Grade-II listed site had already closed to passengers by 1893.
Perhaps it was something to do with the speed limit — the earliest trains to London were not allowed to exceed 22.5 mph. That's less than a fifth of the current max speed.
Curzon Street's location, on the edge of the city, probably didn't help either and led to the construction of a station you might just have heard of: New Street.
Most passenger services were diverted to the new station in 1854, the year it was given an official opening.
Designed by the same guy as the Crystal Palace, New Street had the largest single-span glass and iron train shed roof in the world, with a width of 64 metres, and length of 256 metres — so 2.5 football pitch sort of territory. 
New Street was effectively two stations on one site, shared between two competing companies but separated by Queens Drive down the middle – an actual working road (pictured, above).
Wanting a piece of the ever-increasing passenger numbers, a third company, Great Western Railway, opened Snow Hill in 1852.
Twenty years later, the cutting from Temple Row to Snow Hill required to house the station was roofed over and the Great Western Arcade — whose title has nothing to do with geography and everything to do with the train company that built it — was created.
As well as both dealing in services going to The London, New Street and Snow Hill became bases for local train companies and routes. Commuting to work was a thing from 1900 onwards, connecting stations like Moseley (pictured, 1908) to town. 
In fact, train traffic got so busy that Snow Hill tunnel became a bottleneck. It was considered too expensive to dig up the site and widen it again, which led to the city's fourth station being built in just over half a decade.
Introducing Moor Street Station, born, 1909.
And, nerd alert: because the station was built on such a confined site (are you noticing a theme?), it was equipped with two electrically operated traversers as a space-saving measure. This allowed locomotives to move sideways between tracks, instead of having to reverse through crossovers.
The traversers stopped being used in 1967, when all services to the station switched to diesel trains. And you can keep that one in your pub-quiz reserves. 
The nationalisation of Britain's railways in 1948 brought Brum's three competing carriers together and under government control. 
Cuts followed. Having worked out that the least profitable 50% of stations were earning only 2% of national rail revenue, more than half of Britain's stations were closed, including Hockley, Soho and Winson Green.
The duplication of routes was seen as another inefficient no-no and the New Street to Euston route was picked out for electrification. New Street became Brum's London hub and Snow Hill lost most of its intercity routes.
Having suffered bomb damage in WWII that hadn't been fully repaired, New Street was re-built in 1967 and the butt of, well, most jokes, until its galactic makeover, completed in 2015.
Despite its lack of popularity — New Street had the joint lowest customer satisfaction rate of any major Network Rail station — by 2007, the concrete construct had more than double the passenger numbers it had been designed for.
And British Rail had sold the light-vacuum's air rights — literally the air above the station — which explains the e'er so attractive Pallasades shopping centre.
As for Snow Hill, that bottleneck of a tunnel was shut in 1968 and local services coming from the south terminated at Moor Street.
Snow Hill survived four more years, servicing local traffic from Stourbridge-way, but closed in 1972 and was demolished, making Moor Street the final station on the line.
Less than twenty years later (in 1987), Snow Hill's tunnel was reopened as was the station, albeit in rather less attractive form.
The Stratford to Worcester line was re-launched, and, in 1996, regular services to London reintroduced.
Moor Street was also given a zhuzh, allowing it to handle the Camp Hill line back down to (crosses everything) Moseley and Kings Heath. The last time passengers used the stations was in WW2.
Moor Street and Snow Hill now handle around 12 million passengers annually.
New Street is the busiest station outside London, with more than 40 million passengers using the station each year.
And finally, 133 years after it closed, Curzon Street station is due to open to give a project more controversial than your weird uncle a home. Bets on HS2 making an appearance in 2026? We're offering odds of 3/1.


If, all the Gods forbid, we couldn't live in Birmingham, Brighton would just win-out over Bristol. Fortunately for us and for you, Brum is going nowhere. But a rather exceptional bit of the sea-side-city is coming our way. Dead Wax Social is a vinyl, beer and pizza place with Brighton Laine Pub Co on the brains and, deliciously, on the pumps. It's opening up its second record-obsessed spot in Digbeth today. And to get you through their Adderley Street doors immediately, Dead Wax Digbeth is hosting four days of free musical happenings, including day-time tuneage, late-night DJs and acoustic sets across their three spaces. And if you can't make it down this weekend, a collection of 4,000 records will be waiting for you to choose from and play on vinyl in the main bar when you do. You'll also find a pizza menu and local beers from spots like Dig Brew Co as well as the ever so quaffable in-house southern imports.


Director Rian Johnson’s treat for making The Last Jedi is, of all things, a big-budget version of Miss Marple with the dark comedy cranked up and James Bond in place of the spinster sleuth. Daniel Craig heads up an all-star cast (listing them would take up our whole word count) as a drawling detective who’s confined a wealthy family to their rickety old home as he tries to work out who bumped off their patriarch. Everybody gets their moment – Chris Evans, in particular, sparkles as a ne’er-do-well who seems to have wandered in from Succession — and as the twists and bodies pile up, you’re left with a deviously enjoyable Swiss watch of a movie. An absolute riot. At Cineworld at Resorts World. Tickets


Things we’re likely to get before a white Christmas: Brexit done, a balti emoji, the Floozie fixed. Failing all that, the folks at Flatpack have got Chrimbers covered with a super special screening of the musical, comedy and generally feel-good classic, White Christmas, starring granny’s former crush, big Bing Crosby. European solstice Folk songs come courtesy of a live choir who will be filling Birmingham Cathedral before the feature, just to make sure you’re fully embracing the festive spirit. Throw in mince pies and mulled wine and if we can get up to anything more wholesome this Christmas, we don’t want to know about it. On December 12, tickets are £12. Arrivals from 7.30pm to hear the fa-la-la-ing.
Venue: Couch, 1466 Pershore Road, Stirchley, B30 2NT; website  
Choice: The Gambler (£9.50) Chooser: Jacob Clarke, co-owner

You'll witness a drink take the hallowed "You Choose" slot about as often as you'll witness us politely decline a negroni. So it's stand up and take note time when it comes to The Gambler, one of 15 creations on the
opening menu at Couch. If you've somehow missed the brief, every drink on the list at the month-old Stirchleyite is named after a song that makes the team freaky deeky down deepy. And this one — a Rye and Scotch based bit of liquid gold — comes from Kenny Roger's 1979 tale of a drifter, trading life advice for whisky and smokes. Already generally convinced by peaty whisky combos, we were bound to quite like this one for its inclusion of Talisker but it was the effortless smoothness and subtle sweetness that has us entirely obsessed. On top of the Lot 40 Rye and Talisker 10yo The Gambler includes a caramelised sherry cordial created by the team which seems to balance out the creation in a way that makes non-whisky drinkers like it every bit as much as we do. Served with a walnut, there's the fairly obvious addition of nuttiness which adds depth to the drink but it's actually the inclusion of acorn bitters (also made in-house) that's bringing the flavour to every little sip. Though there are lots of reasons to land a spot at Couch — and the team'll totally make you drinks that aren't even on the menu — The Gambler is the best drink in the city right now, so probably try it.
Emma of El Borracho (*wipes tear*) fame is doling out tapas and sangria at Little Blackwood for two nights only. Book in for Dec 17 or 18 to get your fix. The deets

This Sunday, Sarehole Mill's on both crafting and fairing. Join 'em from 11am 'til 4pm, for the fair, which is free to attend, while the Mill is doing half price admission.
Our little sister title has teamed up with new studio, Yoga Borne, to offer £5 off a class as a welcome. Just enter "LBX" in the discount code box before you check out. Book
Hyde Park Brass band are doing their big band thing in the (heated) garden at the Prince of Wales on Dec 12, which is legit close enough to Christmas to have a proper Prince sort of night. Tickets are £6
The final release of tickets for the first two days of England's Test Match against the West Indies go on sale today at 10am right here.

Eat cheese and drink whisky, then repeat. Birmingham Whisky Club's Christmas Cheese Board is on Dec 18 and it's £20 for a spot. 
To market, to market to buy some hot sauce, isn't how the rhyme goes at all but you really will find Pip and her small-batch gear as well as jewellery-makers, doughnut-makers and even massage makers. Stirchley Baths from 4pm on Tuesday. More

"So, if you don’t mind me sayin, I can see you’re outta aces.
For a taste of your whiskey, I’ll give you some advice."

Kenny Rogers, The Gambler (1978)

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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew LowryRobb Sheppard
PICTURES: Moseley Station — Creative Commons, Snow Hill — John Ball, Birmingham Cathedral —Verity Milligan

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