BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ELSENHAM
& THAXTED LIGHT RAILWAY
The locally-promoted Elsenham & Thaxted Light Railway was
intended to relieve agricultural distress and to be extended to
Great Bardfield, over ten miles from Elsenham. In the event, despite
the GER paying half the capital cost and a large grant of £33,000
from the Treasury, little local capital was raised and there was
a five-year interlude between the granting of the Light Railway
order in 1906 and the start of construction in 1911.
The line eventually stopped a mile short of Thaxted church and
was opened on 1 April 1913. Typically of light railways of the
period the Elsenham & Thaxted was built with few earthworks;
steep gradients, only one bridge, and ungated level-crossings
with cattle guards wherever possible.
At Elsenham there was the connection with the main line and a
small goods yard. The passengers were usually few in number. A
few trucks generally followed the passenger coaches. The conductor/guard
issued thin white paper tickets straight to the passengers like
a bus conductor; there were no through bookings. The train slowed
down to 10 mph for the ungated crossings picking-up or setting-down
at the halts if necessary. There were no signals on the line as
only one engine was used on the line at one time. The line was
absorbed into the LNER on 1st January 1923.
A pleasant line in the middle of Essex it was an early victim
of closure as it was slow and poorly connected for passengers
and only offered two sidings for goods so that goods services
ceased only a year after passenger trains stopped running in 1952.
Further reading: The Elsenham & Thaxted Light Railway by
P. Paye (1976) Oakwood Press
To see the other
stations on the Elsenham & Thaxted Light Railway click on
the station name: Henham
Halt & Thaxted