Railways in Essex

As with the rest of the UK, railway mania swept through Essex in the 1840s and beyond, with new railway lines being added right up until 1913.

Map makers were keen to add these to their maps, so keen that they often added proposed routes before they were finalised or indeed possibly ever built. This means that sometimes you will see lines shown that have smooth flowing lines - suspicious of a proposed line - or lines on maps published well before the lines opened. Sometimes these lines were not in fact built, and of course some lines having opened then closed, and these can also take a time before publishers deleted them from the maps - even the OS was a bit slow at this at times.

The upshot of all this is that the presence (or absence) of a line on a map is not necessarily a good guide to the date of the map. The classic examples of these are the many Moules being sold as being "1837", when they show railway lines built in the 1840s and 1850s, and the maps of J&C Walker that have railway lines added in freehand manuscript to the printed maps as new lines opened and old printed stock was used.

Anyway, thanks to the excellent ERO publication Railways in Essex to 1923 and various railway books here is a list of the railway lines and their opening dates.

Year Events in chronological order
1834 London to Norwich proposal
1836 London to Norwich, and London to Cambridge authorised
1839 Mile End to Romford opened
1840 Mile End to Shoreditch opened
Romford to Brentwood opened
Stratford to Broxbourne opened
1842 Broxbourne to Bishops Stortford opened
1843 Brentwood to Colchester opened
Broxbourne to Hertford opened
1844 - 48 "Railway Mania" - many lines proposed, including lines to Maldon, Witham,
Braintree, Stour Valley, Sudbury & Halstead.
1844 Bishops Stortford to Newport opened
1845 Newport to Cambridge opened
1846 Colchester to Ipswich opened
1846/7 Stratford to North Woolwich opened
1847 Colchester to Hythe opened
Hadleigh branch line opened (in Suffolk)
1848 Witham to Maldon opened
Witham to Braintree opened
Great Chesterford to Newmarket opened
1849 Marks Tey to Sudbury opened
1850 London, Tilbury & Southend proposed
Great Chesterford to Newmarket closed (!), but stays on OS maps for decades,
despite track being removed by 1858.
1852 Shepreth to Royston opened (Cambridgeshire)
1854 Manningtree to Harwich opened
Barking to Tilbury opened, and on to Mucking
1855 Spur line from Mucking to Thameshaven opened
Mucking to Pitsea opened
2nd line to North Woolwich opened after Royal Victoria Dock opened
1856 Pitsea to Southend opened
Stratford to Loughton opened
1858 Barking to Fenchurch Street opened
1860 Chappel to Halstead opened
1861 Halstead to Castle Hedingham opened
1862 Castle Hedingham to Great Yeldham opened
1863 Great Yeldham to Haverhill opened
Hythe to Wivenhoe opened
1865 Loughton to Ongar opened
Audley End to Saffron Walden opened
Shelford via Haverhill to Sudbury opened
Sudbury to Bury St Edmunds opened
1866 Wivenhoe to Brightlingsea opened
Wivenhoe to Thorpe le Soken opened
1867 Thorpe le Soken to Walton-on-the-Naze opened
Saffron Walden to Bartlow opened
Colchester St Botolph's station opened
1869 Bishops Stortford to Braintree opened
1870 Walthamstow branch opened
1872 Walthamstow to Bethnal Green extension opened
Northern Woolwich dock extension to Beckton opened
1873 Walthamstow to Chingford opened
1874-75 Liverpool Street opened
1880 Central Woolwich dock extension opened after Royal Albert Dock opened
1882 Thorpe-le-Soken to Clacton opened
Parkestone Quay station opened
1884 Southend to Shoeburyness opened
1885 Barking to Upminster opened
1886 Tilbury Dock opened
Upminster to Laindon opened
1888 Laindon to Pitsea opened
Shenfield to Wickford opened
1889 Wickford to Southend opened
Wickford to Malden opened
Wickford to Southminster opened
1892 Grays Thurrock to Upminster opened
1893 Upminster to Romford opened
1894 Forest Gate to Tottenham link opened
1901 Corringham light railway opened
1903 Chigwell-Fairlop loop line opened
1904 Kelvedon to Tollesbury light railway opened
1907 Tollesbury to Tollesbury pier opened
1913 Elsenham to Thaxted light railway opened


© Peter Walker 2013 - 2014