[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: October 1853 (first in timetable)
Location: Probable site west side of Church Road (formerly Church Lane)
Company on opening: Eastern Union Railway
Date closed to passengers: December 1853 (last in timetable - unofficial use recorded after that date)
Date closed completely: December 1853
Company on closing: Eastern Union Railway
Present state: Gate keepers cottage is a private residence. This is the only surviving gate keepers cottage on the line.
County: Suffolk
OS Grid Ref: TM119382
Date of visit: 24.10.2018

Notes: Bentley Church first appeared in timetables in October 1853. It was located on the Hadleigh branch and was intended as an alternative station to Bentley ready for when Bentley would be bypassed by the spur taking the branch northwards towards Ipswich. The diversion scheme was dropped and the station was closed. There is no actual evidence that the station ever actually existed. It is possible that the timetable entry was premature and the station was never opened. If it did exist it was probably a simple timber platform or maybe no platform at all.

Although the station appeared in timetable for three months it is only mentioned briefly in company minutes.  The minutes for 27 May 1857 records 'Bentley Stationmaster's trip to Church Crossing on the 11.20 am train to inform a gentleman of closing of the halt was made without a pass and he was informed.’  This entry strongly implies there was a halt near the church which had closed prior to 1857 but precisely where it was is unclear.  Another minute of 29 April 1857 records 'Bentley Crossing. Custom existed for last two years of allowing the following gentlemen to alight and get up at the level crossing on Hadleigh branch about a mile from Bentley station: the Revd. Mr. Keir, Rector of Bulby; Gosnell Page, Esq.; J. W. Gosnell, Esq. The Superintendent asks instructions re continuance of this privilege or practice to be discontinued, one week's notice to be given to those gentlemen.'  This might suggest this was the location of the halt which some people continued to use unofficially. If so, the implication is that the halt opened in 1855

According to the timetable trains stopped for passengers who had tickets for 8 miles and over, i.e. a journey that involved travel over the main line. This ruled out local use to Hadleigh, though this stop was much closer to Bentley village than Bentley station on the main line, as shown on the map below. The current Bentley village did not exist when the Hadleigh branch opened. The village was little more than a few houses round St. Mary's church.
There is no indication which side of the crossing trains would have stopped but it is assumed it was in front of the gate keeper’s cottage. The station is usually referred to as Bentley Church Crossing but this name is not used in the timetable. The crossing is also often referred to as Studd’s Crossing after the crossing keeper who manned it for many years. It last appeared in the timetable in December 1853. The cottage passed into private ownership in January 1963. The Church Road gatehouse is the only surviving gate keepers cottage on the branch.

Route map drawn by Alan Young.

To see the other stations on the Hadleigh branch click on the station name: Bentley, Capel, Raydon Wood & Hadleigh

Click here for a brief history of the Hadleigh branch
Click here for a tour of the Hadleigh branch in 2020

Bentley Church Road crossing keeper's cottage and the probable site of Bentley Church station c1920. Similar gate keeper's cottages were seen elsewhere on the branch at Capel, Jermyn's, Wenham and Raydon crossings.
Photo from John Mann collection

1882 1:2,500 OS map. The gate keeper’s cottage is seen on the east side of Church Road. The stopping place, if it existed, is probably in front of the cottage. The spur north towards Ipswich is also seen. The line was laid but it was probably never used as the diversion was abandoned.

In early 1964 British Thomson-Houston (BTH) Type 1 Class D8/1, later Class 15, No. D8226 moves over Church Road Crossing, Bentley, with the 4.10pm Hadleigh - Ipswich goods. The church of St. Mary, Bentley, is a short distance along the road to the left and the site of the short lived Bentley Church station is alongside the crossing keeper’s cottage. Careful examination of the track in the foreground shows it is starting to curve; this is the start of the curve taking the Hadleigh branch toward the main line which it will parallel to Bentley Junction, just north of Bentley station. The formation of the abandoned and quite sharp west-to-north curve is some 200 yards behind the camera. Class D8/1 was part of the original BR classification system for diesel locomotives and over time has become largely forgotten. The letter 'D' signified 'Diesel' and the first numeral signified horsepower in the hundreds, thus 'D8' signified a diesel locomotive in the 800hp - 899hp range. The second numeral, '1' in this case, signified the origin of locomotive. The NBL D84xx Type 1, for example, was Class D8/2. Class D8/1 or Class 15 was built by Yorkshire Engine Co. and Clayton but was always referred to as BTH, who supplied the electrical equipment. The prime move was the Paxman 16YHXL, a rather enormous 16-cylinder unit set to deliver a feeble 800bhp providing just 627bhp at the rail. Maximum speed was a mere 60mph. The type was ideal for branch and transfer goods traffic and during summer (no train heating facility was provided) could also be seen working local passenger trains. The class also operated in pairs on heavier goods workings but their low power, limited speed and reliability issues saw withdrawals through 1968 and 1969 as the type of work they were intended for disappeared. Thereafter concentrated in the London area, a number nevertheless soldiered on until 1971 and came to be rarely seen north of Cambridge and Colchester. D8226 was among the final survivors, being withdrawn from Stratford on 27 March 1971. Withdrawn examples were stored at Ipswich, at the by-then-closed diesel depot, awaiting scrapping, while four lingered on for many years as carriage pre-heating units but with traction motors removed. One of the latter, the former D8233, has survived into preservation.
Photo by GR Mortimer

Bentley crossing keeper's cottage in February 1988
Photo by John Mann

Looking east from Church Road at the probable site of Bentley Church station in February 1988.
Photo by John Mann

Looking east from the site of Bentley Church towards the junction with the main line in March 1988.
Photo by John Mann

Bentley Church Road crossing gate keeper’s cottage in October 2018. The probable site of the station was in front of the cottage.
Photo by Nick Catford

Bentley Church Road crossing gate keeper’s cottage in October 2018. The probable site of the station was in front of the cottage.
Photo by Nick Catford

The site of Church Road crossing in October 2018.
Photo by Nick Catford

Looking west from Church Road towards Hadleigh in October 2018.
Photo by Nick Catford

Looking east towards Church Road crossing in October 2018. The white van can just be made out through the bushes.
Photo by Nick Catford

Looking north across Church Road crossing in October 2018.
Photo by Nick Catford

Looking south across Church Road crossing in October 2018.
Photo by Nick Catford




[Source: Nick Catford]

Last updated: Monday, 01-Jun-2020 10:54:54 CEST
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