Along The Railway Line | South East Mainline | Staplehurst Railway Station

Opened in 1842 by the South Eastern Railway Company, Staplehurst was very much like any other rural station on the line. Staggered platforms and a tongue and groove timber building, similar to that at Pluckley, were erected in 1844.

Staplehurst Railway station

Goods facilities were placed on the London bound side in 1875, which included a coal depot and a through goods shed with four sidings. By 1885 they were complemented by more goods facilities on the coast bound side. The coal part of this yard remained right up to 1971, which was quite an achievement.

Staplehurst Railway Station

This new station building was erected in 1988 and the station was made fully accessible with the addition of this new footbridge with integrated lifts in 2008. the interior of the station building is clean and functional and during the morning peak it also has a refreshment kiosk.

staplehurst railway station

The entry and exit figures for 2019-2020 were 855 082

Staplehurst is a fairly modern station with little to show of its past, however a well-proportioned station building gives it a little character and the fully accessible platforms make it a functional place to catch a train. For the enthusiast the sight lines are very good, and it is fairly quiet, so videography should be ok.

Below is a video I shot for my ‘Along The Railway Line’ series in 2021 :

As always, thanks for reading, and if you can :

“Get out there, get on the railway and see where it takes you” ©

Along The Railway Line | South East Mainline | Headcorn Railway Station

Headcorn railway station

Headcorn was opened in 1842 by the South East Railway Company, initially as a terminus for the line as the extension to Dover had yet to be completed. The original station building was made of tongue and groove timber, similar to that at Pluckley, and a goods facility was also provided here.

This goods facility was provided by a single track which intercepted both running lines and led to sidings and a turntable on the Ashford bound side. In 1905, the Kent and East Sussex railway extended to Headcorn, and its platform ran parallel with the London-bound side. The link to Headcorn remained until 1954 when it was closed due to unprofitability.

The fast central tracks you see here were actually the original running lines. They were put into this configuration in the 1920s when the station was rebuilt, with two new platforms and two new slow lines. The other track you see on your left, behind the London bound platform, is a goods loop installed for the channel tunnel freight trains. This view looking coast bound will enable you to see clearly see the divergence to the slow lines.

As well as the goods loop on the right, the new station building was opened in 1989. A neat red brick design, it is very pleasant, and is kept in good order by the station staff . The taxi rank and bus stop are located just outside the building, like the exterior the interior is very clean and functional

At time of writing passenger traffic is provided by class 375 electric multiple units

Station signage at Headcorn is great, detailing all there is to do around the area. This includes the “Big Cat Sanctuary” and “Biddenden vineyards”, which are a short bus ride away. As already noted, bus and taxi ranks outside the station building will help you do this.

The entry and exit figures for 2019-2020 were 610 226.

Headcorn has some excellent views for the enthusiast, as well as many other sites of interest away from the station. The newish station building is functional, and although not the original, does not look out of place.

Below is a link to a small video I filmed here in 2021.

Thanks for reading, and if you can :

“Get out there, get on the railway and see where it takes you” ©

Along The Railway Line | South East Mainline | Pluckley Railway Station

Pluckley Railway Station

A very charming rural station set in the heart of Kent, which is more that meets the eye.

A railway station has been in the area since 1842, but this current station opened in 1844. As with most small stations in this area it has a staggered platform design. The building here is not the original, but a rebuild done in 1885 and is a superb example of a south east railway structure. In fact it is the oldest station building in the country still in regular use, albeit only on weekday mornings.

Pluckley railway station

Pluckley had various sidings in its time, serving a coal yard and goods yard, the latter supplying horse manure. But the main purpose of the station yard was to supply the Pluckley tile and brickworks to the west of the station.

Many walks can be had from this station, and the areas rich history can be seen on an information board just outside the station building.

Entry and Exit figures for 2019 / 2020 were 122 696

Although very unassuming at first, Pluckley railway station has a charm which lends itself to further exploration. The area around the station is steeped with history and the overall feel is that the station is loved by the community. I hope this continues, as it would be a shame to lose the old station building and the history which surrounds it.

A video I took in 2021 takes you on a tour of this station.

Top Ten Least Used Railway Stations in Suffolk | 2 – Brampton (Suffolk)

Brampton was opened in 1854 by the East Suffolk Railway, on the same day the rest of the East Suffolk line opened.  The railway station and indeed line was absorbed into the Great Eastern Railway in 1862

It serves not only Brampton, but other villages nearby like Redisham.

Finding out any history for this station has proved extremely difficult, both in paper and internet form.  So if anyone has anything to add, please comment down below, it will be most appreciated.

It used to be a request stop, but on the day of my visit in 2021 it was not, and a check of the timetables seem to confirm that, for the time being at least, it is now a regular stop on the line.

A good set of walks in the local area get to this point, and there is even a circular walk from the station via Shadingfield, which is contained within a free walks booklet.

Passenger services at time of writing are provided by class 755 Bi-Mode units.

Passenger exit and entry figures for 2019 / 2020 were 9, 858

In conclusion, Brampton is a charming and very quiet station along this line. It is also very well maintained. The fact that it is no longer a request stop gives hope that it will remain so for a many years to come. For the enthusiast sight lines are excellent, a visit when an engineering train is due would be recommended.

Below is a video taken in 2021 as part of this series.

Top Ten Least Used Railway Stations in Suffolk | 3 – Somerleyton

Somerleyton was opened in 1847 by the Norfolk Railway.  This was taken over, like all on the surrounding lines, in the mid 1800’s by the Great Eastern Railway.  The village which it serves is around 1 mile from here.

As well as Somerleyton hall, which has featured in many films and tv shows including the crown as a replica for Sandringham, the village has another claim to fame.  It was home to the first testing of the hovercraft, which was built by Sir Christopher Cockerell.

The line moves towards Norwich over the river Waveney via the Somerleyton swing bridge, pictured below. This can yield some pretty good photos and video of trains coming to and from the station.

Even after extensive research , I could not find any documentation of sidings at this location, however there used to be a major brickworks nearby, so I would assume that they would have had a siding or two.  If anyone knows anymore, please comment below.

In fact, details about the station history are extremely sparse, I would welcome more information to flesh out this Blog, but unfortunately after a lot of looking this is all the history I could find.

At time of writing , passenger services are provided by class 755 Bi-Mode Units. Other movements are very rare, with just an occasional engineering, measurement or rail head treatment train.

The entry and exit figures for 2019 / 2020 were 10, 898.

Somerleyton is a very picturesque station, plenty of flowers and trees, plus good sweeping views of the track make it ideal for photography and videography; just check to see if an engineering train is due and it should yield a superb and unique photo. The original station building is a bonus, albeit now in private hands. Overall a superb little station which hopefully will remain open in the future.

Oh and also comment about pronunciation of this station, I am unsure of it, and wary of getting it wrong!

Below is my Vlog which I filmed during a visit in 2021 :

Top Ten Least Used Railway Stations in Suffolk | 4 – Westerfield

Westerfield was opened by the East Suffolk railway in 1859, but a few years later like the rest of the stations on the line, it was taken over by the Great Eastern Railway.

At this time the branch to Felixstowe was not here, but this was added in 1877.

Bay platforms were included for trains running to and from Felixstowe from the opening of the branch line.  This continued until 1879, when most trains continued on towards Ipswich, the bays then being used for storage.

From the 1880’s, the station had sidings which served the Westerfield steam brewery, as well as a coal merchant.  During the second world war, these would also be used for storing engines, including the Polish armour train.

After the war, they were used as stabling for the Pullman camping coaches during the winter, these being moved to Felixstowe for use during the summer months.

Unfortunately like most other stations, these sidings were closed un 1964, and the booking office closed soon after, the station becoming a “Pay-Train” station, where you bought your ticket from the guard on the train.

View towards Lowestoft, the spur to the Felixstowe branch is to the right. Freight from Ipswich crosses to the right line just before the level crossing.

Modernisation of the track layout, including the addition of automatic barriers have taken place, and although not terribly busy with passengers, the line here sees much freight to and from the port, as well as the occasional nuclear flask train from Sizewell.

The original station building remains, although this is now a private residence.

As well as an electronic ticket machine, posters, bike rack and new style service information boards, the station has recently been enhanced with an extensive wildflower garden on platform one. Created by East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, Suffolk Butterfly Conservation Trust, Friends of the Earth and Greater Anglia, it certainly brightens up the station.

At time of writing, passenger traffic is provided by class 755 Bi-Mode units, with most of the passing freight hauled by class 66 locomotives.

A video is below, taken during a visit in 2021 :

Below is a link to the East Suffolk Lines Community Partnership :

Top Ten Least Used Railway Stations in Suffolk | 5 – Trimley

Trimley was opened in 1891 by the Great Eastern Railway.  Its primary purpose was to fill the gap between the station at Orwell and Felixstowe beach, both of which were substantially far away from the village.

A few freight lines were here, but were withdrawn in 1964, and in 1967 the station building was closed.  This meant that together with the rest of the branch line, the station became a “pay train” station, with the guards collecting fares.  This left only the signalmen at the station, whose purpose was to operate the level crossing and signalling away from the station.

A direct line to the docks at Felixstowe was opened in 1970, and 17 years later in 1987, the spur down to the north freightliner terminal was opened to the south of the station.

The spur to the North terminal is clear to see on the right

The removal of the signal box in 1997 meant the installation of the automatic barriers, and control of these and the points was now undertaken by the Colchester panel signal box.

The station building was a version of a new Essex style, one of only two to be built outside Essex.  Its interior would have included a first class waiting room, porters lodge, booking office and combined booking hall and waiting room.  A ladies room with toilet completed the facilities.

There was also a small building on the other platform, but this was demolished a long time ago.

Although at time of filming it is in a very bad state, it is still standing, and is now under control of the Trimly station community trust.  They gained control of a long term lease in 2011.  Their ambition is similar to that of the station at Wickham Market, to transform the station into a café and meeting room whilst preserving the station fabric.

They have a long way to go, and recent months (2021/2022) have seen Greater Anglia seek improvements to the station which ‘may’ involve the demolition of the building, but nothing has been set in concrete. Hopefully in the coming months both fundraising and grants may become available, however multiple applications to the national lottery heritage trust have not borne fruit.  I do hope this situation changes for the better, as it would be a shame to lose such a quaint and historically important station.  If you wish to know more, I have provided a link in the video description below.

Facilities include a waiting shelter, help point, electronic ticketing machine and new style service information boards.

Passenger traffic at time of writing is provided by class 755 Bi-Mode units, and almost all freight is hauled by class 66 Locomotives.

A class 66 heads towards Felixstowe

The entry and exit figures for 2019 / 2020 were 31, 122. These figures are used as the figures for 2020 / 2021 are unreliable due to being very skewed by the pandemic.

Still a functioning station for the village, Trimley could be so much more.  I hope that the building gets funding and finally gives the village a focal point it deserves.

For the enthusiasts, obviously the abundance of freight (albeit only intermodal) plus excellent sightlines, gives plenty of video and photo opportunities.

I recorded a video for this station in 2021, and you can view it below :

Links to the Trimley station community trust :

http://www.trimleystation.org/

https://www.facebook.com/TrimleyStation/

Top Ten Least Used Railway Stations in Suffolk | 6 – Oulton Broad South

Opened in 1859 by the East Suffolk Railway, it was originally named Carlton Colville.  The line like most in Suffolk was amalgamated with the Great Eastern Railway shortly after.  The station wasn’t renamed to Oulton Broad South until 1927

Just to the east of the station under the road bridge, the line split to the Kirkley branch, with services to sites on Lake Lothing.

These included sidings into Kirkley goods depot.  Companies using these would include Boulton and Pauls canning products, and confectionery from Mortons and the co-op group.  This line was fully closed in 1972, and no real trace of it remains.

A station building remains on the working platform, the line here being single running at this point since the late 1980’s.  However the other platform remains with a building which is used for small businesses.  The small goods yard which was adjacent to that platform is now a car park, but its history contains the fact that pullman camping coaches were positioned here between 1952 and the late 1960’s

This view from the road bridge shows clearly that the line used to be double tracked at this point.

Passenger services at time of writing are provided by class 755 bi mode units.

As far as facilities go, the station has an electronic ticketing machine, help points and posters not only for the regional rail network, but also information about the area. There is also this old style ‘direction of travel’ board, which is great to see.

The passenger entry and exit figures for 2019/2020 were 43, 518

Oulton broad south is a quiet station, but is still used fairly frequently.  The fact that both platforms remain is great, and the station buildings, although not being used for their original purpose, are still in situ.  For the enthusiast, although sight lines are good, the absence of freight means that traffic is very light indeed.

My 2021 Vlog from the station can be viewed below.

Top Ten Least Used Railway Stations in Suffolk | 7 – Derby Road (Ipswich)

Derby Road was opened in 1877 by the Felixstowe railway, and was amalgamated into the Great Eastern Railway in 1879.  It only had one platform originally, but due to popularity gained a second one in 1891

This popularity was due to the Ipswich tramway terminating at this point.  Passengers going to Felixstowe for the day would get the tram from Ipswich and get the train from Derby Road.  In fact, during the summer many trains would terminate at Derby Road from Felixstowe, instead of going though to Ipswich

The trams continued until 1926 when they were replaced by trolleybuses, but these too were fully phased out by 1962.  Some of these can still be seen at the Ipswich transport museum, a link to which is at the end of this blog.

Getting back to the station, it also had two sidings, which were increased during the early 20th century, but like most in the country were phased out by the late 1960’s

The station building still stands, although not used today.  Originally it had a fine canopy and a similar structure was to be seen on the other platform.  This other building no longer survives, as well as the canopy on the main building.  The other notable absentee is the signal box which was on the Felixstowe side of the station.

However, this does not mean the station has been left unkept.  In fact in late 2020, work was started to create a wildflower garden on the entrance to platform one.  Supported by the East Suffolk Community Rail Partnership, Greater Anglia Railway, Ipswich Friends of the Earth and Ipswich Council, it really adds colour to the station and makes it feel very well looked after.

An additional poppy patch is situated on the Felixstowe end of platform two.

Many of the freight headed towards Felixstowe will stop here, as the line after the station becomes single line running for a few miles. These are at time of writing mostly hauled by class 66 locomotives, and passenger traffic is provided by class 755 Bi-Mode units.

The entry and exit figures for 2019 / 2020 were 46, 808.

In conclusion, Derby road was once an important interchange for the passengers from Ipswich to the coastal town of Felixstowe.  However after the 1960’s, most passenger traffic would be confined to the local area.  The expansion of Felixstowe port has brought many more freight trains through the station, these quite often stop in the loop.  Great views can be had of both freight and passenger traffic, especially through the curves towards Ipswich.  The station benefits from the new wildflower garden, and generally speaking is a good place for the intermodal freight enthusiast.

My Vlog, taken in 2021, can be seen below

The Ipswich Transport Museum can be found here:

https://www.ipswichtransportmuseum.co.uk/index.html

Top Ten Least Used Railway Stations in Suffolk | 8 – Wickham Market

The station was opened in 1859 by the East Suffolk railway, although this would be almost immediately amalgamated into the eastern counties railway the same year.  Eventually like all along the line it would become part of the Great Eastern railway in 1862.

A branch line to Framlingham carried freight and passengers from Wickham Market station, up until 1952 when it was closed to passenger traffic, and the line was fully closed in 1965. However the branch line platform can still be seen at the far end of the current platform towards Ipswich.

The station was quite popular right up until the late 1950’s, it even boasted a WH Smith bookstore.  A level crossing went over the tracks at the north end of the platform, but was replaced by road bridge in 1902, and the current bridge was erected in 2005.

The most important thing about the station however is that it not actually in Wickham Market, but in a small village called Campsea Ashe.  The reason for this placement was all due to the river Deben, which had a tendency to flood around the village.  Also the village was also on a gradient, so the decision was made to build it on this current site.

It does however take around 45 minutes to walk to Wickham Market from here. As there are no direct paths over the river.  A taxi will take 10 minutes.

The station building has had a chequered history.  Designed by Francis Thompson, it is very striking and quite large for a station of this size.

It had largely laid dormant since 2005, but in 2013 a charitable community benefits society was set up to regenerate the building.  Called “Station House Community Connection LTD” its aim was to refurbish the station and bring it back to life as a community hub.

After a lot of fundraising efforts and a lot of dedication, the fully refurbished building re-opened in 2017.  It shows off not only the buildings history, but combining it with a community function.  The very impressive canopy on the platform was re-instated, with a complete recasting of the colonnades, based on the original 1880 design.  This was carried out by Hargreaves foundry in Halifax.

Benches on the platform still contain the Great Eastern Railway insignia, and are also lovingly restored.  On the walls can be seen two plaques commemorating the regeneration of this fine building.

Entering the building you will see an electronic information board, as well as interactive screens telling you about the history of the station.  A small lending library is near the doors, and disabled lift is also here to get you up to the second floor meeting areas.

To the rear is a fantastic café, with both indoor and outdoor seating.  A good variety of drinks, cakes and sandwiches are on offer, and it is a very pleasant place to spend a while whist waiting for your train.

On the walls are pictures about the stations history, with a few dedicated to the refurbishment.  Various rooms are available for hire and the whole project is a testament to all involved.  It just goes to show what can be achieved if everyone pulls together.

The station building does not have a booking desk though, so buying a ticket must be done via the electronic machine on the platform.  Other facilities include information boards, timetables and a small bike rack on the platform.

At time of writing, one hourly passenger services (in each direction) are provided by Class 755 Bi-Mode units.

I really enjoyed this station, the staff were very helpful in telling me the history of the station, and the care and attention to detail is to be commended.  A good place to visit for a drink and snack and a must to see the platform with the excellent restored details in place.

A link to a Vlog I filmed in 2020 is here :

A link is here to the station building :

Station House Campsea Ashe for Community and Business

And also to a video showing the colonnades casting :

Casting the colonnades (stationhousecampseaashe.co.uk)