Station Name: STOKE

 

[Source: Nick Catford]



Date opened: 9.8.1865
Location: On the east side of A1092 (but hidden from it by a new house)
Company on opening: Great Eastern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 6.3.1967
Date closed completely: 6.3.1967
Company on closing: British Railways (Eastern Region)
Present state: Only the station building survives, the track bed has been unfilled up to platform level. The line to the west of the A1092 bisected the village green. All trace of the line and the A1092 bridge have been removed and the village green has been restored to its original state.
County: Suffolk
OS Grid Ref: TL742438
Date of visit: September 1969, July 1975, March 1976, 1980's & 2.8.2005

Notes: The station was opened as Stoke but was renamed Stoke (Suffolk) in June 1932 reverting back to Sroke on 14.6.1965. The station was offered for sale in 2005 for £475,000.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE STOUR VALLEY RAILWAY
In 1846 the Colchester, Stour Valley, Sudbury & Halstead Railway was authorised by parliament to build a 12 mile line between Marks Tey and Sudbury. On 1.6.1847 further Acts were obtained allowing the company to extend from Sudbury to Clare with a branch from Melford 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 2.7.1849 and on 1.1.1854, the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR) took over the Eastern Union Railway. In July 1860, the newly formed Sudbury & Clare Railway Company revived the 1847 Act and by a new Act of July 1860 they were empowered to build a line 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 to Shelford on the London-Cambridge main line, plus a branch from Melford to Bury St. Edmunds. At the same time, the Colne Valley Company, anxious to be independent from the ECR, sought approval for a line to Cambridge.

A bitter struggle between the two companies ensued but the Colne Valley Bill was rejected while 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 renewed the authorisation for the proposed ECR lines to proceed with the addition of a connecting line at Haverhill between the Stour Valley and Colne Valley railways. The first section between Shelford and Haverhill opened on 1.6.1865. The remaining lines from Haverhill to Sudbury followed on 9.8.1865.

During the period prior to the First World War, the line saw some of its best traffic with through trains between Cambridge and Clacton via Sudbury. The war brought little reduction in traffic but by the 1920's the familiar pattern of road competition was setting in although rail traffic continued quite healthily for some years; some economies were made but many excursion trains continued to run.

When the Second World War came, the situation changed dramatically. Passenger services were reduced although freight services remained active. When the allied bomber offensive began, the lines assumed new importance with airfields being established throughout the area.

After the war excursion trains returned once again to Clacton and other seaside resorts. Changes came when British Rail announced a modernisation programme. From 1.1. 1959, steam was scrapped and replaced by diesel Railbuses and Multiple Units. Although passenger traffic showed some improvement, it was not enough to overcome the increasing losses being incurred.
In April 1965, the British Railways Board gave notice of their intention to close the line from Marks Tey to Cambridge with total closure planned for 31.12.1966. The Minister of Transport refused permission to close the Sudbury to Marks Tey section because of commuter needs and planned development at Sudbury.

The freight service was withdrawn from all the stations on the Stour Valley line during the 1960's; the last station to lose its freight service was Haverhill on 31.10.1966. Closure of the Sudbury - Cambridge passenger service was delayed while local councils considered providing annual subsidy; this was eventually refused because of the high cost. The line from Sudbury to Shelford closed entirely on 6.3.1967. In November 1969 the contract for the removal of the permanent way was awarded to A. King and Sons of Norwich and the track was lifted the following year.

The line to Sudbury survived several further attempts to close it and after the 1974 energy crisis and the threat of petrol rationing it was reprieved in the interests of the local community.

The Cambridge to Sudbury Rail Renewal Association was formed in 1995 to campaign for the restoration of the rail service between and Sudbury and Cambridge. A full feasibility study was commissioned in 2003 which showed that 73.2% of people surveyed would use the railway. It was then decided to form a limited company to present a more professional approach.

The aim of the Cambridge to Colchester Railway Development Company is to reopen the line in two stages. Initially the line will be reinstated between Cambridge and Haverhill with the remainder to follow at a later date. It is intended that the new line should carry both passengers and freight.

For further reading see: 'The Stour Valley Railway' by B D J Walsh. Published 1978 by Stour Valley Railway Preservation Society. ISBN 0 95064733 0 (£1.20 from Amazon)

To see the other stations on the Stour Valley Railway line click on the station name: Pampisford, Linton,
Bartlow, Haverhill, Sturmer, Clare, Cavendish, Glemsford, Long Melford, Sudbury, Bures & Chappel & Wakes Colne

See also Colne Valley Railway
Long Melford - Bury St. Edmunds Branch Line
Bartlow - Audley End Branch Line



Stoke Station looking east in September 1969
P
hoto by Nick Catford



Stoke Station before October 1908
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Stoke Station looking east in August 2005 - only the station building survives
P
hoto by Nick Catford

1965

1969

1975

1975

1976

1976

1980's

1980's

 

2005

2005

 


Click on thumbnail to enlarge

 

 

 

:[Source: Nick Catford]


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