Colne Valley Railway

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Colne Valley Railway
26I06I2016 Colne Valley Railway B4.jpg
Castle Hedingham station on the Colne Valley Railway
Coordinates51°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 byColne Valley and Halstead Railway
Original gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Preserved gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Commercial history
Closed1961 Passenger traffic
1965 Freight traffic
Preservation history
1973land purchase
1974Preservation Society formed
HeadquartersCastle Hedingham Station

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.

The line closed on 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 dismantled and infrastructure demolished or recovered by contractors a year later, and the land on which the heritage railway station now sits resold to a local landowner.


The site was acquired from the landowner in 1973 and the Colne Valley Railway Company Limited formed to operate the railway. A volunteers' supporters body, the Colne Valley Railway Preservation Society (CVRPS), was 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 Sible and Castle 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.[2]

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.[3]

Closure threat[edit]

CVR Company Limited was acquired by Australian businessman Christopher Young in 2005. The CVRPS agreed a five-year renegotiable lease to take over the operation of the railway for the 2006 season. In 2014, when the 5-year lease expires on 31 December 2015, Young offered the CVRPS the option of buying the site's freehold. The CVRPS pursued sufficient funds and loans to complete the terms by December 2015, but were told that Young's plans had changed.[4]

The CVRPS were informed at their Annual General Meeting on 22 March 2015 that CVR Co. Ltd. had decided the railway no longer featured in future plans for the site and[5] 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,[5] with possibility of relocation to another heritage railway.[6]

In June 2015, it was announced by Steam Railway magazine that a new site adjacent to the current one had been procured. Permission was being sought from CVR Co. Ltd. to operate as normal during 2016, with the railway operating from the new site from 2017.[5] A new station would be constructed at each end of the line, which would extend to 1 mile 4 chains (1.69 km).[7] Later that month, it was announced by Steam Railway magazine that the proposed new site was "no longer viable" due to reasons that were not disclosed.[8]

In September 2015, CVRPS was formally converted into a charity called Colne Valley Railway Preservation Ltd. (CVRPL).[9]

On 6 December 2016 CVRPL announced that the railway, on its original site, was now safe and the site purchased from CVR Co. Ltd. as a result of obtaining a heritage lottery fund grant for £1.75m along with support from Braintree District Council.[10]

Motive power[edit]

Steam Locomotives[edit]

Origin Wheel
Class Notes Photograph
LMS 4-6-0 Class 5MT No. 45163 built 1935, Under restoration.[5]
LMS 4-6-0 Class 5MT No. 45293 built 1936, Under restoration.[5]
SR 4-6-2 Merchant Navy Class No. 35010 Blue Star, built 1942. Under external restoration.[5] 35010 Blue Star at Colne Valley Railway.jpg
Hunslet 0-6-0ST Austerity No. WD190,[5] built in 1952. Out of service. CVR 0-6-0 Saddle Tank Engine -2.jpg
Hunslet 0-6-0ST Austerity No. WD200,[5] built in 1953. Under restoration/overhaul.
Andrew Barclay 0-6-0ST “Swordfish” No.2138,[5] built in 1941. On loan for 2023. Operational
Avonside 0-4-0ST Barrington, built 1921. Stored out of use.
Hawthorne Leslie 0-4-0ST No. 1, built in 1928. Static Exhibit.[5] CVR 0-6-0 Saddle Tank Engine -4.jpg
RSH 0-6-0ST 56 No. 60 Jupiter,[5] built in 1950. Under restoration/ overhaul. Colne Valley Railway Preservation Society (2).jpg

Diesel & Electric Locomotives[edit]

Origin Wheel
Class Notes Photograph
BR 0-6-0DM Class 03 No. D2041, Built 1959. operational. D2041 at Colne Valley Railway.jpg
BR 0-6-0DM Class 03 No. D2184, Built 1962. operational. D2184 at the Colne Valley Railway.jpg
BR 0-6-0DM Class 03 No. D2046, Built 1968. Under Restoration.
Ruston & Hornsby 165DS No.281266, Under Restoration. Colne Valley Railway 994.jpg
Hibberd 0-4-0DM No. 4007, Built 1947. Stored out of use.
Hunslet 0-4-0DM No. 1968, operational.
Lake and Elliot 4wd Fordson Major No. 1 "Henry", operational Henry at Colne Valley Railway.jpg
Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns Bo-BoBE No.7284 "Doug Tottman" (Heysham Power Station No. 1) Operational but stored out of use.

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 117 No. 51339, built in 1960, operational.
BR Class 117 No. 51382, built in 1960, operational.

Electric Multiple Units[edit]

Origin Class Notes Photograph
BR Class 307 No. 75023 (DT). Built 1955. Stored out of use.
BR Class 308 No. 75881 (DTCoL). has the London Underground Victoria Line Cobourg Street signalling centre display inside.
BR Class 312 No. 78037 (DTCoL). Stored out of use.
BR Class 312 No. 71205 (TSO). Stored out of use.


Origin Class Notes Photograph
BR Class 43 No. 43073, built in 1978, operational.
BR Class 43 No. 43082, built in 1978, operational.
BR Class 43 No. 43071, built in 1977, operational.


  1. ^ a b Gordon, D. I. (1990). A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain. Vol. 5, The Eastern Counties. Newton Abbot / North Pomfret: David St. John Thomas / David and Charles. pp. 162, 167. ISBN 0-946537-55-0.
  2. ^ CVR Guide & Stock Book. CVRPS. 1990. ASIN B002I254RM.
  3. ^ "Home". Colne Valley Railway.
  4. ^ "Colne Valley Railway forced from its site after 40 years". Halstead Gazette.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Colne Valley shock: railway will close on December 31". Steam Railway. Peterborough: Bauer Consumer Media (439): 16–17. 27 March 2015. ISSN 0143-7232.
  6. ^ "Colne Valley cash Conundrum". Steam Railway. Peterborough: Bauer Consumer Media (440): 28–29. 24 April 2015. ISSN 0143-7232.
  7. ^ "Colne Valley moves to the other side of the river". Steam Railway. Peterborough: Bauer Consumer Media (442): 8–9. 18 June 2015. ISSN 0143-7232.
  8. ^ "Colne Valley Railway's preferred site no longer viable". Harwich and Manningtree Standard. Gannett. 25 June 2015. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  9. ^ Charity Commission website
  10. ^ "All aboard! Railway preservation group secure almost £2 million in funding". Halstead Gazette.

External links[edit]