Station Name: BARTLOW (Stour Valley Line)

[Source: Nick Catford]



Date opened: 1.6.1865
Location: At the end of Station Road
Company on opening: Great Eastern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 6.3.1967
Date closed completely: 6.3.1967
Company on closing: British Railways (Eastern Region)
Present state: All the station buildings and part of both platforms are still extant and converted into a private residence called 'Booking Hall'. The track bed between the platforms has been infilled up to platform level. The edge of the Sudbury platform is largely still visible but the northern end of the platform has been removed and converted into flower beds. At the southern end it has been covered with paving slabs. Most of the Cambridge platform has gone apart from the section ion front of the buildings which has been covered with paving slabs.
County: Cambridgeshire
OS Grid Ref: TL583450
Date of visit: July 1975 & 2.8.2005

Notes: Bartlow station had a long crossing loop serving the two platforms. The main buildings are on the Cambridge side comprising the booking office, waiting rooms and the station master's house with a waiting room on the Sudbury side. From the loop line two sidings served goods docks. Originally there were two signal boxes, one at the junction with the Saffron Walden branch and the other at the east end of the platform. From 1926 all control was transferred to the Bartlow Junction signal box.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE STOUR VALLEY RAILWAY
In 1846 the Colchester, Stour Valley, Sudbury & Halstead Railway was authorised by parliament to build a 12 mile line between Marks Tey and Sudbury. On 1.6.1847 further Acts were obtained allowing the company to extend from Sudbury to Clare with a branch from Melford to Bury St. Edmunds. The company was leased to the Ipswich & Bury St. Edmunds Railway which was in turn absorbed by the Eastern Union Railway the following month.

The line from Marks Tey to Sudbury opened on 2.7.1849 and on 1.1.1854, the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR) took over the Eastern Union Railway. In July 1860, the newly formed Sudbury & Clare Railway Company revived the 1847 Act and by a new Act of July 1860 they were empowered to build a line from Sudbury to Clare via Melford. However, as soon as the powers were obtained, the ECR took over and immediately sought extended powers to build from Sudbury to Shelford on the London-Cambridge main line, plus a branch from Melford to Bury St. Edmunds. At the same time, the Colne Valley Company, anxious to be independent from the ECR, sought approval for a line to Cambridge.

A bitter struggle between the two companies ensued but the Colne Valley Bill was rejected while the ECR received approval to go ahead. However, further changes were imminent and in August 1862 an amalgamation of companies including the ECR came about and the Great Eastern Railway (GER) came into being.

The Act renewed the authorisation for the proposed ECR lines to proceed with the addition of a connecting line at Haverhill between the Stour Valley and Colne Valley railways. The first section between Shelford and Haverhill opened on 1.6.1865. The remaining lines from Haverhill to Sudbury followed on 9.8.1865.

During the period prior to the First World War, the line saw some of its best traffic with through trains between Cambridge and Clacton via Sudbury. The war brought little reduction in traffic but by the 1920's the familiar pattern of road competition was setting in although rail traffic continued quite healthily for some years; some economies were made but many excursion trains continued to run.

When the Second World War came, the situation changed dramatically. Passenger services were reduced although freight services remained active. When the allied bomber offensive began, the lines assumed new importance with airfields being established throughout the area.

After the war excursion trains returned once again to Clacton and other seaside resorts. Changes came when British Rail announced a modernisation programme. From 1.1. 1959, steam was scrapped and replaced by diesel Railbuses and Multiple Units. Although passenger traffic showed some improvement, it was not enough to overcome the increasing losses being incurred.
In April 1965, the British Railways Board gave notice of their intention to close the line from Marks Tey to Cambridge with total closure planned for 31.12.1966. The Minister of Transport refused permission to close the Sudbury to Marks Tey section because of commuter needs and planned development at Sudbury.

The freight service was withdrawn from all the stations on the Stour Valley line during the 1960's; the last station to lose its freight service was Haverhill on 31.10.1966. Closure of the Sudbury - Cambridge passenger service was delayed while local councils considered providing annual subsidy; this was eventually refused because of the high cost. The line from Sudbury to Shelford closed entirely on 6.3.1967. In November 1969 the contract for the removal of the permanent way was awarded to A. King and Sons of Norwich and the track was lifted the following year.

The line to Sudbury survived several further attempts to close it and after the 1974 energy crisis and the threat of petrol rationing it was reprieved in the interests of the local community.

The Cambridge to Sudbury Rail Renewal Association was formed in 1995 to campaign for the restoration of the rail service between and Sudbury and Cambridge. A full feasibility study was commissioned in 2003 which showed that 73.2% of people surveyed would use the railway. It was then decided to form a limited company to present a more professional approach.

The aim of the Cambridge to Colchester Railway Development Company is to reopen the line in two stages. Initially the line will be reinstated between Cambridge and Haverhill with the remainder to follow at a later date. It is intended that the new line should carry both passengers and freight.

For further reading see: 'The Stour Valley Railway' by B D J Walsh. Published 1978 by Stour Valley Railway Preservation Society. ISBN 0 95064733 0 (£1.20 from Amazon)

Route map drawn by Alan Young

To see the other stations on the Stour Valley Railway line click on the station name: Pampisford, Linton, Haverhill, Sturmer, Stoke, Clare, Cavendish, Glemsford, Long Melford, Sudbury, Bures & Chappel & Wakes Colne

See also Colne Valley Railway
Long Melford - Bury St. Edmunds Branch Line
Bartlow - Audley End Branch Line


Looking east towards Bartlow station from Bartlow junction before 1914
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection


1903 1:2,500 OS map The Stour Valley line station is seen centre right. In front of the main station building a footpath leads to the Saffron Walden branch platform. The small branch waiting shelter is seen at the end of the footpath. Two signal boxes are shown, one to the west of Bartlow Junction on the far left, the other on the Stour Valley line to the east of the road bridge.

Class B12 4-6-0 No.61553 arrives at Bartlow with a Cambridge-bound Stour Valley local service in October 1956. This was typical of the work undertaken by the B12 class in their final years, having been ousted from main line express duties as train weights increased. This particular locomotive is something of a mystery as her allocation history differs according to source. She appears to be carrying a 31A (Cambridge) shedplate above but was supposedly not allocated to 31A until early in 1957. Built by William Beardmore & Co. in 1920, she was one of the class given ACFI equipment in the 1930s. Withdrawal came in August 1958. Note the leaves on the platform; it must have been a blustery autumn day at Bartlow when the photograph was taken. Despite being a junction station, Bartlow was said to jostle with Pampisford for the title of the least used station in respect of ticket sales on the Stour Valley Line. Unlike on many branch lines, the vast majority of Stour Valley Line stations were conveniently sited. A pair of coal wagons sit in the dock on the right. Note the rather gargantuan running-in board. There were two such boards and at least one is thought to have once exclaimed 'Change here for Saffron Walden Trains' but no photographic evidence of this has so far come to light. These boards were in two parts, 'Bart' and 'low', and the 'Bar' half of one of them ended up covering a drain (or an inspection chamber for same) behind Cambridge North signal box.
Photo by Peter Jamieson

In March 1958, Class J15 0-6-0 No.65451 arrives at Bartlow from Cambridge with a train comprising a van and three passenger coaches. The van appears to be a 'Fruit D'. The locomotive is not one of those fitted with a tender cab but could be heading for the Colne Valley Line. This particular detail is not recorded, however. Note the neatly kept flower beds; in those days the white bordering would have been more for aesthetics than for any health and safety, to use a modern term then unheard of, considerations. The Saffron Walden platform is out of view to the left but Bartlow Junction signal box, or rather its roof, can just be seen above the train. Elsewhere in the 'Disused Stations' website and in particular the page covering Worlington Golf Links Halt, mention was made of the 'pouch and loop' type single line tokens damaging the sides of DMU cars. On the platform at Bartlow, a token exchange using these 'pouch and loop' devices can be seen. No.65451 was a long-time Cambridge resident and she survived until September 1959. By the 1950s the J15 class was beginning to look a little antiquated, perhaps more so than the E4 class, but they were simple, rugged and reliable little machines which could show a surprising turn of speed when required to do so.
Photo by Peter Jamieson

Bartlow station looking west in September 1969
Photo by Nick Catford

Bartlow station looking west in September 1969
Photo by Nick Catford

Bartlow station looking east in August 2005
Photo by Nick Catford


 

 

 

:[Source: Nick Catford]


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