Station Name: BIRDBROOK


[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: First appeared in timetable 10.1863
Location: On the east side of Station Road
Company on opening: Colne Valley & Halstead Railway
Date closed to passengers: 1.1.1962
Date closed completely: 1.1.1962
Company on closing: British Railways (Eastern Region)
Present state: The platform is still extant although the track bed is heavily overgrown. The goods shed is also still standing at the end of the platform; it has been reclad and is now used as a farm building.
County: Suffolk
OS Grid Ref: TL716419
Date of visit: March 1973, July 1975, March 1976 & 28.7.2005

Notes: A temporary station opened at Whitley on 18.5.1863. This was replaced by Birdbrook in October 1863.


An Act of Parliament of 30th June 1856 authorised the Colne Valley and Halstead Railway to build a line from the Eastern Counties Railway at Chappel & Wakes Colne to Halstead. The company found it difficult to raise the required capital and it was a further two years before construction started.

Before the line could be completed, there was a dispute with the Eastern Counties Railway about the siting of the junction at Chappel. At one point the CV & HR threatened to build their own station close to the Eastern Counties station. The dispute was resolved and the six mile line opened on 16th April 1860

By the time the line opened the company had obtained powers for a 13 mile extension to Haverhill and work started on 19th June 1860. The extension was opened in stages, to Sible and Castle Hedingham on 1st July 1861, to Yeldham on 26th May 1862 and finally to Haverhill on 10th May 1863. An additional station at Birdbrook was added in 1863.

With the formation of the Great Eastern Railway in 1862 the CV&HR retained its independence. In 1865 the GER opened a line from Sudbury to Cambridge via Haverhill where a connecting spur to the CV & HR was built.

From its opening, the CV&HR was in financial difficulties which were made worse when the local press mounted a campaign against the railway company. A receiver was appointed in 1874 and under his control new capital was raised which allowed the company to purchase three locomotives in 1876. Up until that date all rolling stock had been privately owned. By the turn of the century the CV & HR was enjoying its first and last period of prosperity.

Although close relations were maintained with the GER the CV & HR remained completely independent, until it became part of the London and North Eastern Railway in at the 1923.

Most CV & HR trains had been using the Great Eastern station as connections were usually required with Stour Valley trains. The old terminus had been relegated to a goods station with occasional passenger trains before amalgamation with the LNER made it redundant. The station became the first casualty was the terminus at Haverhill lost its passenger service on 14th July 1924 It remained in use as a goods station until 19th April 1965 and as a goods station it was renamed Haverhill South on 1st February 1925.

As with many rural lines, the popularity of the motor car hastened the decline of the CV & HR after WW2 and the passenger service was eventually withdrawn on 30 December 1961. Freight traffic lasted until 19th April 1965 and the track was lifted the following year. This was not the end of the line however. In 1973 two railway enthusiasts put forward a proposal to rebuild a short section of the railway to operate a steam service as a tourist attraction. After several planning applications permission was granted to relay one mile of the line west of Castle Hedingham. The first steam locomotive came back to the line in August 1973 and the following year the Colne Valley Railway Preservation Society was formed. Track laying began the same year and a new station, Castle Hedingham was built. At that time the original Sible and Castle Hedingham station was derelict and awaiting demolition. The owners agreed to donate the building to the Society on the condition that it was dismantled and cleared from the site within six weeks. The building was dismantled brick by brick and it took a further two years to rebuild, but externally it appears exactly as it did when first built in 1861.

To see the other stations on the Colne Valley & Halstead Railway click on the station name: White Colne, Earls Colne, Halstead, Sible & Castle Hedingham, Castle Hedingham, Yeldham, Whitley & Haverhill

See also: Stour Valley Railway
Long Melford - Bury St. Edmunds Branch Line
Saffron Walden Branch Line


Birdbrook Station looking south in March 1973
hoto by Nick Catford

Birdbrook Station looking south in about 1960
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Looking south along the platform at Birdbrook Station in June 2003
hoto by David Cobb









Click on thumbnail to enlarge




:[Source: Nick Catford]

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