Newmarket and Chesterford Railway
|Newmarket and Chesterford Railway|
The Newmarket and Chesterford Railway Company was an early railway company that built the first rail connection to Newmarket. Although only around 15 miles (24 km) long the line ran through three counties, the termini being in Essex (Great Chesterford) and Suffolk (Newmarket) and all intermediate stations being in Cambridgeshire.
The line was opened in 1848 and was commonly known as the "Newmarket Railway". It branched off the London–Cambridge line at Great Chesterford and ran about 15 miles (24 km) north east to a terminus in Newmarket, with intermediate stations at Bourne Bridge (about 800 yards (730 m) west of Little Abington), Abington, Balsham Road (about 2 miles (3 km) south east of Fulbourn) and Six Mile Bottom.
Having completed this section, the Company planned a branch to Cambridge, but ran into serious financial difficulties and significant opposition from the Eastern Counties Railway. In 1850 all traffic ceased and the company went into administration. The Bankruptcy Commissioner, Mr Cecil Fane, saw that the company could be revived with imaginative leadership and took control; he suggested that one track of the double track line from Six Mile Bottom to Chesterford should be lifted and used to create the intended link to Cambridge.
By the time this was done it was realised that the Chesterford link would never be profitable, so the line was closed forever in 1851. This was one of the first railway closures in British history. The Newmarket and Chesterford Railway Company was bought by the Eastern Counties Railway in the mid-1850s.
The Newmarket terminus was replaced several times as new lines developed, its latest site being built in 1902. The "Old Station" was used for goods until 1967 and demolished in 1980. One platform of the "New station", the North side station buildings, and the associated forecourt, still exist but the buildings and forecourt are now commercial premises.
Photos of Balsham Road station while it was in use exist in the Rokeby collection at the National Monument Record, Swindon.