Station Name: RAYDON WOOD

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 2.9.1847
Location: East side of Woodlands Road
Company on opening: Eastern Union Railway
Date closed to passengers: 29.2.1932
Date closed completely: 6.4.1964
Company on closing: London & North Eastern Railway
Present state: Station building partially restored and currently empty. Part of the degraded platform in front of the building survives.
County: Suffolk
OS Grid Ref: TM060404
Date of visit: 24.10.2018

Notes: Raydon Wood station was originally named Raydon and was located two miles north-east of Raydon village. The name was changed to Raydon Wood on 1 October 1895 to avoid confusion with Roydon station on the Liverpool Street - Cambridge main line. The new name was taken from a neighbouring area of woodland called Raydon Great Wood.
The station had a 200ft long single platform on the Down side of the line. For a station of relatively little importance Raydon Wood possessed a surprisingly dignified, classically-influenced two-storey building. It bore a family resemblance to the more elaborate building at the neighbouring Capel station. The building at Raydon Wood was constructed of red brick with buff quoins and string courses beneath a hipped slate roof with a deep cornice. Despite its elegance the building looked a little 'top heavy' owing to the equally tall windows on the ground and first floors. The building was of a 'T' plan. On the platform elevation (north-east) the north-west end was significantly stepped forward. The ground-floor windows were given arches but other openings were rectangular. A single-storey range at the south-east end probably contained a toilet and a lamp room or coal house. The south-west elevation possessed ground-floor windows under shallow segmental arches; the same feature was found above the doorway in the slightly projecting north-west end of the building. The main doorway was beneath a semicircular arch. The doors were approached by short staircases. First-floor openings were rectangular. Unlike Capel there was no canopy over the platform for weather protection for waiting passengers.

The south-east elevation had no windows and a centrally-placed, robust but unremarkable chimneystack with its flues extending from the ground. The north-west elevation facing the level crossing was given two semicircular-arched ground floor windows but none on the first floor. The highlight of this elevation was the pair of tall chimneystacks, the flues springing from the string-course between the two storeys and concealed by pilasters. The twin chimneystacks were coupled by a semicircular arch.

A basement ran the length of the building with ground level arched windows at the north-west end and external stairs on the south-west elevation.

The building comprised an integral booking hall and office, also included a waiting room, staff room and toilets. The upper floor was the living quarters for the station master and his family. Because of wet rot from inadequate drainage, the building received structural alterations in 1857 to resolve the problem. In the 1890s George March was station master at Raydon Wood. He was replaced by George Fogden in 1896, who in turn was replaced by Henry Avery in 1904 and Sydney Orman in 1909. In 1912 Both Raydon Wood and Capel came under the control of one station master, Charles Watson, as an economy measure until the job ceased to exist in October 1921. From that date the Bentley station master PJG Cooke took on responsibility for the two intermediate stations. After that date the tenancy of the station house was taken by foreman-in-charge Harry Gray.

The small goods yard was at the east end of the platform on the down side and, like Capel, the station was provided with a 350ft loop siding, There was a short dead-end siding at the west end of the loop running up to the back of the platform; this served the coal ground of merchant William Bell on the south side. A further set of points was provided west of the original down direction loop points after 1888 to create a much shorter loop. The original loop was only used when the up goods had coal wagons to leave or empty wagons to collect. The LNER considered this extra connection was unnecessary and the points were removed in the early 1930s leaving the shorter loop and two dead end sidings, one at either end of the loop. At one time the loop siding was provided with a goods shed of 50ft X 30ft on the south side at the west end of the loop. This was demolished shortly after WW1.

The level crossing gates and the goods yard were controlled by a signal box with a 20-lever Dutton frame opposite the station building; this was provided after 1888. The box was abolished in April 1923; after that date the points were operated from a ground frame with levers released and locked by Annett’s key attached to the train staff. Working gate distant signals were retained and operated from the ground frame by the foreman-in- charge and interlocked with the gate lock lever. In later years the gate distant signals were fixed at caution, and gates operated by trainmen.

During WW2 the goods yards at both Capel and Raydon Wood became exceptionally busy. The Americans started to arrive at Raydon Wood station after their long journey. They were the engineers of the 833rd and 862nd battalions, who were soon at work constructing a new fighter airfield between Raydon and Great Wenham. The East Anglian railway network was also working to full capacity, with large loads of building materials being brought via the Hadleigh branch. The runway was built with hardcore brought from bombed buildings in London, this arriving at Raydon by rail. Work went on through 1942 and into 1943 until the airfield was declared fit for operation. A spur was built into Raydon Wood on the northern perimeter of airfield. When it was being built Woodlands Road (the road that goes over level crossing at Raydon Wood station) was truncated at the airfield boundary.

Raydon Wood was downgraded to an unstaffed public siding on 6 April 1964 and all traffic ceased a year later on 19 April 1965.

After closure to all traffic the goods yard was occupied by coal merchant Cawoods Solid Fuels Ltd and later Cawoods Coal. At one time they used the station building as an office. By the early 2000s another coal merchant, CPL Distribution, had taken over the site. They are a national solid fuel distribution company with Raydon Wood being their Essex (although it's in Suffolk) depot. In 2011 the station building was surrounded by scaffolding with restoration underway. This included adding a second floor to the single storey east end of the building. The scaffolding was removed before the work was completed and nothing has happened since. The station building is now securely fenced off from the CPL site.

The Hadleigh Railway Walk is a 2 mile footpath and cycleway along the track bed of the Hadleigh branch from Raydon Wood station to Hadleigh station.

Route map drawn by Alan Young. Ticket from Michael Stewart. Bradshaw from Nick Catford

To see the other stations on the Hadleigh branch click on the station name: Bentley, Bentley Church, Capel & Hadleigh

Click here for a brief history of the Hadleigh branch
Click here for a tour of the Hadleigh branch in 2020

Raydon Wood Gallery 1: August 1924 - 20 April 1962

A rare picture of Raydon Wood station looking south-east in August 1924 before closure to passengers. A glimpse of the signal box is seen on the far side of the barrow crossing in the foreground. The box was abolished in April the previous year. There appear to be no signals, no point rodding and no single wire runs visible which confirms the box was out of use. In later years, photographs show, a ground frame was present to lock/unlock the level crossing gates. This frame is not present in this photo which might suggest the box was retained for a time, reduced to ground frame status, for the crossing. The ground frame had gone by the time the line finally closed.
Photo by Elsie A Cole

1888 1:2,500 OS map. This map shows the original layout of Raydon station (note the original name). The goods yard at this time comprised the loop siding with one dead end siding running west from the loop. The goods shed is sited at the west end of the loop. At this time the signal box hadn't been provided. The crossing keeper’s cottage is seen alongside the crossing on the up side.
Click here for a larger version.

1904 1:2,500 OS map. The station has now been renamed Raydon Wood. A signal box has now been provided opposite the station building on the up side. A second set of points has been added making the original loop shorter so there are now two connections from the up direction. The farm in Woodlands Road, alongside the level crossing is now named Station Farm. Click here for a larger version.

1926 1:2,500 OS map. The signal box is still shown although it had been abolished by this time. The goods shed was closed after WW1 and quickly demolished. The points at east end of the original loop has been removed creating a new dead end siding. The loop is now shorter than originally built.
Click here for a larger version.

This undated photo of Raydon Wood station is probably taken around the time of closure in 1932. Later photos from the 50s show all the posters and notice boards have gone. Unfortunately none can be identified. The enamel sign above the door facing along the platform is of interest as it seems to be indicating some sort of facility inside the building; maybe a public telephone and possibly National Telephone Company. One of the doors in the single storey block has a name on it. This may say Gentlemen, the other door might be a lamp room.
Photo from James Lake collection

Raydon Wood station looking north towards Bentley station. This is an undated picture but as the signal box has gone it is certainly post-1923. The bushes at far right seem well established. When the signal box was still in use, those bushes would have obstructed the signalman's view along the line to the points into the goods yard and its controlling signals. The photo was probably taken after closure to passengers and perhaps 1937/8. The presence of the running-in board (which is GER) and the platform barrow can be ignored as at that time these items often remained for years after closure. The barrow was perhaps still used for parcels and sundries. The crossing keeper’s cottage is seen. This had front similar to the octagonal cottage and Church Road, Bentley with a larger section to the rear.
Photo from John Mann collection

Raydon Wood station looking south-east towards Bentley in September 1953. The ground frame that controlled the gates is seen to the left of the barrow crossing. The rodding from ground frame to level crossing is clear, as is the disconnected signal wire run. Where that coal bunker is on the left appears to be the footings of the former signal box which was abolished in 1923. There is another ground frame in the distance, controlling the points to the goods yard which are seen beyond the platform.
Copyright photo from Stations UK

Raydon Wood station and Woodlands Road level crossing looking south-east towards Bentley in September 1954. The gate on the right gives access to the station forecourt and on to the goods yard. The view appears to be taken from the cab of an approaching train. Raydon Wood's foreman-in- charge is about to open the gates. The crossing keeper's cottage is seen on the left.
Photo from John Mann collection

Class J15 0-6-0 No.65459 stands at Raydon Wood with the enthusiasts’ brake van special of 9 June 1956 on its return journey from Hadleigh. Details of this train are somewhat mysterious. It was organised by either The Railway Club (long since defunct) or the Railway Enthusiasts Club, beginning and ending at Liverpool Street. The route was Liverpool Street to Hadleigh via Audley End - Saffron Walden - Bartlow - Colchester - Ipswich & Bentley. Tickets were printed 'Day Excursion' along with the route as described, return being direct from Bentley to Liverpool Street. The inclusion of "Ipswich & Bentley" is revealing; it tells us the passengers would pass through Bentley on their way to Ipswich before returning to Bentley for the Hadleigh branch, therefore Ipswich is where they boarded the brake vans behind the J15. The circuitous journey from Liverpool Street to Ipswich would not, given the small number of passengers involved, have warranted a special passenger train so it is highly likely this leg was undertaken by timetabled trains, as was the return to London from Bentley. Indeed, at least one person recalls this as being the case. Another obscure detail is the route taken between Haverhill and Chappel, which could have been via Halstead or Sudbury. No.65459 is carrying express passenger headcode lamps which, incidentally, were also applied for certain other types of work, yet she carried none on her tender brackets during the outward journey to Hadleigh. She carries a recently painted Ipswich (32B) shedplate and her general appearance suggests she was given a sprucing-up for this job. Being one of several J15s to be fitted with the Westinghouse brake in addition to the vacuum brake, her Westinghouse pump can be seen just ahead of the cab. New in 1906 as GER No.561, she was moved to Stratford shed in December 1959 and withdrawn two months later.
Photo b y RC Riley

The Hadleigh branch add-on, organised by Mr. G. Lockie, to a Ramblers’ Excursion of 20 April 1962 has arrived at Raydon Wood behind D5544 on its way to Hadleigh. On the return journey the train stopped at Raydon Wood to pick up a group of ramblers who had begun their ramble elsewhere. Tickets were specially printed for this group, thus this was likely to have been the final time a train called at Raydon Wood to collect waiting passengers holding tickets valid from this station. Some three decades after withdrawal of regular passenger services, it is perhaps surprising to see an intact oil lamp on the platform. To the right of the lamp and against the wall of the building is what appears to be pen holding gravel. In this view can be seen the three chimney stacks on the station building. At some point in the late twentieth century the central stack was removed, only to be reinstated sometime around 2013.
Photo by David Pearson

Another view of the railtour of 20 April 1962 at Raydon Wood. This is one of very few known photographs of this end of the station taken when the Hadleigh branch was still in use, most being taken from the level crossing. The goods yard was behind the camera and on the left is the rarely seen trap siding protecting the running line. Point rodding can be seen on the right. The railtour train comprised three open wagons, kitted-out with benches borrowed from Bentley station, and six brake vans. The latter comprised a mix of types but the three before the camera in this view were to an LNER 20 ton design which BR went on to adopt as standard. Ostensibly identical, there were, however, a number subtle differences and most notably in the design of the lower bodyside handrails. On railtours which made use of brake vans it was usual for that at the rear to be for the sole occupancy of the guard. Looking at the brake van nearest the camera, it will be noted there are lamp brackets high up on the corner pillars. On unfitted trains (i.e. those not fitted with the continuous brake throughout) both upper brackets would carry a tail lamp showing a red light to the rear and a white light forwards, the purpose being to inform the locomotive crew that the train had not split due to, for example, a broken coupling. Despite this the brake van seen here carrying a vacuum pipe, it is carrying a single tail lamp mounted on the central bracket and this tells us the train was fitted throughout, meaning all vehicles were fitted with the vacuum brake controlled by the driver via the proportional valve in the locomotive cab. Insofar as the National Network is concerned, brake vans are today all but a thing of the past and have died out partly due to the demise of wagon-load traffic and partly due to the adoption of the automatic air brake as standard.
Photo by David Pearson

Click here for Raydon Wood station Gallery 2:
April 1965 - November 1974




[Source: Nick Catford]

Last updated: Monday, 01-Jun-2020 19:19:26 CEST
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