Bury St Edmunds railway station

Coordinates: 52°15′14″N 0°42′47″E / 52.254°N 0.713°E / 52.254; 0.713
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Bury St Edmunds
National Rail
General information
LocationBury St Edmunds, West Suffolk
Grid referenceTL852651
Managed byGreater Anglia
Other information
Station codeBSE
ClassificationDfT category C2
2017/18Increase 0.652 million
 Interchange Increase 401
2018/19Increase 0.665 million
 Interchange Increase 518
2019/20Decrease 0.658 million
 Interchange Decrease 429
2020/21Decrease 0.152 million
 Interchange Decrease 99
2021/22Increase 0.565 million
 Interchange Increase 446
Passenger statistics from the Office of Rail and Road

Bury St Edmunds railway station serves the town of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, England. The station is on the Ipswich–Ely line and all trains calling there are operated by Greater Anglia.


Early history (1845–1862)[edit]

The Ipswich and Bury Railway Company (I&BR) was formed to build a line from Ipswich to Bury St Edmunds. Its Act of 21 July 1845 authorised capital of £400,000 and it shared many shareholders and directors with the Eastern Union Railway (EUR), who were in the process of building their line from Colchester to Ipswich. The companies also shared the same head office location in Brook Street, Ipswich.

The proposed line was 26.5 miles (42.6 km) long, with intermediate stations at Bramford, Claydon, Needham, Stowmarket, Haughley Road, Elmswell and Thurston.[1]

The ground-breaking ceremony took place in Ipswich on 1 August 1845, where twelve local worthies (including the mayor of Ipswich, engineer Peter Bruff and John Chevallier Cobbold) each filled a wheelbarrow with soil.[2] Building the line was challenging, with problems at Ipswich with tunnel construction and at Stowmarket where the local marsh swallowed up a lot of material with test probes finding the bog was 80 feet deep![3]

On 26 November 1846, the first test train ran to a temporary station at Bury St Edmunds, with stops at most stations on the route with the inevitable lavish celebrations. The official opening followed on 7 December 1846, when a special train ran from Shoreditch (later Bishopsgate railway station) to Bury. The Board of Trade inspection took place on 15 December 1846 and the line opened for traffic on 24 December. The existing station at Bury opened in November 1847.[4]

The EUR and I&BR were worked as one from 1 January 1847 and formal amalgamation was obtained by Act of 9 July 1847. The Eastern Union Railway was taken over by the Eastern Counties Railway in 1854. By the 1860s, the railways in East Anglia were in financial trouble and most were leased to the ECR; they wished to amalgamate formally, but could not obtain government agreement for this until 1862, when the Great Eastern Railway was formed by amalgamation. Thus Bury St Edmunds became a GER station in 1862.[5]

The line was extended to join the Newmarket to Cambridge line in 1854.[6]

Great Eastern Railway (1862–1922)[edit]

The line from Long Melford opened in 1865 and the line to Thetford opened in 1876. A direct link to Ely was provided in 1880 at Kennett.[citation needed]

The Bury Yard signal box was opened in 1888. It was a GER Type 7 design with a Mackenzie and Holland frame.[7]

London & North Eastern Railway (1923–1947)[edit]

Following the 1923 grouping, Bury St Edmunds became a LNER station. During World War 2, Bury was an important freight location for the many airbases in East Anglia.[citation needed]

British Railways (1948–1994)[edit]

The station in 1966

In 1948, Bury St Edmunds became part of British Railways Eastern Region.[citation needed]

According to the Official Handbook of Stations the following classes of traffic were being handled at this station in 1956: G (Goods), P (Passenger, Parcels & Miscellaneous), F (Furniture Vans, Carriages, Motor Cars, Portable Engines and Machines on Wheels), L (Livestock), H (Horse Boxes and Prize Cattle Vans) and C (Carriages and Motor Cars by Passenger or Parcels Train); there was a 9-ton crane. Private sidings were operated by British Sugar, Burlingham & Son, J Gough & Son, Ridley Coal & Iron and H A& D Taylor.[8]

The Bury St Edmunds to Thetford line closed to passengers on 8 June 1953 and to goods traffic on 27 June 1960. The line to Long Melford closed to passengers on 10 April 1961 and to freight on 19 April 1965. The engine shed closed in 1959.[citation needed]

The railway bridge to the east of the station was Grade II listed in 1988.[9]

Privatisation era (1994–present)[edit]

Grade II listed Bury St Edmunds Yard signal box

In April 1994, Railtrack became responsible for the maintenance of the infrastructure. Railtrack was succeeded by Network Rail in 2002.[10]

Passenger services have been operated by the following franchises:

Due to the freight train derailment on a bridge near Ely in June 2007, trains to Peterborough from London (via Ipswich) terminated at Bury St Edmunds while the bridge was rebuilt. Train services resumed on 21 December 2007.[citation needed]

The yard signal box was Grade II listed in 2013.[7] A £1 million restoration scheme was completed during 2016 on the Grade II listed station.[14]

Train services[edit]

The following services currently call at Bury St Edmunds:[15]

Operator Route Rolling Stock Frequency
Greater Anglia Peterborough - Whittlesea - March - Manea - Ely - Soham - Bury St Edmunds - Stowmarket - Ipswich Class 755 Every 2 hours
Greater Anglia Cambridge - Dullingham - Newmarket - Kennett - Bury St Edmunds - Thurston - Elmswell - Stowmarket - Needham Market - Ipswich Class 755 1 per hour

Through trains to and from London Liverpool Street via the Great Eastern Mainline were withdrawn at the December 2010 timetable change.

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Greater Anglia
Greater Anglia
  Future Services  
Cambridge   East West Rail
Historical railways
Line open, station closed
Great Eastern Railway
Line and station open
Disused railways
Line and station closed
Great Eastern RailwayTerminus
Line and station closed
Great Eastern Railway

Architecture and layout[edit]

Sancton Wood's main entrance and towers

Designed by Sancton Wood, the station was inaugurated formally in November 1847, eleven months after the opening of the Eastern Union Railway's line from Ipswich. Wood was also the architect of Ipswich and Cambridge railway stations, as well as many stations in Ireland, including that of Heuston Station, Dublin.

The most noteworthy feature of the station, which is constructed of red brick with stone dressings, is a pair of towers on either side of the tracks at the eastern end of the layout; these were linked originally by an overall roof, removed in 1893. It was built first as a terminus; the station had four tracks, although in practice only one platform was used before the line was extended to Newmarket in 1854. Today, a wide space separates the two surviving through tracks, which serve platform 1 (for trains towards Cambridge or Peterborough) and platform 2 (for trains towards Ipswich and Harwich International).[16][page needed][17]

Early photographs show the station with the overall roof. Later photographs indicate major alterations had taken place, with a westward extension of the platforms; the join is readily apparent in the back walls to the platforms today, with the roof removed, extra rooms at platform level added to the west of the station master's house and alterations to the frontage of that house. Interestingly, the tall decorative upper chimneys are also shown as having been removed down to the basic rectangular stacks and conventional pots installed.

The semi-elliptical brick arch bridge over Northgate Road, to the east of the station, is a Grade II listed building like the station itself; it has been credited to Frederick Barnes, who was a partner of Sancton Wood and Charles Russell.

The two platforms are connected by a subway.

Goods facilities[edit]

A goods yard was situated to the west of the station, on the down side.

A substantial new goods depot was opened in 1953; it was converted later to a roller skating venue.

Engine shed[edit]

The first engine shed was located immediately west of the railway station when Bury St Edmunds was a terminus station for the Ipswich and Bury Railway. The opening of the line to Cambridge in 1854 saw the end of this first shed as it was in the way of the new line. A new engine shed of wooden construction was established on the north side of the line again west of the station. This shed deteriorated over the years and inclement weather in 1901 finished the structure off. The Great Eastern Railway, often parsimonious in matters relating to the locomotive department, left it until 1904 before a new three-road brick built shed with a north-light roof was built.[18]

As part of the Ipswich district in 1914 the shed had 30 men under a fitter-in-charge. The allocation on 1 January 1922 consisted of:[19]

Class (LNER classification) Wheel Arrangement Number allocated
E4 2-4-0 10
J67 0-6-0T 1

In 1931 during London & North Eastern Railway operation (1923-1947) 17 locomotives were allocated to Bury St Edmunds and Bury was re-allocated to the Cambridge district. At this time it acquired two sub-sheds at Sudbury and Haverhill. By 1950 under British Railways this had fallen to 14 but increased to 16 in 1954.

The shed had been re-roofed by July 1943 (dated USAAF aerial photograph) It was closed to traffic on 5 January 1959. The raised smoke hood was removed from the roof later that year, but the remainder survived for some time thereafter - until April 1961 at least (dated photographs). The turntable remained in use to turn locomotives on local freight services. The detached single storey office block remained extant until at least mid-1975.[18]

In the early 1970s, to release land for the new by-pass, the down goods loop was realigned to run adjacent to the down line on the site of the former engine shed. Shortly thereafter a short lived ready-mix concrete batching plant was established on much of the rest of the land formerly occupied by the shed.


  1. ^ Moffat (1987), pp. 49–53.
  2. ^ Moffat (1987), pp. 54–59.
  3. ^ Moffat (1987), pp. 62–65.
  4. ^ Moffat (1987), pp. 66–69.
  5. ^ Vaughan, Adrian (1997). Railwaymen, Politics and Money. London: John Murray. pp. 134, 135. ISBN 0-7195-5150-1 – via Archive.org.
  6. ^ Fellows, Reginald B. (1976) [1948]. Railways to Cambridge, actual and proposed (reprint ed.). Cambridge: Oleander Press. p. 24. ISBN 0-902675-62-1.
  7. ^ a b Historic England. "Bury St Edmunds Yard Signal Box (1414231)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  8. ^ Official Handbook of Stations. British Transport Commission. 1956.
  9. ^ Historic England. "Railway bridge (1183115)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  10. ^ "Network Rail closer to Railtrack takeover". BBC News. 18 September 2002. Archived from the original on 17 September 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  11. ^ "GB Railways wins Anglia". The Railway Magazine. No. 1149. January 1997. p. 11.
  12. ^ a b "National Express wins rail franchise". The Daily Telegraph. 22 December 2003.
  13. ^ "National Express Group Announced as Preferred Bidder for new Greater Anglia Franchise". Strategic Rail Authority. 22 December 2003. Archived from the original on 4 January 2004.
  14. ^ "£1m scheme revives Bury St Edmunds". Railnews: 7. December 2016.
  15. ^ Table 14 National Rail timetable, May 2016
  16. ^ Biddle, Gordon (2003). Britain's Historic Railway Buildings. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-866247-5.
  17. ^ "Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk". Great Eastern Journal (106): 23–29. April 2001.
  18. ^ a b Hawkins & Reeve (1987), pp. 267–274.
  19. ^ Hawkins & Reeve (1987), p. 377.
  • Hawkins, Chris; Reeve, George (1987). Great Eastern Engine Sheds Part 2. Wild Swan. ISBN 0-906867-487.
  • Moffat, Hugh (1987). East Anglia's first railways. Lavenham: Terence Dalton Limited. ISBN 0-86138-038-X.

External links[edit]

52°15′14″N 0°42′47″E / 52.254°N 0.713°E / 52.254; 0.713