Shippea Hill railway station
|Location||Burnt Fen, East Cambridgeshire|
|Managed by||Greater Anglia|
|Classification||DfT category F2|
|1845||Opened as Mildenhall Road|
|1885||Renamed Burnt Fen|
|1904||Renamed Shippea Hill|
Passenger statistics from the Office of Rail and Road
Shippea Hill railway station is on the Breckland Line in the east of England, serving the Burnt Fen area of Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. The line runs between Cambridge in the west and Norwich in the east.
Shippea Hill is a request stop 77 miles 17 chains (124.26 km) from London Liverpool Street via Cambridge, in one of the few areas within Burnt Fen which rise just above sea level. The station is on the A1101 road between Littleport and Mildenhall.
It has been noted for its low patronage: for example, only 12 passenger entries/exits were recorded at the station in 2015/16.
The station was opened in 1845 as Mildenhall Road. In 1885 its name was changed to Burnt Fen, and in about 1904 it adopted the name Shippea Hill.
On 7 April 1906, a passenger train derailed due to excessive speed. Eight passengers were injured, two seriously.
Ordnance Survey maps from the 1920s show a network of narrow-gauge horse-drawn feeder agricultural tramways running south west from the station yard onto the Hiam Estate. There was also a standard gauge private railway branch running east to a chicory factory, which in turn had a network of narrow gauge agricultural tramways running south east onto the Chivers Estate.
On 3 December 1976, at about 4 pm, a passenger train collided with a lorry on an unmanned level crossing at Shippea Hill. The train driver, Robert (Bob) Hitcham, was killed and eight of his passengers were injured.
The wooden level crossing gates at Shippea Hill used to be operated manually by the signalman in the local signal box. In 2012, the signal box was closed and the crossing was renewed with automatic barriers and warning lights.
Quietest UK railway station
Shippea Hill has been recorded as one of the least-used railway stations in Britain. According to Office of Rail and Road estimates, it was the least-used railway station in 2014/15 (with 22 passengers) and 2015/16 (12 passengers). In 2016/17 there was an increase to 156 passengers. This trend has continued in subsequent years, to a recent record of 432 passengers in 2018/19. Due to its unusual status, it sometimes attracts attempts to boost its numbers. In December 2016, a finalist from The Great British Bake Off attracted at least 16 people to the station by handing out free mince pies.
Simon Usborne of The Guardian wrote, "It's hard to imagine a more desolate place to get off a train. Shipping containers for sale stand in a muddy yard behind the far platform, opposite the pitched-roof signal box, now shuttered. Otherwise the view is of field after field, some showing maize stumps, others now peat-black and ploughed."
Shippea Hill station was not always so quiet. The 1966/1967 timetable shows that about 12 trains a day called in each direction and it was used as a railhead for the airbases at Mildenhall and Lakenheath; many Americans boarded or left the train there.
Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pipe featured the station on their YouTube channel All The Stations, which catalogued their attempt to visit all currently operating railway stations in Great Britain. In Episode 17, on 3rd June 2017, they started their day at Shippea Hill and with a group of their friends plus three genuine passengers, they almost doubled the entire previous years total of 12 passengers in one day. After the video was published, Shippea Hill's passenger numbers spiked. In the Shippea Hill bonus video that was filmed the night before it was revealed that Vicki’s great grandad worked as a signal man at the station.
Shippea Hill is a request stop, so passengers must signal to the conductor or driver if they wish to alight or board.
Despite the next station, Lakenheath, being only a few miles away, there are no direct services between the two stations.
|Preceding station||National Rail||Following station|
- "City of Ely: Introduction - British History Online". www.british-history.ac.uk. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
- Lt. Col. P G von Donop / Board of Trade (7 May 1906). "Great Eastern Railway" (PDF). Railways Archive. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
- "Report on the Accident that occurred on 3rd December 1976 at Chivers Occupation Level Crossing (No. 1) between Lakenheath and Shippea Hill in the Eastern Region British Railways". The Railways Archive. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
- Scott, Patrick (6 December 2016). "Britain's most and least used train stations revealed, with one getting just 12 passengers a year". Retrieved 13 March 2018 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
- Usborne, Simon (9 December 2016). "A brief encounter at Britain's least-used railway station". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
- "Revealed: Britain's busiest and quietest stations". BBC News. BBC. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 February 2006. Retrieved 2 March 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Office Of Rail and Road. "Estimates of Station Usage 2016 - 17" (PDF). Office Of Rail and Road. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
- "GBBO mince pie station bid entices 16". 24 December 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2018 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- Marshall, Geoff; Pipe, Vicki. "There's No One Here - Episode 17, Day 28 - Shippea Hill to Diss". YouTube. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
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