Local railways in the past

There has never been a railway passing through Goldhanger, although it came very close to happening in the late 1800s. There were two separate proposals for a railway from Langford to Tollesbury, the first in the 1882 that would have passed through Millbeach and Goldhanger, and second in the 1890 that would have passed through Tolleshunt Major/Beckingham. Langford was on the Maldon to Witham line, which was opened in 1848. This is what the routes would have looked like...

The Kelvedon to Tollesbury Light Railway, which became known locally as the “Crab & Winkle line”, was finally opened in October 1904, going through Tiptree to join the main line at Kelvedon. For over fifty years Goldhanger was situated between these two lines - 4 miles to Maldon and Langford, and 3 miles to Tolleshunt D’arcy. The local archives contain an original 1919 Great Eastern Railway “diagrammatic map” of all of East Anglia that measures 5 x 3ft. The container indicates it was posted to Maura Benham in the early 1970s. Here are small sections that show the title block and the local lines. Select one of the maps to zoom in on a high definition version of the local lines...

Both lines were single tracked, with the stations having two tracks and sidings for goods wagons. The Kelvedon Tollesbury Light Railway was of a standard gauge but was called “light” as it was built for light-weight engines and carriages only and had low platforms. It had no signalling system as it only ever had single engine and driver on it at any one time. 

It is easier to follow the routes on a modern schematic diagram...

The Crab & Winkle line was closed to passengers by British Railways in 1951 and the Maldon branch lines were closed as part of the “Beeching Axe” in 1964. Many Goldhanger residents used these lines in the years they were in operation. Our records show these Goldhanger connections with the railways:

-  Author Henry Coe Coape, who lived at Vaulty Manor in the mid 1800s, was a director of many railway companies.

-  The bellringers and choir made day trips to other churches in the region, starting with a wagon ride to D’arcy.

-  Ernest Mansfield and his associates started their trips to Spitsbergen by train in the early 1900s.

-  Goldhanger GP Dr Henry Salter, who lived in D’arcy was frequently travelled to London by train.

-  Old Rectory fruit grower Charles Page transported his apples to the Maldon stations in Model-T Ford trucks.

-  Cyril Sothgate recalled moving to Goldhanger from Suffolk via the Crab & Winkle line in the early 1930s.

- The arrival of the rail line to Maldon also had an indirect but significant effect on Goldhanger village life. Cyril Sothgate also recalled that in his youth the prosperity and expansion of several manufacturing companies in Heybridge and Maldon, such as Bentalls, Sadds and Maldon Iron Works, created many new job opportunities for Goldhanger residents, offering higher wages and better working conditions for farm workers and fishermen, so there was a daily mass exodus from the village on bicycles heading to Maldon.

-  Jack Cohen’s Goldhanger Fruit Farms transported their canned products to Maldon East goods yard in the 1950s.

-  Crawshay Frost made many trips to London by train between the 1920s and 1960s.

- There have been several disused railway carriages in and around the village used as accommodation.

Here are two pictorial journeys along the lines - based mainly on postcards from the period...

The Maldon Branch Lines

     Includes thirty historic photos

Kelvedon to Tollesbury Light Railway

includes thirty two historic photos

  Early timetables are available for both lines that give information about the frequency of services and other information...

timetable for 1869

 

timetable for 1905 

In 1869 the Maldon to Witham line had 5 trains a day in each direction and 2 on Sundays. Landford was a "request stop". By 1902 there were 10 trains, with about one per hour.

On Sundays there were just four trains in each direction.

Between the 1930s and 1950s in the summers months there were occasional through-trains to and from London.

German built "rail buses" were introduced in 1958.

When the Tollesbury line first opened in 1904 there were 4 trains a day in each direction on week days, with no trains on Sundays. The fare from Tollesbury to Kelvedon was 9d on way (£4.50 in todays money).

In 1917 there were 5 trains a day, one every two hours. the first train of the day was for goods only, calling at all the goods sidings on the line. Horses and carriages could only be conveyed from Tollesbury to Kelvedon.

By 1950 just before the line closed they were down to 3 trains in each direction a day.

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