Station Name: ASHDON HALT

 

[Source: Nick Catford]



Date opened: 14.8.1911
Location: At the end of Fallowden Lane
Company on opening: Great Eastern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 7.9.1964
Date closed completely: 7.9.1964
Company on closing: British Railways (Eastern Region)
Present state: Despite its earth, clinker and timber construction the platform and 'waiting room' are largely intact although the platform is now somewhat overgrown.
County: Essex
OS Grid Ref: TL574417
Date of visit: September 1969, July 1975 & 2.8.2005

Notes: After a local campaign the residents of Ashdon were given a new halt which opened on the up side of the lone on 14th August 1911. The platform was constructed of raised earth and clinker with sleeper frontage to the track and sleeper edging. An old GER carriage body was mounted on the platform in 1916 to act as a waiting room. The carriage was stripped internally and wooden benches fitted to the sides. The halt was never staffed.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SAFFRON WALDEN RAILWAY In 1835 Saffron Walden was surveyed as part of the London to Cambridge railway line and hopes for its future prosperity were raised. Unfortunately the intervention of Lord Braybrooke made the siting of a station in Saffron Walden impossible and a new station was constructed two miles from the town at Audley End.

It was soon apparent to the town council that they needed a railway connection to arrest the economic depression which had descended on the town. A public meeting was held in 1860 and a proposal was put to the Eastern Counties Railway for a branch from Audley End to Saffron Walden. Sufficient local finance was soon forthcoming and a bill was put before parliament on 14th November 1860 with the Saffron Walden Railway Act receiving Royal Assent on 22nd July 1861.

Even before the first sod was cut, there was a proposal, unpopular with some directors, to extend the line northwards to a junction with the recently authorised Eastern Counties Shelford - Sudbury (Stour Valley) line at Bartlow.

Construction of the Saffron Walden branch started on 18th May 1863 and on 2nd June 1863 the Saffron Walden Railway Extension Act received Royal Assent. The construction of the line was virtually trouble free and after passing a Board of Trade inspection on 18th November 1865 the branch to Saffron Walden opened 5 days later. The extension to Bartlow, although running through a much hillier terrain requiring cuttings and embankments was completed 11 months later opening on 26th October 1866

From the outset the line was beset with problems, passenger numbers were disappointing, not helped when the state of the track required a 10 mph speed limit to be introduced. To avoid insolvency the Saffron Walden Railway Company eventually sold out to the Great Eastern on 1st January 1877.

The new ownership brought changes with a through service to London being introduced in an attempt to increase passenger revenue, Goods traffic handled at Saffron Walden yards was increasing steadily each year.

WW1 brought added prosperity; although the line was now under government control, the prewar passenger timetable was retained and goods traffic flourished as home grown produce was dispatched to towns and cities to make up for the loss of imported food. The countryside around Saffron Walden was also used for troop training which brought added traffic to the branch.

After the war the 1919 General Railway Strike led to a decline in railway freight with local farmers turning to improving road transport. Passenger numbers remained healthy however as few local people owned cars.

On 1st January 1923 the GER was absorbed into the London & North Eastern Railway. Initially there were few changes but a railway strike in 1924 brought a decline in use of the branch with passengers turning to road transport. The 1926 General Strike brought a further decline in freight traffic from which the branch was never to recover.

Passenger receipts began to pick up in the mid 1930's when holidays and rambles in the country became popular. Shortly after the start of WW2 the branch began carrying evacuees from London and with petrol rationing curtailing road transport the line began to prosper with most trains running full.

After the war the service began to deteriorate with freight traffic back in decline following the lifting of petrol rationing. By the early 1950's the increase in car ownership led to a dramatic loss in passenger revenue but as several of the surrounding lines closed the Saffron Walden branch survived and as part of the 1955 BR modernisation plan diesel rail buses were introduced on 7th July 1958. Despite their success the line was listed for closure in the 1963 Beeching Report and despite a spirited local attempt to keep the line open the passenger service was withdrawn from 7th September 1964. Within a month of closure, BR announced their intention to withdraw freight facilities from 28th December 1964.

The junction at Audley End was severed by June 1965 and the majority of the track was lifted during the summer of 1968. A short section at Bartlow was retained and this was used during the making of the film 'Virgin Soldiers'. The last section of track was finally removed when the Stour Valley line was lifted in 1970.

Further reading: The Saffron Walden Branch by P. Paye - Oxford Publishing Company 1981 ISBN 86093 107 2

For pictures of other stations on the Saffron Walden branch see UK Branch Lines - Saffron Walden then and now web site and Audley End to Bartlow Branch web site

To see the other stations on the Saffron Walden branch click on the station name: Audley End, Saffron Walden, Acrow Halt & Bartlow

See also Colne Valley Railway
Stour Valley Railway
Long Melford - Bury St. Edmunds Branch Line

 

Ashdon Halt looking west in September 1969, a year after the track was lifted.
P
hoto by Nick Catford



Ashdon Halt in May 1963
Photo by P. Paye

Ashdon Halt in August 2005
Photo by Nick Catford

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Click on thumbnail to enlarge

 

 

 

:[Source: Nick Catford]


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