Station Name: RAYNE

[Source: Nick Catford]
Date opened: 22.2.1869
Location: At the end of Station Road
Company on opening: Great Eastern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 3.3.1952
Date closed completely: 7.12.1964
Company on closing: British Railway (Eastern Region)
Present state: The platform and most buildings are extant and in good condition and now open as a cafe. A short length of track has been relaid for a carriage which will open as a small museum in 2014. The site of the goods yard is now occupied by a scout hut.
County: Essex
OS Grid Ref: TL725224
Date of visit: September 1968, May 1975 & 9th April 2004

Notes: Rayne Station was on the down side of the line with substantial brick buildings comprising station masters house, booking office, waiting room, porters room, lamp room and toilets. Initially the station didn't handle goods traffic but by the turn of the 20th century a small yard had opened accessed from a shunting spur. In the early years of the 20th century the yards was expanded with an additional siding running through a large brick goods shed. A shunting spur gave access to the goods yard with a goods shed. The yard handled a full range of goods traffic and had a cattle dock and coal yard. There was a signal box on the up side of the line; this was provided when the goods yard first opened..

Rayne Station was restored in 1994 and converted to a visitor centre with toilets a small exhibition and the working base for the Essex County Park Rangers who maintain the Flitch Way. In 2006 the Rangers moved to Takeley station and early in 2007 the office was converted into a tearoom opening at weekends from 11am to 4pm serving hot and cold drinks and snacks. In 2009 the tearoom was taken over by Rob Branch and is open every day and is now a very popular meeting place for visitors to the Flitch Way. For more information about the Booking Hall cafe visit their website.  A Scout hall now occupies the far end of the site where the goods yard was.

In August 2013 The Friends of the Flitch Way submitted a planning application to Braintree District Council for the siting of a railway carriage on rails at Rayne station for use as a general education display area and museum. The application was approved subject to conditions. In October a short length of track was laid and the carriage arrived on 16 October and it s now being fitted out ready for opening in 2014. See The Railway Carriage Project on the Friends of Flitch Way web site.

Click here to see 'Can't find me' the official video by Next of Kin which was filmed at Rayne station. Next of Kin are a harmony trio from Braintree who had a No 13 hit single in 1999 and appeared on X Factor in 2013.


By 1860 most of the rail network was in place, leaving only the gaps between main line stations to be filled. Central and West Essex, a predominantly rural area, had been largely ignored during the initial development because it wasn't considered a viable proposition.

In 1859 an unexpected proposal was submitted to Eastern Counties Railway by a group of Hertfordshire businessmen who were anxious to obtain easy transport for malt and barley from towns and villages in West Essex. Their proposal was for a railway line, 18 miles long, linking the towns of Bishop's Stortford, Dunmow and Braintree. They readily agreed to the proposal, offering to have the route surveyed and donating £40,000 to help with construction. The application was put to parliament and permission was given for the branch line to go ahead.

In 1862 the ECR was amalgamated with the Great Eastern Railway (GER) but directors were adamant they would continue with the branch line. Despite poor local backing and the shortfall in subscriptions, the GER decided to fully finance the line themselves and absorb all of the shares of the local company.

The first turf was ceremonially cut at Dunmow on the 24 February 1864 and contractors began work the following. Virtually the entire length of the branch line's 18 mile route was single track, except at Dunmow and one or two other stations where dual track allowed trains to pass each other. The line was finally opened for passenger use on 22 February 1869.

With hindsight, it is now apparent that the branch line was never going to succeed as a profit making passenger service. The branch line's saviour came in the 1880s. The sudden demand for agricultural produce in London combined with new industries that were starting up in Braintree, both required a freight service and it was this that was to provide important revenue for the railway. Freight traffic continued to grow, especially at the Braintree end of the line, but by the end of the 19th century passenger traffic to Bishop's Stortford remained light.

When the GER finally amalgamated with the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) on 1 January 1923, the new company made every effort to increase passenger traffic on the branch line by doubling the initial three passenger trains a day running in each direction, to six. But all to no avail. It was still the carriage of freight that supplied the revenue.

During the Second World War the line was used to transport thousands of tons of rubble for the construction of Saling airfield, 5 miles from Braintree and, later, when it became operational, massive loads of bombs were carried to the same destination under cover of darkness. The United States Air Force bases at Stansted and Easton Lodge were also regularly supplied with armaments and stores arriving via Bishop's Stortford and Takeley station. After the invasion of Europe in June 1944 the line was used by ambulance trains to bring back wounded soldiers.

After the war the public's use of motor cars and competition from bus transport increased, the passenger service between Bishop's Stortford and Braintree ran virtually empty and inevitably, closure of the line for passenger traffic was announced. Despite public protests, the last train to run between the two towns was on 1 March 1952.

Despite the loss of the passenger service after 83 years the line was kept open for freight traffic, which was still an important source of revenue. But by 1968 more and more freight was being transported by road and the branch line now became uneconomical to keep open.

By the end of 1971 all freight traffic had ceased, and on 27 July 1972 a final enthusiast's trip ran from Bishop's Stortford to Easton Lodge and back. By the autumn of that year most of the track had been taken up, apart from the last mile out of Bishop's Stortford. British Rail were considering the possible role this section of line might play in carrying additional traffic to a growing Stansted Airport, but proposals came to nothing and in 1974 the remaining track was removed.

Much of the old track bed now forms the Flitch Way a walking and cycling path from Braintree to Bishops Stortford along the 15 mile course of the Bishops Stortford, Dunmow & Braintree Railway line.

Tickets from Michael Stewart, Route map drawn by Alan Young, Bradshaw from Nick Catford


Other web sites: Railways of Essex & Branching Out

To see the other stations on the Bishops Stortford - Braintree branch click on the station name: Hockerill Halt, Stane Street Halt, Takeley, Easton Lodge, Dunmow, Felsted & Bannister Green Halt

Rayne station staff pose for the photographer c1907. William Veitch is seen on the left. He was employed by the GER as a a relief booking clerk which entailed travelling to various stations to work wherever his services were required.

1875 1:2,500 OS map. When Rayne station opened it was little more than a wayside station with no houses in the immediate vicinity. At this time the station didn't handle goods traffic.

1898 1:2,500 OS map. By the turn of the century the goods yard had opened with one siding running behind the platform with additional buildings being provided at the back of the platform. Access to the yard was controlled by a signal box opposite the platform. There has been some residential development around the station.

1921 1:2,500 OS map. The goods yard has been expanded with an additional siding running through a large brick goods shed.

A mixed goods train is approaching Rayne station c1910. The large brick goods shed can be seen to the left of the train. At this time the station staff took pride in the appearance of the station A number of barrows and trolleys are seen on the well kept platform.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Rayne station and signal box looking west c1950s
Photo by C Betts

Rayne station forecourt in June 1968
Copyright photo by John Alsop

Rayne station in September 1968. Although the station closed to all goods traffic in December 1964 the line was still used for freight traffic until 1971.
Photo by Nick Catford

Rayne Station looking west in c.1969, five years after the station closed to all traffic.
Photo by Ian Baker

Rayne station building in May 1975. Nature has taken over the platform and the out buildings are derelict and looking somewhat run down although the station house is occupied. The station would have to wait another 20 years before it was restored
Photo by Nick Catford

Rayne station in April 2004. At this time the station was used working base for the Essex County Park Rangers who maintain the Flitch Way.
Photo by Nick Pedley

In 2007 a tearoom opened at the station serving hot and cold drinks and snacks at weekends. In the summer of 2009 the tearoom was taken over by Rob Branch and is open every day and is now a very popular meeting place for visitors to the Flitch Way. This view is looking west in November 2012
Photo by Martin Stubbins

In early October 2013 a short length of track was relaid at the east end of Rayne station platform, 41 years after the track was lifted.
Photo from Friends of Flitch Way web site

On 16 October 2013 an old carriage was lifted onto the track; this will eventually house a small museum.
Photo from Friends of Flitch Way web site

Click here for more pictures of Rayne station




[Source: Nick Catford]

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