Colne Valley Railway

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Colne Valley Railway
Castle Hedingham station on the Colne Valley railway
Coordinates 51°59′48″N 0°34′47″E / 51.9966°N 0.5798°E / 51.9966; 0.5798Coordinates: 51°59′48″N 0°34′47″E / 51.9966°N 0.5798°E / 51.9966; 0.5798
Commercial operations
Built by Colne Valley and Halstead Railway
Original gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Preserved operations
Preserved gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Commercial history
Opened 1861/1863
Closed 1961 Passenger traffic
1965 Freight traffic
Preservation history
1973 land purchase
1974 Preservation Society formed
Headquarters Castle Hedingham Station
Colne Valley and Halstead Railway
Stour Valley Railway
Haverhill (South-CVHR)
Haverhill (North)
Stour Valley Railway
(Closed to Sudbury)
Hedingham (heritage railway)
Sible and Castle Hedingham
Earls Colne
Gainsborough Line
White Colne
(Open to Sudbury)
Chappel and Wakes Colne
Gainsborough Line

The Colne Valley Railway is a heritage railway based at Castle Hedingham Station, near Halstead in Essex, England. The railway consists of a 1 mile (1.6 km) long running line, with a fully reconstructed station, signal box and railway yard.


The railway occupies part of the former Colne Valley and Halstead Railway (CVHR), which opened in stages between 16 April 1860 and 10 May 1863.[1] This part of the railway was a through line from Birdbrook to Wakes Colne.

Under the Beeching axe, the line was one of many deemed uneconomic and hence surplus to the needs of the new railway strategy. The line remained open until 1 January 1962, when all passenger and freight traffic between Haverhill and Yeldham ended. On 19 April 1965, all transiting freight traffic ended.[1] The line was de-constructed and infrastructure demolished or recovered by contractors a year later, and the land on which the heritage railway station's now sits resold under the lines original construction terms to the formally owning Hedingham Castle estate (HCE).


A long-term lease on the required land was acquired from HCE in 1973, and the Colne Valley Railway Preservation Society (CVRPS) formed in 1974. Although originally a main line railway, the track and infrastructure was taken up in the late 60s, so on acquisition there was no remaining infrastructure onsite. The original Hedingham station 1 mile (1.6 km) away and was taken down carefully brick by brick, the bricks numbered, and the structure transported to the new site and subsequently reconstructed. The timber top half (first floor) of the signal box came from Cressing, remounted on a new higher (ground floor) brick base. The bridge crossing the River Colne came from Earls Colne in 1982.[citation needed]

The first steam locomotive to arrive on site was Hunslet "Austerity" 0-6-0ST No.WD190 shortly followed by No.72. Members of the CVRPS began to operate the locomotives on a short section of line. Despite its still short length, presently the CVR is home to three ex-mainline steam locomotives, and holds Pullman dining services on a monthly basis.[citation needed]

Closure threat[edit]

HCE was acquired by Australian businessman Christopher Young. Instead of then renewing the CVRPS's long term lease, the terms were changed to a five-year renegotiable lease. In 2014, with the current 5-year lease due to expire on 31 December 2015, Young via HCE offered the CVRPS the option of buying the site's freehold. The CVRPS gained sufficient funds and loan backing to complete the terms in December 2014, but were told by HCE that Young's plans had changed.[citation needed]

The CVRPS were informed at their Annual General Meeting on 22 March 2015 that HCE had decided the railway no longer featured in future plans for HCE.[2] Planning permission would be sought for redevelopment of the site, which lies in a conservation area - a subsequent Freedom of Information request by local media discovered that outline planning permission had been sought for 600 houses on the station. The CVRPS were served notice that operations must cease after 31 December 2015, with the CVRPS having to remove all its rolling stock and buildings during 2016,[2] with possibility of relocation to another heritage railway.[3]

In June 2015, it was announced by CVRPS that a new site adjacent to the current one had been procured. Permission was being sought from HCE to operate as normal during 2016, with the railway operating from the new site from 2017.[2] A new station would be constructed at each end of the line, which would extend to 1 mile 4 chains (1.69 km).[4] Later that month, it was announced by the CVRPS that the proposed new site was "no longer viable" due to reasons that were not disclosed.[5] In July 2015 it was announced that the railway, on its original site, was now safe.[6]

Motive power[edit]

Steam locomotives[edit]

Origin Wheel
Class Notes Photograph
LMS 4-6-0 Class 5MT No. 45163 built 1935, Under restoration.[2]
LMS 4-6-0 Class 5MT No. 45293 built 1936, Under restoration.[2]
SR 4-6-2 Merchant Navy Class No. 35010 Blue Star, built 1942. Under external restoration.[2] 35010 Blue Star at Colne Valley Railway.jpg
Hunslet 0-6-0ST Austerity No. WD190,[2] built in 1952. Operational.
Hunslet 0-6-0ST Austerity No. WD200,[2] built in 1953. Under restoration/overhaul.
Avonside 0-4-0ST Barrington, built 1921. Under overhaul.
Hawthorne Leslie 0-4-0ST No. 1, built in 1928. External restoration.[2] Castle Donnington engine - Colne Valley railway - Dec 2011.jpg
RSH 0-6-0ST 56 No. 60 Jupiter,[2] built in 1950. Under restoration/ overhaul.

Diesel locomotives[edit]

Origin Wheel
Class Notes Photograph
BR 0-6-0DM Class 03 No. D2041, operational. D2041 at Colne Valley Railway.jpg
BR 0-6-0DM Class 03 No. D2184, operational. D2184 at the Colne Valley Railway.jpg
BR 0-6-0DM Class 08 No. 08 411, under restoration Colne Valley Railway 978.jpg
BR A1A-A1A Class 31 No. 31 255, operational 31255 at Colne Valley Railway.jpg
BR Co-Co Class 47 No. 47 771 Heaton Traincare Depot, under restoration 47771 at Colne Valley Railway-2.jpg
Ruston & Hornsby 0-4-0DM No. YD43, ex-Admiralty. operational Colne Valley Railway 994.jpg
Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. 4wDM No. 349/41, operational

Diesel multiple units[edit]

Origin Class Notes Photograph
BR Class 121 No. 55033, built in 1960, operational W55033 at Colne Valley Railway 2.JPG
BR Class 121 No. 56287, operational
BR Class 141 No. 141 108, operational IMAG1582.JPG
AC Cars / BR Railbus No. W79978, built in 1958, static display. W79978 at Colne Valley Railway.jpg


  1. ^ a b Gordon, D. I. (1990). A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain. Volume 5, The Eastern Counties. Newton Abbot / North Pomfret: David St. John Thomas / David and Charles. pp. 162, 167. ISBN 0 946537 55 0. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Colne Valley shock: railway will close on December 31". Steam Railway (Peterborough: Bauer Consumer Media) (439): pp16–17. 27 March 2015. ISSN 0143-7232. 
  3. ^ "Colne Valley cash Conundrum". Steam Railway (Peterborough: Bauer Consumer Media) (440): pp28–29. 24 April 2015. ISSN 0143-7232. 
  4. ^ "Colne Valley moves to the other side of the river". Steam Railway (Peterborough: Bauer Consumer Media) (442): pp8–9. 18 June 2015. ISSN 0143-7232. 
  5. ^ "Colne Valley Railway's preferred site no longer viable". Harwich and Manningtree Standard. Gannett. 25 June 2015. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 
  6. ^ Colne Valley Railway is saved

External links[edit]