Notes: The original Sudbury Station was opened on 2 July 1849 as the terminus of the branch from Marks Tey. When
the line was extended to Cambridge, a new through station was opened on a new alignment to the south and the
original single platform terminus became part of the goods yard.
The new line skirted the south side of the town which overlooked the River Stour flood plain. Due to its siting on the edge of the flood plain, there was never any substantial development to the south of the station.
The new station was built on a curve with two facing platforms with a slight stagger. The main station building possessed a modest dignity and was a larger version of those found at some intermediate stations on the line beyond to Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge, and on the Braintree – Bishops Stortford line. Located on the up side it comprised a two-storey L-shaped stationmaster's house with a hipped slate roof; this included the booking office and stationmaster's office on the ground floor. The east end of the building was single storey and also 'L' shaped and included waiting rooms and toilets. Both sections of the building were in cream-coloured brick with red brick used for the quoins and the door and window surrounds. The station was sited at the end of a tree lined approach road known as Station Avenue. There was a short canopy above the entrance for the benefit of arriving passengers with a substantial flat timber canopy with a fretted valance stretching the length of the building on the platform side. There was also a W H Smiths bookstall.
There was a smaller brick building opposite on the down platform comprising waiting rooms and toilets with a similar timber canopy stretching the width of the platform in front of the building. There was a covered iron footbridge of a notably austere design at the east end of the building. This was probably a later addition as it does not appear on early maps, and its somewhat crude appearance contrasted with the handsome design of the main building. A loop line ran behind the down platform.
Although the bulk of the goods yard was to the north-west with an entrance in Great Western Road. There was a dock running immediately behind the station building. This was certainly used for horses and may also have been used for livestock although the pens were opposite the first station platform, some distance away.
Sudbury had two signal boxes. Sudbury Goods was on the down side, 400 yards to the east of the station. This controlled access to the goods yard. The station box was on the up side a short distance to the west of the up platform.
With the closure of the Cambridge line on 6 March 1967, Sudbury once again became a terminus, and a buffer was placed across the track near the west end of the up platform which was now the only platform in use. Although the bulk of the line between Sudbury and Shelford was lifted in 1970 the track between Sudbury station and the Gasworks Cut (short arm of the River Stour Navigation) remained in place until c1974. When this track was eventually lifted most of it went to the Colne Valley Railway for use at their station.
The station was unstaffed from 15 August 1966, and the station building was boarded up and unused until 1974 when it found a new lease of life as the Sudbury Museum. The museum remained open until a break-in and fire in 1985 forced the museum to vacate the building.
Sudbury goods yard closed on 31 October 1966 but Sudbury Goods signal box remained open until January 1981; it was demolished two months later. By 1982 the down platform buildings had been demolished and the station footbridge carefully dismantled and rebuilt at the East Anglian Railway Museum at Chappel station.
By 1986 the track had been cut back and the west end of the platforms removed during the construction of the Kingfisher Leisure Centre. By 1989 the track had been further cut back requiring a short timber extension to the east end of the platform to allow trains to continue using the station. The section of platform under the canopy was fenced off and a bus shelter was provided for protection from the weather.
Sudbury station closed on 28 October 1991 and the station was once again resited to the old dock a short distance to the east to allow redevelopment of the 2nd station site. The station building was quickly demolished and the Kingfisher Leisure Centre was extended onto its site. The third station is still open as the terminus of the branch
from Marks Tey. It is now the northern terminus of the Gainsborough Line, which is managed by Greater Anglia, who provide all train services.
The unstaffed station is looked after voluntarily by 'Sudbury in Bloom' and is annually entered into the 'Anglia in Bloom' station competition, where it has won the Silver Gilt award in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The station also won the 'Best Station Garden' award at the 2008 ACoRP Community Rail Awards. A self-service ticket machine has been provided adjacent to the platform entrance. There is one train an hour operated by class 153 and 155s. The class 153 Super Sprinter is a single car diesel multiple unit converted from British Rail class 155s.
Click here to see a high resolution version of the 1884 OS 1:500 Town Plan showing both Sudbury stations and maltings sidings.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE STOUR VALLEY
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 June 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 July 1849 and on
1 January 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
A bitter struggle between the two companies ensued but the Colne
Valley Bill was rejected while the Eastern Counties Railway 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. (ticket from Roy Lambeth)
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 June 1865. The
remaining lines from Haverhill to Sudbury followed on 9 August 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 1920s 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
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 January 1959, steam was scrapped and replaced with diesel railbuses and multiple Units. Although passenger traffic showed some improvement, it was not enough to overcome the increasing losses being incurred.
Closure of the entire line to passengers from Marks Tey to Shelford (Cambridge) was proposed in the Reshaping of British Railways (‘Beeching’) report of March 1963. On 23 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 December 1966. On 19 September 1966 Barbara Castle, the Minister of Transport, agreed to closure from Sudbury to Shelford; however she refused permission to close the Sudbury to Marks Tey section because of commuter needs and planned development at Sudbury, and in the Network for Development map of early 1967 this branch would be shown as part of the basic network to be retained.
The freight service was withdrawn from all the stations on the Stour Valley line during the 1960s; the last station to lose its freight service was Haverhill on 31 October 1966. Closure of the Sudbury - Cambridge passenger service was delayed while local councils considered providing an annual subsidy; this was eventually refused because of the high cost. The line from Sudbury to Shelford closed entirely on 6 March 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
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
For more pictures of the Stour Valley Railway see David Underwoods 'The Reshaping of the Stour Valley Line' web site. Tickets from Michael Stewart (except 4772 Roy Lambeth). Route map drawn by Alan Young.
To see the other
stations on the Stour Valley Railway line click on the station
Melford, Sudbury (1st site), Bures &
& Wakes Colne
See also Colne
Long Melford - Bury St.
Edmunds Branch Line
Bartlow - Audley End Branch