Things have been rather quiet on this blog in January. Yet, behind the scenes there’s been a whole lot of thinking going on.
I have an idea for a new layout. Here’s the inspiration behind the idea.
A Little Bit of Railway History.
Shelford is a small village about 3 miles south of Cambridge and has had a station since 1845. On the 1st of June 1865 a branch line from Shelford to Haverhill was opened. This branched off the London to Cambridge main line just south of the Shelford station, near the small village of Stapleford. It ran through Pampisford, Linton, Bartlow and into Haverhill. Initially, the line ran close to the River Granta along what’s sometimes called the Granta Valley.
On the 9th August 1865 the section of track from Haverhill to Sudbury was opened allowing travelers to go from Shelford to Sudbury and on to Marks Tey and Colchester. The line became known as the Stour Valley Railway.
Initially, many of the stations were well appointed with goods yards of varying sizes and the line did a useful service transporting goods such as coal, corn, beet and livestock.
The line between Shelford and Haverhill fell into decline and was eventually closed to passengers in March 1967 as part of the Beeching cuts (boo hiss to Beeching!).
In Stapleford some local people discussed running a preserved steam railway along the old line from Shelford to Linton, a distance of around 7 miles. Unfortunately, the track was lifted in 1970 and nothing came of the idea.
The Shelford to Haverhill Line Today
Today, the route of the old line through Stapleford, to Pampisford and Linton is quite easy to trace. Some bridges still exist and much of the track ran on raised earth works which are still clearly visible in many places.
At the southern end of the line, the route from Sudbury to Marks Tey is still open, and has been branded ‘The Gainsborough Line’ to commemorate the painter Thomas Gainsborough, who was born in Sudbury.
Here’s Where I Have to Declare an Interest
I moved to Stapleford last year. I live close to the London Liverpool Street to Cambridge line, and opposite the field where the Stour Valley Branch left the main line and started its journey to Pampisford and Haverhill. Along one edge of the field runs the Granta River which meanders from Haverhill, past Linton and on into Cambridge following a similar, but not indentical, route to the old branch line.
…an enterprising group of railway enthusiasts built a narrow gauge line along the old standard gauge track bed…
It’s has happened elsewhere (The Bure Valley Railway, The Wells and Walsingham Railway and the Steeple Grange Light Railway to name only a few examples). Perhaps the idea is not that far-fetched.
I am thinking of building a freelance fantasy… ‘The Granta Valley Railway’… a narrow gauge railway with a terminus in Stapleford, in the field opposite my house, and a line running along the old trackbed to Pampisford and beyond….