Station Name: SUDBURY (2nd site)

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 9.8.1865
Location: The site is lost under the Kingfisher Leisure Centre and its car park
Company on opening: Great Eastern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 28.10.1991
Date closed completely: 28.10.1991
Company on closing: British Rail (Eastern Region)
Present state: The station was demolished to make way for an extension to the Kingfisher Leisure Centre.
County: Suffolk
OS Grid Ref: TL877410
Date of visit: 2.8.2005

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.

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 Cambridge.

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 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 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 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)

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 name: Pampisford, Linton,
Bartlow, Haverhill, Sturmer, Stoke, Clare, Cavendish, Glemsford, Long Melford, Sudbury (1st site), Bures & Chappel & Wakes Colne

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

Sudbury Station Gallery 1 1900 - 1959

Sudbury station seen from the public footbridge to the east of the station before August 1905. In the bottom right corner a siding runs at an angle to a horse dock which is on the site of the
current Sudbury station. The end of a horse box can just be made out.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

11884 1:500 OS Town Plan shows the layout of the station No canopies or footbridge are shown on this map suggesting they may have been a later addition. The stagger between the two
platforms is clearly seen.

1904 1:2,500 OS map shows the layout of the station. The original terminus is at the top of the map; this became the town's goods station when the line was extended to Cambridge in 1865. The cattle dock and pens are seen opposite the old terminus building. Numerous sidings serve the malthouses on the west side of Great Eastern Road. Each has a small wagon turntable for moving wagons between sidings. A reversal from the line into the goods yard gives access to a short siding serving a railway-owned chalk pit seen top right. An additional goods dock is seen running behind the up platform. Two signal boxes are shown, one at either end of the station. The station box is on the up side to the south-west of the station and the Sudbury Goods box is on the down side to the east of the station. Click here for a larger version of this map.
 1963 1:2,500 OS map shows little change, either to the station or goods yard. All the sidings serving the malthouses are still in use but the chalk pit and its siding have gone and the pit is occupied by an engineering works. The original station platform is identified on the north side of the yard but the cattle pens opposite appear to have gone. The 5-ton capacity yard crane is identified just south of the main goods shed with the coal yard along the southern boundary of the goods yard.

An early 20th century view of the southern approach to Sudbury station seen from the signal post opposite Sudbury Goods signal box. The original terminus was straight ahead; this was closed in 1865 when the line was extended to Cambridge and a station was opened on the new alignment to the left. At this time the old station was incorporated into the goods yard. The line branching off on the right , which required a reversal from the goods yard , served a railway-owned chalk pit.
Photo from John Mann collection

A number of carriages are parked on the station forecourt awaiting the arrival of the next train c1910. The boy with the bicycle under the trees on the left side of Station Avenue was H. Ray Hills who became Mayor of Sudbury in 1955.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Sudbury station forecourt in July 1953. The stationmaster's house is seen on the right. Following closure of the booking office the building was used as the town's museum from 1974 until it was damaged following a break-in and fire in 1985.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Sudbury station looking east from the down platform in August 1953. The main station building was on the up side and comprised the stationmaster's house, booking office, waiting rooms and toilets. It possessed a plain canopy with a fretted valance stretching the width of the platform
in front of the building.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

A railbus is seen in the up platform of Sudbury station, probably in the late 1950s. British Railways produced a variety of railbuses as a means both of building new rolling stock cheaply, and providing services economically on lightly-used lines.
Photo from John Mann collection

A Marks Tey train waits in the up platform at Sudbury station in September 1958. The less substantial down platform building housing waiting rooms and toilets is seen on the right. Note the BR Eastern Region totem signs fixed to the building; being of half-flange design they will have been installed by 1957. Although these signs survived well into the 1960s they had been removed long before corporate identity signage was installed, and not a single Sudbury totem has ever been offered for sale.

An eastbound passenger service hauled by 62785 prepares to leave Sudbury station in October 1958. With just 12 months’ service left this Holden-designed E4 was built for the GER at Stratford works in 1895. The 2-4-0 entered GER service as No. 490 in the January and passed into LNER service at the Grouping where it was renumbered 7490. Renumbered to 7802 in November 1942, it was again renumbered by the LNER in 1946 to 2785 and received the 6 prefix at Nationalisation. Withdrawn from 31A, Cambridge shed, during December 1959, this loco has happily been preserved as part of the national collection and is restored to GER livery. It is the only surviving example of this class.
Photo from Jim Lake Collection

An excursion train is seen leaving Sudbury station probably bound for Clacton. The photograph was taken from up in the Sudbury Goods signal box c late1950s.

Click here for Sudbury Station Gallery 2 1960 - 2005




:[Source: Nick Catford]

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