Stour Valley Railway

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Not to be confused with Stour Valley Line.
Stour Valley Railway
West Anglia Main Line
Shelford
West Anglia Main Line
Pampisford
Linton
Saffron Walden Railway
Bartlow
Haverhill
CVHR
Sturmer
Stoke
Clare
Cavendish
Glemsford
Bury branch
Long Melford
Sudbury
Bures
CVHR
Chappel and Wakes Colne
Chappel viaduct
Great Eastern Main Line
Marks Tey
Great Eastern Main Line

The Stour Valley Railway is a partially closed railway line that ran between Shelford, near Cambridge and Marks Tey in Essex, England. The line opened in sections between 1849 and 1865. The route from Shelford to Sudbury closed on 6 March 1967 leaving only the section from Sudbury to Marks Tey, known as the Gainsborough Line, in operation.

History[edit]

Following acts of Parliament in 1846 and 1847 the Colchester, Stour Valley, Sudbury & Halstead Railway was authorised to construct a line from Marks Tey to Sudbury and then extend from Sudbury to Clare, with a branch line to Bury St. Edmunds forking off at Long Melford. Before construction was completed the company had changed hands twice and became part of the Eastern Union Railway.

The Marks Tey to Sudbury section of the line opened on 2 July 1849 and ran for 5 years before being taken over by the Eastern Counties Railway on 7 August 1862.[1]

In 1862 the Eastern Union Railway and Eastern Counties Railway were amalgamated into the new Great Eastern Railway.

After several years of protracted legal disputes, the Great Eastern Railway opened the section from Haverhill to Shelford on 1 June 1865 and then the section from Sudbury to Haverhil on 9 August. The Long Melford-Bury St Edmunds branch line from Melford to Bury St. Edmunds was also completed in the same year. The line was now connected to the Colne Valley and Halstead Railway at Haverhill serving Castle Hedingham, Halstead and Chappel and Wakes Colne.

The closure of the line in 1967 under the Beeching Axe was the subject of a protracted battle[2] and a proposal, led by Haverhill Urban District Council, that local authorities subsidise the line.[3]

The remaining operational section of the line is now known as the Gainsborough Line.

Traffic[edit]

Passenger[edit]

There were four trains each way on weekdays between Marks Tey and Sudbury in 1850, one of which went to Colchester. When services started between Cambridge and Haverhill there were three trains each way on weekdays. By the 1890s six passenger trains ran each way on a weekday with the majority going from Cambridge or Bury St Edmunds to Marks Tey or Colchester.[4]

In 1964 conductor guards collected fares on the trains and all stations on the line became unstaffed apart from Haverhill and Sudbury.[4]

Before the line closed (1966–7) there were two trains a day between Sudbury and Cambridge, four between Colchester and Cambridge and six between Marks Tey or Colchester and Sudbury, with a similar number in the reverse direction.[3] The service was operated by primarily by Class 105 and Class 108 Diesel Multiple Units, although some services were locomotive hauled.[2]

Freight[edit]

Coal between Peterborough and Colchester and agricultural traffic were the main freight flows on the line.[4]

Reopening[edit]

A study in 2004[5] looked into the possibility of reopening Cambridge to Haverhill and maybe the entire line. The campaign is now being taken up by Rail Haverhill (formerly the Cambridge to Sudbury Rail Renewal Association).[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ R.S. Joby (1977). Forgotten Railways East Anglia. David & Charles. ISBN 0715373129. 
  2. ^ a b "The Reshaping of the Stour Valley Line". Retrieved 10 March 2008. 
  3. ^ a b "Valley line subsidy talks to continue". East Anglian Daily Times. December 1966. Retrieved 18 April 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c Richard Spendlove (1992). Branch lines around Cambridge. HEGA publications. 
  5. ^ "Rail line could be reopened". BBC News. 15 January 2004. Retrieved 9 March 2008. 
  6. ^ "Rail Haverhill website". 21 November 2015. Retrieved 21 November 2015. 

Another source, particularly photographs, is Jeffrey Grayer's Impermanent Ways, The Closed Lines of Britain, Vol 9 - Eastern Counties, Noodle Books, 2015, ISBN 978-1-909328-28-0.

External links[edit]