North Weald railway station

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North Weald
North Weald stn building viewed from platform 2012.JPG
Location
Place North Weald
Area Epping Forest
Coordinates 51°42′42″N 0°09′42″E / 51.7117°N 0.1617°E / 51.7117; 0.1617Coordinates: 51°42′42″N 0°09′42″E / 51.7117°N 0.1617°E / 51.7117; 0.1617
Grid reference TL496036
Operations
Original company Great Eastern Railway
Pre-grouping Great Eastern Railway
Post-grouping London and North Eastern Railway
Operated by Epping Ongar Railway
Platforms 1 originally; 2 from 1949-76; 1 from 1976-94; 2 from 1994-2004; 1 from 2004-07; 2 since 2012
History
24 April 1865 (1865-04-24) Station opened
25 September 1949 Transferred to Central line
18 November 1957 Line electrified
6 January 1964 Goods yard closed[1]
30 September 1994 Closed
November 2004 Reopened in preservation
2007 Closed
May 2012 Heritage services opened
Stations on heritage railways in the United Kingdom
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Portal icon UK Railways portal

North Weald is a former London Underground station in North Weald, Essex, that is open today only as part of a private heritage railway. Located between Epping and Blake Hall on the Central line, North Weald is now on the Epping Ongar Railway.

The station was opened in 1865 and closed to regular services in 1994.

History[edit]

North Weald station was opened by the Great Eastern Railway (GER) on 1 April 1865, serving principally as a goods yard, taking agricultural produce from the nearby farms into London. During World War II it was frequently used by airmen travelling to and from the nearby North Weald Airfield. Steam locomotives operated by British Rail for the London Underground ran a shuttle service from Epping to Ongar (stopping at North Weald) from 1949 to 1957, when the track was electrified and taken over by the Underground's Central line.

While the Epping to Ongar branch was normally operated as an isolated section of the Central line, for two days every year trains were run from London to terminate at North Weald: these trains served the North Weald airshow on the Saturday and Sunday of its opening at the aerodrome almost adjacent to the station. The normal Epping to Ongar shuttle dovetailed with this service passing the terminating train on the adjacent line during its southbound journey.

The line from Epping to Ongar is a single track line with the exception of North Weald station which functioned as the only available passing place for trains travelling in opposite directions. In 1888, however, the eastern end of the loop was severed and it was used only as a siding. The loop was restored in 1949 after transfer to London Transport, and a second (westbound) platform was built at this time, and both platforms were used from 1949 until 1976, the westbound track being lifted in 1978. Until this time, access to the two platforms was controlled from the original Eastern Counties Railway signal box still sited on the southbound platform to this day. Until this occurred, North Weald was the last section of the Underground network to be signalled using mechanical semaphore signals. Although disused, the illuminated track diagram in the signal box continued to show the progress of trains until its closure.

Closure[edit]

The Epping to Ongar branch was not heavily used and became increasingly unprofitable. The service was further undermined when the Greater London Council removed the running subsidy for the line because it was not within the boundary of Greater London, and no comparable subsidy was forthcoming from the local government agencies in Essex, which meant that fare levels were much higher than on the rest of the Underground network. Initially, the Sunday service was dropped, and then the Saturday service. Subsequently, the service was restricted to a rush hour service only of seven trains in each direction per day (three in the morning and four in the evening). London Transport (later London Underground Ltd) had made repeated representations to the government to close the line, but each was refused as there was no alternative mode of transport between Epping and Ongar.

A final request was made in 1994 with a proviso that the line was to be sold to a private organisation which would continue to run the services.[2] With the promise of continued services, the government finally agreed to London Underground closing the line. The line, including North Weald station, was closed on 30 September 1994. It was because of the intent of continued services that the line was left largely intact, though the two conductor rails were lifted (the insulating supports of which are still present on those parts of the line that have not been replaced). However, the promised service did not immediately materialise, and it was not until 2004 that a volunteer force restored a partial service as a heritage railway. Because London Underground would not provide platform space at Epping, North Weald is currently the westernmost terminus of the line, though a shuttle runs further west as far as Coopersale, though there are no station facilities there. It is intended to run to a separate station facility near Epping station in the future.

Current ownership[edit]

Main article: Epping Ongar Railway

North Weald station, as with the rest of the 6.5 mile branch reaching to the outskirts of Epping station, is undergoing significant improvement and infrastructure works in connection with its use as a heritage railway. These works are designed with the long term future of the branch and to enable the use of locomotive hauled trains (hauled by steam and diesel locomotives).

The station itself has been extensively restored, with all the rooms being restored to their original uses, restoring the station back to British Rail colours. The original GER signalbox dating from 1888 is being restored, complete with its original lever frame, as part of the works to signal the passing loop which has been reinstated through the station. The westbound platform has been restored, with a new accessible ramp installed and an original GER latticework footbridge (formerly from Woodford) is in the process of being installed to replace the British Rail concrete structure.

The branch will once again run locomotive hauled trains between Ongar and North Weald, with a diesel shuttle towards Coopersale and connecting heritage buses to Epping. The operating company has a long-term aim to once again run trains to Epping, both to encourage tourism and to run services for local people as it is hoped that a new platform can be built to be serviced by their trains, providing a viable interchange with Underground services to restore the rail services removed in 1994.

Connections[edit]

Local bus routes 62, 380, 381, 396, 501 (Sundays only), SB06 and Epping Ongar Railway Vintage Route 339 serve the station (and North Weald village).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hardy, Brian, ed. (March 2011). "How it used to be - freight on The Underground 50 years ago". Underground News (London Underground Railway Society) (591): 175–183. ISSN 0306-8617. 
  2. ^ Source: Epping Ongar Railway Ltd.

External links[edit]

Preceding station Heritage Railways  Heritage railways Following station
Coopersale   Epping Ongar Railway   Ongar
Disused railways
Preceding station   Underground no-text.svg London Underground   Following station
Terminus
Central line
Epping-Ongar branch
towards Ongar