The Colne Valley and Halstead Railway (Lightmoor)

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The Colne Valley & Halstead Railway, incorporated in 1856 and opened in stages between 1860 and 1863 and ran for a distance of 19 miles wholly within the county of Essex.

In 1865 a connection was made to Haverhill GER station on the same cross-country route in neighbouring Suffolk. For the majority of its 57 years of independence the CV&HR was in financial difficulties, with services being operated by agents including in 1865 Sir Daniel Gooch of the Great Western Railway.

A motley collection of rolling stock was hired and a Cornish entrepreneur provided backing for the organisation, but by 1874 the railway went into receivership and it took an Act of 1885 to rectify matters. Several attempts were made to entice the GER to take over the line but these were rebuffed as investigation proved the infrastructure and maintenance left much to be desired.

The first decades of the 20th century, under the stewardship of Elyot S. Hawkins from the Cambrian Railways, brought vast improvements – but grouping under the L&NER from July 1923 could not have come sooner for the company was experiencing insoluble problems.

Having become just another branch line, the route played an important part in World War Two with military traffic for local airfields. British Railways management, whilst introducing modem rolling stock, decided the line duplicated other routes and passenger services were withdrawn on 1st January 1962 and freight finally from April 1965.

Chapter List:

  • Advent of the Railway
  • Opening to Traffic
  • Completion to Haverhill
  • Halcyon Years
  • World War One and After
  • Grouping under the L&NER
  • Nationalisation and Closure
  • The Route Described
  • Permanent Way and Signalling
  • Officers and Railway Staff
  • Timetables and Traffic
  • Locomotives
  • Coaching Stock
  • Wagons

This book provides a comprehensive history of the line and is well-illustrated throughout with archive black & white photographs and maps. Hardback. 312 pages.

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