The Aldeburgh Branch
Author : Peter Paye
ISBN : 9780853617235
Cover : paperback
Price : £19.95
The Aldeburgh Branch, unlike many of the lines inherited or built by the Great Eastern Railway, was not solely reliant on agricultural traffic for the major portion of its receipts. Much of the revenue came from the engineering works established at Leiston by Richard Garrett.
Aldeburgh was establishing itself as a fashionable resort for the gentry; it was thus essential for a railway to serve the town, and the extension from Leiston to Aldeburgh was completed in 1860. Passenger traffic was chiefly local in character, whilst freight increased considerably as Garrett’s works expanded production, augmented by agricultural, fish and coal traffic. As the years progressed so Aldeburgh’s importance as a coastal holiday destination increased and weekend excursion tickets were issued. From 1906 through coaches were worked from London and in the 1930s the ‘Eastern Belle’ Pullman train ran from Liverpool Street to Aldeburgh once a week.
The population of Aldeburgh barely increased in the 1930s/40s and although the upper and middle class clientele continued to enjoy the attractions, passenger numbers were hardly encouraging. The internationally famous Aldeburgh Festival was founded in 1948 by the joint efforts of Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears and Eric Crozier. It was hoped the festival would bring an increase in branch passenger revenue but audiences tended to travel by car. In the meantime branch freight traffic was also on the decline.
With a view to economy, diesel-multiple-units took over passenger working in June 1956 and yet further reductions came in January 1959. Later the same year the freight services were dieselised. The early 1960s offered some hope for the branch when the impending provision of nuclear power stations at Sizewell was announced. Ultimately Sizewell A was commissioned in 1966 (the year the passenger service was withdrawn), and Sizewell B was commissioned in 1995. There was some resulting construction traffic being conveyed by rail and spent nuclear flasks being dispatched away to Sellafield. A truncated section of Aldeburgh Branch between Saxmundham and Sizewell siding remains in use for the sporadic flask traffic to and from Sizewell.
A5 format, 320 pages, 230 photographs, maps, etc.
The Aldeburgh Branch