Station Name: BENTLEY (Suffolk)

[Nick Catford]

Bentley Station Gallery 2: 27 February 1932 - c1972

The bay platform at Bentley sees, presumably, the stationmaster shaking hands with the driver of one the ex-GER 2-4-2T locomotives as the fireman and other members of staff look on. The date is Saturday 27 February 1932 and the occasion the final regular passenger train on the Hadleigh branch. On departing the bay platform, the train will run alongside the Down Main line for a little over half a mile before turning away towards Hadleigh. Having completed the final journey, the train likely arrived back at Bentley's Up platform before continuing to Ipswich as empty stock. Although well into LNER days, the locomotive still carries its GER numberplate. The number is unclear but certainly begins with a '5' and perhaps followed by an '8', telling us the locomotive is a Class F4 (GER Class M15). The various classes of GER 2-4-2T had begun life on suburban services out of Liverpool Street. Although some remained in the London area, or returned there later, many were displaced to East Anglian sheds for use on branch lines, while during WWII a few worked with armoured trains and could be seen from Kent to Scotland. The final F4 bowed out in 1956 while the final rebuilt version, F5, lasted until 1958.
Photo from John Mann collection

Sometime in 1955 an express passenger train coasts down the 1 in 157 gradient through Bentley station. Viewed from the station footbridge, the Class B1 4-6-0 locomotive cannot be positively identified. The building on the right is the somewhat peculiar combined goods shed and station building, the part for passengers being at extreme right. In the left background and despite the Hadleigh branch having lost its passenger service over two decades previously, track and signalling remains in situ for the bay platform. The bay was used occasionally for enthusiasts’ specials and for stabling goods stock. In the case of the latter, one such occurrence was during a period when the Hadleigh goods, on returning to Bentley, left its wagons in the bay while the locomotive and brake van scooted off to Mistley on the Harwich branch, then returned to Bentley before shunting the stock and continuing to Ipswich.
Photo received from M Palmer

Looking north at the level crossing and Bentley station circa late 1950s. The main station building which incorporates the goods shed is on the right, its hipped roof forming a canopy over the platform. A waiting room also with a hipped roof is seen on the left. The signal box is seen at the far end of the down platform.
Photo from James Lake collection

The Lockie ramblers excursion of 20 April 1962 has arrived at Bentley from Liverpool Street. The train was formed of BR Mk 1 and ex-LNER Gresley stock, while the locomotive was an unidentified Brush Type 2. The alighting passengers would have been ramblers; participants of the optional brake van trip to Hadleigh were taken forward to Ipswich Motive Power Depot where D5544 and its train of brake vans and open wagons awaited them. The journey from Ipswich MPD to Hadleigh involved D5544 running round at Bentley, but the return from Hadleigh terminated in Bentley's bay platform, largely out of view to the left, with passengers simply changing trains for the return to Liverpool Street.
Photo from John Mann collection

The add-on railtour to the Lockie ramblers excursion has arrived back at the bay platform from Hadleigh on 20 April 1962. The train comprised a number of various types of brake van and open wagons and had commenced at Ipswich Motive Power Depot. The locomotive is Mirrlees-engined Brush Type 2 D5544; later classified as Class 30.
Photo by David Pearson

For the add-on railtour platform benches were manhandled into open wagons so that people would have somewhere to sit during the short journey to Hadleigh and back. Once the tour arrived back at Bentley station staff hand to carry the three benches back to the Up platform.
Photo by David Pearson

In June 1963 an English Electric Type 33, later Class 37, thunders down the 1 in 157 Belstead Bank through Bentley with a train for Liverpool Street. At this date, expresses on this route were mostly in the hands of these locomotives and a handful of the original batch of English Electric Type 4s which went on to become Class 40. Within a few years the line would come to be dominated by the Brush Type 4, later Class 47. The headcode on the Type 3, 1 - 58, was from the system peculiar to the Great Eastern section and which simply indicated class of train and destination or origin. In this case the '58' informs us the train had commenced its journey at Ipswich. In April 1966 this headcode system was abandoned in favour of the four-character system which is still in use today, albeit no longer displayed on trains. On the left the crossing keeper can be seen and, partly obscured, the lever frame and instruments for the level crossing. The frame was unlocked from the signal box (at the opposite end of the station) but interlocking was not provided until 1899.
Photo by Ben Brooksbank

Looking north from the Station Road level crossing circa mid 1960s, probably before closure to passengers; the station now looks very run down. The goods yard closed in 1964. The goods shed was quickly demolished and the platform canopy removed. Notice boards still remain on the station building. The waiting room on the up side has also gone although the gents' toilet with its flat roof remains. Another gents' toilet, complete with sign, is seen on the opposite platform. The footbridge has also been demolished.
Photo from John Mann collection

In February 1966 a Brush Type 4, later Class 47, thunders towards Bentley station with a northbound express. The headcode system in use here was to be abandoned two months later as described elsewhere. In this case the '51' informs us the train is heading for Norwich. The crossing keeper stands beside his ground frame and with his domestic accommodation behind him. The short chimney at far right probably indicates an outside wash-house containing a coal fired 'copper' for boiling clothes. The Down platform now has a BR Eastern Region blue running-in board and the fact the board on this platform never advised passengers to change for the Hadleigh branch is no longer relevant and had not been so for thirty-four years.
Photo from Jim Lake collection

Bentley station looking south along the former down platform c.1968. It would appear that very soon after the station closed to passengers all the platform edging was removed as fast services continue to use the line. The goods shed was demolished before the station closed. As it formed an integral part of the main station building plastic sheeting has been placed on the end wall of the surviving part of the building to prevent water ingress. It would eventually be creosoted (see 1970s photo).
Photo by J L Smith

Bentley Junction signal box at the north end of the station on the down side c1972. As the Bentley branch used its own track running parallel with the main line the signal box was at the station rather than at the actual junction which was half a mile north of the station. The box was still open at this time.
Photo from John Mann collection

Looking south towards Bentley station c1972 from Bentley Junction signal box. The site of the lifted sidings is clearly seen on the right. There were also sidings on the right one serving the goods shed and the other serving cattle pens, but there is less evidence of these sidings.
Photo from John Mann collection

The cut back remains of the two platforms are visible in this view of Bentley station looking south c1972. The demolished goods shed was between the two small buildings on the left and the surviving station building. The building with the flat roof was probably the gents' toilet which stood at the back of the Up platform.
Photo from John Mann collection

Click here for Bentley Station Gallery 3:
c1972 - c1972




[Source: Nick Catford]

Last updated: Monday, 01-Jun-2020 23:49:06 CEST
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