Colchester in the Age of Steam

Presenter: David Goodyear

Hybrid Meeting both Physically at Shenfield Parish Hall and via Zoom

Colchester has a very interesting history with numerous lines converging on a major rail junction based around what is now the main Colchester Station. David had clearly researched this history and gave a fascinating presentation from the earliest years of the railway in Colchester up to the end of steam in 1962.

Whilst many of the lines still exist operating with Greater Anglia units, some important routes such as those to Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds via the Colne Valley and Stour Valley lines have long since closed. It was perhaps these lines that provided the greatest variety of locos and traffic on Summer Saturdays with numerous ‘Butlins’ specials to Clacton arriving from all over the Midlands and the North. The branch line to Brightlingsea was covered as was the Hythe Tramway which was operated by an eclectic range of motive power from Hythe station to Hythe Quay and Colchester gas works.

For most of its history the Great Eastern received hand-me-down locos from more prestigious routes, a practice that continued into BR days. 1959 saw the start of electric services on the lines to Clacton and Walton. Diesel traction commenced on the London – Norwich line in the late 1950’s in the hands of Class 31 and Class 40s, with DMUs taking over some branch line services. The opening of the ‘missing link’ electrified section to Chelmsford in 1962 was the final nail in the coffin for steam in the Colchester area.

An excellent presentation enjoyed by both those present in Shenfield and also by the 15 attending via Zoom – a record for our Hybrid meetings thus far.