Notes: Cockfield station had a single platform on the down side of the line with a single-storey rectangular brick building with a hipped slate roof. This comprised a booking office, waiting room and ladies room with a gents; toilet at the north end. Opened as Cockfield, the station was renamed Cockfield Suffolk on 1 October 1927 to avoid confusion with Cockfield in Durham which was itself renamed Cockfield Fell in 1923.
Cockfield handled a full range of goods traffic from the small yard opposite the platform, this comprised a single siding with a cattle dock. F J Jennings' private siding ran from the yard to the adjacent Cockfield Hall. The hall, which was demolished in 1888, was bought by the renowned Newmarket trainer Thomas Jennings in 1865 and turned into a stud farm. He built the southern block of the buildings for use as mares boxes with an exercise yard, and the eastern strip as a cart lodge with a granary over it. The western side was the working horse stables and chaff house. When the railway came through in 1870 a siding was provided terminating under it so that grain sacks could be lowered into wagons. The siding was also used for bringing in cattle from Wales and animal feed in the form of sugar beet pulp from Bury St Edmunds. The siding was taken out of use c1940 when a tank trap was dug all the way along the western side of the line as part of our wartime defences. This were backed up with the row of pillboxes manned by the Home Guard.
Access to the yard was controlled by a signal box on the down side at the end of the platform, this was build around the turn of the 20th century. After closure to passenger traffic in 1961 the station remained open for goods traffic until 19 April 1965.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BURY ST. EDMUNDS - LONG MELFORD BRANCH
On 1846 an Act of Parliament authorised the Colchester, Stour
Valley, Sudbury & Halstead Railway to build a line between
Marks Tey and Sudbury. In June 1847 further Acts were obtained
allowing the railway company to extend from Sudbury to Clare
with a branch from Melford (Long Melford from 1884) 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 July 2nd 1849
but the extension to Bury St. Edmunds was not built. On January
1st 1854, the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR) took over the Eastern
Union Railway. Another company now emerged; the Sudbury &
Clare Railway which planned to make up for the failure of the
Stour Valley company to reach Bury St. Edmunds as approved in
the original 1846 Act. By an Act of July 1860, the Sudbury &
Clare Company was empowered to build a lone 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 (via Melford) to Shelford on the London-Cambridge
main line, as well as the branch from Melford to Bury St. Edmunds.
On August 6th 1861, 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 also renewed the authorisation for the proposed ECR
lines to proceed and the Melford to Bury St. Edmunds line opened
on August 9th 1865 with intermediate stations at Bury Eastgate,
Welnetham, Cockfield and Lavenham. The line was single throughout
except for passing loops following the Upper Lark Valley to
its first station.
Lavenham was a small textile town but the industry was already
in decline when the railway opened. During the period prior
to the First World War, the line saw some of its best traffic.
The war brought little reduction in traffic but by the 1920s
the familiar pattern of road competition was setting in although
rail traffic continued quite healthily for some years; some
economies were made. After WW1 the economic decline of the area
deepened as did the population in many towns and villages in
the area together with traffic on the line. At its peak, there
were 5 or 6 trains a day between Bury and Long Melford with
2 or 3 of these continuing to Marks Tey or Colchester but this
was reduced in later years.
Apart from local traffic, the line provided no real alternative
to the Bury - Colchester service via Ipswich and elderly rolling
stock finished its life on the line which didn't help with competition
from road traffic.
When the Second World War came, the situation
changed dramatically; passenger services were reduced although
freight services remained active. Changes came when British
Railways announced a modernisation programme; from January 1st
1959, steam was scrapped and replaced by Diesel Multiple Units.
Although passenger traffic showed some improvement, it was not
enough to overcome the increasing losses being incurred. Passenger
traffic between Long Melford and Bury St. Edmunds had become
very light and the line closed to passengers on April 10th 1961
with freight traffic surviving between Bury and Lavenham until
Tickets from Michael Stewart. Route map drawn by Alan Young.
To see the other stations on the Bury St. Edmunds - Long Melford
branch line click on the station name: Bury
St. Edmunds Eastgate, Welnetham & Lavenham
See also: Stour
Colne Valley Railway