Station Chaplain in Birmingham

Long serving member and Society Officer, Iain Frew, has been appointed as one of two Chaplains to take care of staff and users at Birmingham New Street Station.  His official title will be “Retail Chaplain to New Street Station”.  Birmingham’s principal city centre station is one of the busiest in the country outside London with tens of thousands of users each day, many changing trains at the station.    Train crews often start/finish their shifts at the station and around 300 Cross Country train crew are based there.   The station is at present being rebuilt with the above tracks facilities being significantly enlarged.    The Midland Metro Tram route is being extended from its present Snow Hill station terminus, through the heart of the city to end outside the present main entrance to New Street.    Iain’s duties will include being a source of help or advice the any station or train crew staff who have any problems.    An important duty will be to assist passengers who may be experiencing problems while changing trains.     His only uniform will be a bright yellow hi-vis jacket with on the back the simple words “Station Chaplain”.    It has been decided not to include the words “New Street” since when the massive “Grand Central” Shopping Mall being built on top of the station is opened in perhaps a year’s time the station itself will be renamed “Birmingham Grand Central”.   The use of the Grand Central name will be partly to attract traffic to the shops from surrounding towns.     The New Street name has for long seemed inappropriate since the station is not on New Street.      The station was in two distinct halves with a public highway running  through the middle of the site until it was rebuilt as part of the West Coast electrification work.      A railway owned hotel stood on New Street with its main entrance on New Street.     It was possible to reach the station by entering the hotel on New Street and walking out of the rear of the hotel virtually directly into the station.     The hotel is still there but now has no connection with the station so the New Street name has been redundant for many years.

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