The New Essex Lines of the Great Eastern Railway

Presenter: Nathaniel Dodd

Physical Meeting at Shenfield Parish Hall

On 18th September 27 members were entertained by Nathaniel Dodd on the topic of “The New Essex Lines of the GER”. Nathaniel has been interested in railways all his life, becoming a station adopter at Battlesbridge in 2003. He started a railway career with National Express at Southend Victoria and is a volunteer at the Mangapps Railway Museum at Burnham on Crouch, so his enthusiasm of the New Essex Lines came across in his presentation.

The New Essex Lines were a late addition to the railways in Essex when on 16 July 1883, the Great Eastern Railway (GER) received Parliamentary approval for the New Essex Lines that included a new line from Shenfield (on the GER main line) to Southend, which opened on 1 October 1889. A branch from that line at Wickford to Southminster, preceded it opening on 1 June 1889 to goods and a month later to passengers. From a station on that line at Woodham Ferris (now Woodham Ferrers) was a branch to Maldon opened to goods on 19 November 1888 and to passengers on 1 October 1889. It represented the largest railway building project in Essex undertaken by the GER. The 15 stations on these "New Essex" lines were built in the “domestic revival style”, pioneered on the GER by their architect, William Neville Ashbee.

Nathaniel has an extensive knowledge of the history of the lines, not having to resort to notes. The slides showed not only the stations along the lines but also invaluable OS maps of each station which showed in detail how sparse the area was with the main traffic being agricultural. With snippets of local knowledge thrown in it was a complete history of the lines, two of which still survive today as part of the Greater Anglia franchise (the Maldon line closing to passengers in 1939 and completely in 1953).