The present day rail link
runs from Marks Tey through Chappel to Bures and finally terminates at
However, today it only exists as a small branch line compared to its original
route which ran from Marks Tey all the way to Bury St Edmunds or Haverhill/Cambridge.
The line was opened throughout
from Marks Tey to Sudbury for traffic on 2nd July 1849. The original train
service consisted of four trains in each direction on weekdays only. Fares
were governed by an Act of Parliament, namely 3d per mile first class,
2d per mile second and 1p per mile, third class. Third class remained
in force until 1956, when it was renamed second class.
The journey time between Marks Tey and Sudbury, varied between 28 and
45 minutes which was the average for such a branch line. (Today
by modern Sprinter the average journey time is 19 minutes)
It was not until 9th
August 1865, that the link to Bury and Haverhill was finally completed.
The Branch Line that
never was:- Railways were gradually spreading over the region and
it was proposed by a small railway company in 1863 called the Mistley,
Thorpe and Walton Railway to run a River Stour Extension line from the
main line junction at Manningtree along the south bank of the river through
Dedham and Nayland to Bures where it would have joined the existing Stour
Valley line which runs from Sudbury to Marks Tey.
Layout of rail
station showing sidings.
Layout circa 1900
Today the `Paddocks` housing estate resides on the former goods
(as reported in the 1858 Bury
On Tuesday evening of the November 25th 1858, as the goods
train was leaving Bures station for Marks Tey, the engine
burst with a terrible explosion, scattering portions a considerable
distance, some weighing above one cwt were thrown through
the air up to 100 yards away.
Both the driver and stoker were uninjured, the explosion
shook Bures with doors being blown open.
(December 8th 1857)
William Hicks a railway
porter at Bures, was charged with stealing peck of beans
from a railway truck the property of Mr H.W.Westrop. William
Woods, an officer of the Essex Constabulary, was charged
with receiving stolen property.
Wicks two months in prison and Woods six months hard labour.
Suffolk Chronicle January 5th 1867
Standard Oct 27th 1881
Bury and Norwich Post Oct
Suffolk Free Press Nov 24th
Bury Free Press, February
(July 12th 1887)
There was a fatal accident at Bures railway station late on Thursday
night when Edward Smith a married man aged 50 years an engine
driver from Bergholt road in Colchester and a native of Sudbury
was killed. A pilot or additional engine was attached to a heavy
excursion train travelling from Clacton to Mildenhall to assist
in the gradients between Sudbury and Colchester. The engine was
detached at Sudbury and was making it's way back to Colchester,
when approaching Bures level crossing, the gates of which were
closed, the engine stopped and the fireman got down to help the
gatekeeper to open the gates, when the engine got through the
driver got down and the three men were engaged in conversation
when for some reason the brakes became released, seeing this Smith
ran to the gates to throw them open, he opened one gate but was
caught between the buffers and the gate while attempting to open
the second gate, he was severely crushed and died instantaneously.
March 16th 1901
LNER Bures to Chappel
Child fare, First Class
The return half of a GER single fare
return to Sudbury, date not clear but probably around 1910.
(Ticket courtesy of Brian Pask)
< 1925 extract from Timetable
1925 Timetable indicates travelling
time from Bures to Marks Tey = 17 minutes
2016 travelling time = 12 minutes
Railway workers at Bures
Precise date unknown, but may well have been circa 1920
Four members of staff, possibly with initials HD, FC, AB and GC
AB would be Arthur Bitten.
HD :- Harry Diggins
FC:- F Cant
Image supplied by Guy & Caroline
The Railway Benevolent Fund was set
up to assist railway staff who fell on hard times especially during
Image supplied by Guy & Caroline
My Gt Grandfathe SAMUEL FRANCIS. worked as a Goods Porter for G.E.R.
at BURES at least between 1905 to 1911 and lived on High Street.
Prior to this, he had previously worked as a Goods Porter for G.E.R.
at FRAMLINGHAM STATION from at least 1891, living at Railway Terrace.
Also, Samuel may have attended to the signals.
There is a family story of him being an avid reader, and while awaiting
a train became so engrossed in his book, forgot to attend the signals,
which almost lost him his job and the house they lived. which belonged
to the G.E.R.
His wife's pleading I believe saved the day.
My grandfather Charles Phillip FRANCIS
would have been around the age of 12 at this time.
Courtesy of Sue Walker, Leicestershire.
Station Layout 1890`s
The passenger platform and station buildings were on the east
(village) side of the line. The main station building was of three
floors, partly because of the difference in levels at the site.
On top was a belfry which housed the train arrival bell, this
could be heard across the village.
This can clearly be seen on the photograph to the left.
Wagon of fruit sent
to Clacton, presumably apples.
Fred Eaves had two large apple orchards in the village.
One along side Colne
Road and the other behind Friends Field.
Both now vacant land
Ticket dated 2nd December 1932
To attract more rail
users special discounted Market Tickets were introduced to Chelmsford
was a large Malthouse on the west side of the line at the Sudbury
end with Brickworks beyond this. The signalbox was on the downside
opposite the Colchester end of the platform.
Cross & Garrods and Grimston & Co both had sidings at the
station, which could handle all classes of traffic except furniture
vans, carriages and portable engines.
To facilitate the unloading of wagons, a 1.5 ton crane on site was
Note:- The arrival bell hidden behind
The greatest obstacle between Marks Tey
and Sudbury was crossing the Colne Valley at Chappel and the Mount Bures
Construction work here began in 1847 at a cost of £32,000. The
original plan was to span the valley with a timber arch on brick piers,
but this was changed when workmen found brickearth on site. With brick
making material at hand, the design was changed in favour of a brick
Building this viaduct proved extremely difficult, to the extent, gunpowder
had to be used in places to move soil. The structure was completed in
1849, some two years later.
It is 1066 feet long, with 32 arches of 30 ft span each at a height
of 75ft. The workforce consisted of 606 men with a team of 106 horses.
Some 7,000,000 bricks were used in its construction.
The chief engineer was Mr P Bruff who
later addressed the Institute of Civil Engineers.
Listening to this presentation was Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the
renowned Great Western Railway engineer.
The Viaduct still stands today
as a monument to Victorian engineering
Photo courtesy of Game 1980
Mount Bures Ridge
from Chappel towards Bures traverses over 2 miles of deep cutting. Once
the Mount Bures summit is reached it then falls steeply away with a
1:90 gradient towards Mount Bures crossing and finally into Bures itself.
This proved to be major obstacle. There was little comfort or shelter
along this stretch of line, and the men desperately needed sustenance
whilst excavating the line. It was bleak to say the very least.
hard days work the workmen would walk to Bures to have a drink at the
local pubs. However, it was not so easy to return having to climb the
ridge back to Mount Bures after devouring many pints of strong ale.
the "Thatchers Arms" Public House was specifically opened
for the workmen. This immediately raised moral and provided refreshment
on-site with the added benefit of increasing the work rate.
The "Thatchers" still stands to this day and is in regular
Station 1950 - Signal box can clearly be seen.
||Outward half of an early BR monthly
return to Cambridge, dated 15th October 1951.
(Ticket courtesy of Brian Pask)
The ticket is an ex-London blank
card (which could have been issued for any journey from London)
issued from agency 903 for a journey from Liverpool Street to
Bures and back. This is the return half which would have been
used for the journey from Bures to Liverpool Street.
date circa 1954
courtesy of Brian Pask)
can recall in the mid 1930`s, timber being hauled from Assington, through
the village to the railway sidings. This contract lasted for at least
12 months. Typically, during 1938, 597 tons of timber departed from
Butlers Farm during the second World War
used to transport Blackberries and Mushrooms to "Robertons Wholesalers"
at Covent Garden. Butlers used to employ local villages to pick these
wild on the farm, as they were so prolific.
Butlers in the 1930`s also sent "SheepFleeces" by rail to
Otterburn in Northumberland for processing into wool. They were then
returned as Skeins which were unrolled into smaller balls of wool for
knitting. (Busky Laurie)
The main goods traffic was the transportation
of cattle. Back as far as 1913 on a Wednesday, an Express cattle train
would leave Colchester at 6.40am, destination Bury. This called at Chappel,
Bures and Cockfield attaching additional cattle trucks, finally arriving
at Bury in time for the morning market.
Cattle would often arrive back in Bures on the return journey, unloaded
and then driven through the village to their final destination, the
abattoir on Cuckoo Hill.
Various stations on the
line had cattle pens, allowing the transportation of livestock to and
from the Bury market.
This facility was axed during April 1961
The sidings can clearly be seen in the layout diagram above left. "Cattle
pen" is clearly marked at the sidings.
Outward goods traffic in 1938 amounted to 130 tons of meat.
Grain destined for the Maltings opposite
and to a lesser extent the "Mill", were shipped through the
Outward goods traffic in 1938 amounted to 2,308
tons of grain.
This was transported by rail to Swaffham railway station then
onward to Holme Hale.
Holme Hale was a station on the Swaffham to Thetford Line
The wagon label show the sender to be the "Bures Farming
Bures Farming Co is currently
being researched, the owners of this company remain a mystery.
Records at Companies House show it to be "Dissolved"
with no local name or address.
Why Holme Hale, this was on
the Theford to Swaffham line.
TO ABBEY:- this
may be a further clue, as there was an "Abbey and West
Dereham" station to the west of the Thetford line feeding
the Wissington Sugar Beet factory
This again is currently be researched
Other goods to numerous
to mention would have passed through the goods
yard, such as newspapers, bricks, coal, milk etc.
Excursion Sat 20th November
Rail ticket for a "Cheap evening excursion" from
Bury St Edmunds to Liverpool St.
This train arrived at Liverpool
St at 7.45pm, no idea what the latest train would have made the
Passenger traffic survey carried out during
1955 found that the Stour Valley services clocked up 3270 miles during
a single week, with a load factor of 17%, giving a ratio of running
costs to revenue of minus 415%.
1955 TRAIN EXCURSION
This was a new approach by BR to boost passenger travel.
300 people from Bures, Sudbury, Halstead, Lavenham and the Bury area
took advantage of excursions to Aladdin on Ice at the Empire
||This ticket was issued
to travel between Birdbrook (Colne valley Line) and Olympia
This ticket is not predated, which suggests that there was a series
of trains rather than just one.
(Ticket courtesy of Brian Pask)
Not only were seats assured on a heated
train but theatre reservations on behalf of the passengers had been
made and the train travelled direct to Wembley Hill station, only two
minutes from the theatre. Food was served on the train, programs distributed
and railway officials toured the compartments making sure that passengers
were conversant with all the arrangements.
A BR official said "We believe that this approach is paying
long term dividends"
||Steam locomotive transports goods
near Bures on August 16th, 1957
||Kilverstone Hall approaching
Bures, November 1958
||Signal Box 1958
(Courtesy of Suffolk Free Press)
On January 1st
1959 diesel multiple-units and diesel rail buses took over from
steam. This showed considerable cost benefit, but it did not stem
the steady decline of passengers from the line.
This image shows a Derby Ligghtweight Trailer at Bures station
presumably sometime during the late 1950`s
There is no records
of this being used on the line on a regular basis, so I can only
conclude this may have been a trial run to see the viability of
a replacement DMU.
Brush Type 2 diesels (now Class 31`s) were often to be seen on
the Colne Valley section operating Clacton to Leicester excursions.
At that time it was still possible to travel from Marks Tey through
to Cambridge or Bury
< Example of
Brush Type 2, not taken on this lone
With increasing road competition the last freight train travelled on
the Stour Valley Line on 18th June 1962.
in rail freight traffic is rather ironic as the arrival of the trains
had earlier caused the demise of barge traffic on the river, carrying
goods. Rail was now faster and more reliable.
The coming of road vehicles was now having the same effect and the carriage
of freight by rail, was ultimately doomed.
However, a single freight train was retained and ran between Sudbury to
Bures and back when required, but this ceased on December 28th 1964. The
signal box at Bures was no longer required and was demolished in 1965.
to Bury passenger service ceased 10th April 1961, Lavenham, Cockfield
and Welnetham continued to handle parcels and goods for a couple of more
Passenger service on the Colne Valley line ceased 1st Jan 1962
Long Melford to Lavenham track lifted 1962
Sturmer closed to freight on 25th June 1962
Welnetham closed to freight on 13th July 1964
Bures, Cavendish, Bartlow, White and Earls Colne and Gt Yeldham closed
to freight on 28th Dec 1964
Sible and Castle Hedingham closed to freight on 13th July 1964
In April 1965,
the then British Railways Board applied for permission to withdraw passenger
service from the whole of the line between Marks Tey and Cambridge. After
a bitter struggle, local opposition managed to get the section between
Sudbury and Marks Tey retained on account of its potential growth in commuter
traffic and the expansion of Sudbury. However approval was granted for
the section between Sudbury and Cambridge to be closed,
Bury to Lavenham
freight withdrawn 19th April 1965
Gt Yeldam to
Haverhill ceased 19th April 1965
Halstead, White Colne, Earls Colne, Hedingham, Pamisford, Haverhill South,
Stoke, Lavenham and Cockfield all closed 19th April 1965
Clare, Linton, Glemsford and Long Melford closed on 12th Sept 1965
Haverhill North and all freight on the Stour & Colne Valley lines
withdrawn 31st October 1966
All passenger services to the north of Sudbury
to Cambridge ceased on 6th March 1967
Chappel signal box and all points removed 20th August 1967
Marks Tey - Chappel - Bures - Sudbury was now the only original 1849 section
of the two branch lines remaining,
The Sudbury branch
line veers to the right at the
Marks Tey junction
Mount Bures Crossing
with Mr Yates the Keeper
at Bures with Robert Burch, 1962 - double track
DMU along the Mount
Bures cut, dated 1962 -
This date must be incorrect, as it still still dual track in that
Disused Signal Box 1962 as it was no longer required for the Freight
Demolished 6th Sept 1965
Aerial Photo taken 1965
The signal box still survives but the track sidings have been removed.
Today it is the site of "The Paddocks" housing estate
The main rolling stock during the 1960s-80s were Diesel Railbuses,
Class 105 'Cravens' and Class 108 DMUs.
Double track still
in existance during 1965 >>>>>>>>>>>>>
Taken 17th February 1973
DMU E56380 and E50378 arriving at 11.07am on the Sudbury to Colchester
Note, the Canopy was removed in the
Compare with the image above.
Also now single track - one track
was removed between 1965 and 1967
Mount Bures Crossing 1974, author
Mount Bures Crossing 1974, author
of Mark Dufton
Shown here in April 1978, Bures station with a Cravens/Gloucester
hybrid DMU about to depart for Sudbury.
DMU Class 105 on route to Sudbury
the 1980`s and 90`s, Class 101 DMU`s were a common sight.
A press cutting from
1983 " Passenger levels on all but the morning and evening peak
services are extremely low; the survival of this branch beyond the 1980`s
must be in the balance"
This photograph shows the demolition
of the station buildings.
Taken by Olwen Titchmarsh, August 1983
Class 105 DMU
of David Lacy
Station circa 1920
Three storey booking hall to the left.
House:- Left was used by the Station Master.
The right side was the Police Station
Little has changed.
The latter part of the
1990`s saw the arrival of modern rolling stock, in the shape of Class
Demolition of the station house
data taken from Branches & Byways of East Anglia by John Brodribb
updat with newspaper cutting 22/02/2017