Station Name: MILDENHALL

[Source: Darren Kitson]

Mildenhall Station Gallery 2: October 1954 - March 1959

Mildenhall on 2 October 1954. The cattle pen and dock are visible on the left, while the two 1905 cottages are visible in the right background. The signal arm could do with a lick of paint. The train at the platform has the appearance of the non powered end of a Lancashire & Yorkshire steam railmotor but it is, of course, the usual conductor-guard set used on the branch at this time. The two windows are guard’s lookouts. There is no sign of the locomotive; it is either still on the east end of the train or on the turntable, which is off the picture to the right. The lock-up and one of its slit-like
windows can be seen.
Photo from DK Jones collection

Mildenhall station forecourt looking east towards Station Road on 2 October 1954. The general style of the station building is, as can be seen, typical of the branch. On the right is the lock-up with another of its slit-like windows on view. The nearest chimneystack is curious and will be discussed with a later image. In the left background the two original staff cottages can be seen. Note the gas lamp with ornate shade over the station entrance. Further examples were to be beneath, and adjacent to, the platform canopy. The shades appear to have dated from LNER days and similar examples could be found at Cambridge, within the buildings and on Platform 6. At Mildenhall a train has recently arrived and a huge swarm of passengers is making its way from the station; well, a huge swarm by Mildenhall's standards. Note the man in service uniform; the quality of the image does not permit identification but it appears to be British although by this time the USAF had taken over Mildenhall airbase.
Photo from DK Jones collection

In April 1955 Class J15 No.65461 waits at Mildenhall with the 5.40pm service to Newmarket. upon returning to Mildenhall from Newmarket, it was the usual practice for the locomotive to run tender-first. There was a turntable at Newmarket but the tender-first running meant that the locomotive remained smokebox-first at Mildenhall, thus eliminating two turntable usages. Many enthusiasts and historians associate the Mildenhall branch almost exclusively with the E4 class, especially No.62785, but this is far from correct. The J15 class was the most popular locomotive choice for branch workings and especially those with side window or tender cabs. A firm favourite was No.65438 which had both. The locomotive seen above had neither but, as with many of the class, did have a tarpaulin which could be draped between cab roof and tender. Built in 1912, she survived until April 1960. The flower beds on the platform seem to have appeared around this time. They might as well have done as few passengers required the platform. The gentleman on the platform looking like an advertisement for Sandeman Port is probably the stationmaster who at this time was Len Eady. The lock-up and dock can be seen on the left and on the right are the staff gardens.
Copyright photo by RM Casserley

A September 1956 view of Mildenhall. Visible are the staff gardens, staff cottages and lock-up. The train is the 5.40pm to Newmarket and is formed of the usual ex-GER conductor-guard set. The retractable steps are just about visible midway along the brake third. There was nothing hi-tech about the steps; they were operated by a lever in the guard's compartment and simply swung back beneath the solebar and within the loading gauge. It is believe that there was an interlock with the brakes to prevent the train from moving until the steps were retracted. The locomotive, Class E4 No.62796, is one of those fitted with a tender cab. She survived until May 1957.
Copyright photo by HC Casserley

This view is undated but the platform edge has been repainted, recently apparently, so that tells us the image is no earlier than summer 1956. Under magnification, the British Railways totem logo can be seen at the top of some of the posters but the posters themselves are unreadable. In the distance the bridge at Worlington Golf Links Halt can just be made out. The locomotive turntable and pit are off the picture to the left.
Photo from John Mann collection

May 1957 and the branch favourite, Class J15 No.65438, waits at Mildenhall with an unidentified service. The train is the usual conductor-guard set strengthened with an additional carriage which appears to be in 'Blood & Custard' livery. The identity of this carriage has proved evasive; at first glance it looks like a BR Mk1 CK but the body profile appears wrong for a Mk1. As historically valuable as such photographs are, they rarely come with details of trains (as opposed to locomotives). The signal box is partially visible on the right and the lock-up can be seen to the left of the locomotive. By this time there was probably little of any value worth locking up and many of these lock-ups came to be used as general store rooms.
Photo from John Mann collection

Colour comes to Mildenhall on an unknown date in BR days. It is most likely to be in the late 1950s; a time when more households could afford television. Two aerials are visible in this image. The locomotive is recorded as being Class J35 No.64501 but that is nonsense as that locomotive is an ex-GER Class J17 but its number cannot be determined (see later colour view of a J17 at Mildenhall). Several of these were based at Cambridge and were common on the Mildenhall branch despite officially being too heavy. The class was given dispensation for the Fordham - Mildenhall section during WWII but in practice they had worked over the entire branch since pre-war days. This is not as strange as it may seem as the local civil engineer had a fair amount of discretion in these matters. This kind of flexibility is sadly lacking in industry today where the trend is for too many managers and not enough leaders. The J17 is awaiting return to Cambridge with a brake van. It will collect wagons along the way and may arrive at Cambridge with just three or four, or it may arrive with a quite lengthy train. It was normal practice for goods train locomotives to wait at the platform; with Mildenhall being a terminus and having a goods yard which essentially consisted of a couple of loops on which wagons were stabled, goods trains were compelled to depart from the station platform. The locomotive is steam-braked only. The car parked beside the lock-up is interesting. It appears to be an Austin 12 landaulette taxi. These pre-war vehicles were once common in taxi form in London so that at Mildenhall may well have been a pensione- off ex-London vehicle. They were largely replaced in the capital by the Austin FX3 which in turn was replaced by the ubiquitous FX4.
Photo copyright Colour-Rail 360095

This view dates from July 1958 and the occasion is an outing to Mildenhall by The Railway Club of the Friends' School, Saffron Walden. The Friends’ School Saffron Walden Old Scholars’ Association have been most helpful, it must be said. At the platform is a Waggon und Maschinenbau railbus, these having been introduced to the Mildenhall branch that month. Together with a handful or 'ordinary' passengers, the boys would have provided a good load for the railbus. The photographer informs us that the boys travelled from Saffron Walden via Audley End and returned from Mildenhall via Newmarket. The German railbuses seated 56 and had a maximum speed of 55mph. This speed may not sound very good but it was perfectly adequate for the work intended for these vehicles. The railbus seen above is in its second livery; a richer shade of green with ‘whiskers’. The whiskers, at least, were applied soon after the railbuses arrived in Britain. The tail lamp is still in place on the rear. The purpose of these lamps was, and technically still is, to indicate 'train complete' but regulations dictated they still be carried on single-unit vehicles. The carriage in the dock is interesting. It will have been a departmental vehicle by this time and is clearly of Great Northern Railway origin.
Photograph by Peter Jamieson and reproduced with his kind permission

A Cravens DMU waits at Mildenhall with a Cambridge service in March 1959. Unfortunately, without knowing the precise date the actual service cannot be determined for certain. The young boy on the platform suggests it might be a Saturday, in which case the train could be the 11.49am Saturday-only departure. This train was invariably a DMU and not a railbus. At this time the only DMU types allocated to Cambridge were the Cravens, Wickham, 79xxx Derby and a couple of the 79xxx Metro-Cammell sets. No doubt anybody waiting at Worlington could hear Cravens rasping out of Mildenhall as these units held first prize for rasping. The lock-up can be seen on the left and to the immediate left of the DMU can be seen the ornately shaded gas lamp which, for reasons unknown, was suspended
outside the canopy.
Photo from John Mann collection

A Cravens DMU waits at Mildenhall with a Cambridge service in March 1959, probably the same day as above. Again the young boy on the platform suggests it might be a Saturday, in which case the train could be the 11.49am Saturday-only departure. The lock-up can be seen on the left and to the immediate left of the DMU the ornately shaded gas lamp can be seen which, for reasons unknown, was suspended outside the canopy. What is presumably the driver appears to be examining something beneath the driving motor car of the DMU while somebody else, perhaps the guard, is loitering near the end of the loop. Despite the date being given as March 1959, most windows and droplights on this side of the DMU are open. Perhaps the heaters were on; they had two settings, low and high, but were unreliable on the low setting so tended to be left on the high setting and the heat inside the units could become overbearing. Alternatively, the windows and droplights could be open in an attempt to stop them rattling. This was something else for which Cravens were famous, but Mildenhall branch passengers endured it only occasionally over four years whereas Kings Cross commuters endured it daily for twenty years.
Photo from John Mann collection

Cravens at Mildenhall in March 1959. The guard is attaching the tail lamp ready for the return to Cambridge while on the right somebody has been un-attaching pieces of fencing to bodge the rickety sheds. It does not, however, appear that pieces of shed have been used to bodge the rickety fence. In the distance the bridge at Worlington Golf Links Halt is just visible. The lock-up can be seen through the canopy.
Photo from John Mann collection

Click here for Mildenhall Station Gallery 3:
April 1959 - August 1964



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