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Stenlake Publishing - The Bishop’s Stortford, Dunmow and Braintree Branch

The Bishop’s Stortford, Dunmow and Braintree Branch

Author : Peter Paye
ISBN : 9780853617082
Cover : paperback
Price : £19.95

Peter Paye presents, in much expanded and revised form, the story of the Bishop’s Stortford to Braintree Branch. The line, nearly 18 miles in length, traversed a route across the undulating mid-Essex countryside running mostly at right angles to the river valleys with the result that the line had a veritable switchback of gradients.

The Bishop’s Stortford, Dunmow and Braintree Railway was initially the brainchild of East Hertfordshire businessmen, but their idea was quickly taken over by the Eastern Counties Railway as part of a political gamble to block opposing railway schemes from entering East Anglia. Even after the opposition withdrew, the ECR and later the Great Eastern Railway were undecided as to the future of the railway and legal wranglings with the contractor delayed the opening of the line for three years.

On opening to traffic the railway was absorbed by the Great Eastern and during the halcyon days before the advent of the motor vehicle, business was good and the branch provided an essential service to the local community.

As roads and motor vehicles improved, the parallel main road from Bishop’s Stortford to Braintree quickly attracted passengers away from the railway and trade rapidly declined to the extent that services were withdrawn in March 1952, a decade before the Beeching era.

Freight continued for a further period and then declined rapidly. The condition of the viaduct near Dunmow effectively led to the closure of the central section of the branch and thereafter the remaining sections at each end remained open for short periods before closing. Now all is silent and many fixed assets are gone.

Essex County Council has transformed the route of the railway into the ‘Flitch Way’, with warden centres using the former Takeley and Rayne stations, so that ramblers and equestrians can enjoy the delights of the countryside.

A5 format, 352 pages, 293 photographs, etc.

The Bishop’s Stortford, Dunmow and Braintree Branch