Station Name: WELNETHAM


[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 9.8.1865
Location: At the end of Station Hill
Company on opening: Great Eastern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 10.4.1961
Date closed completely: 13.7.1964
Company on closing: British Railways (Eastern Region)
Present state: The station survives as a private residence although the track bed has been filled in up to the level of the platform.
County: Suffolk
OS Grid Ref: TL897591
Date of visit: March 1976

Notes: The station was bought in 1981 and was converted into a private residence. It was further refurbished in 1993.

On 1846 an Act of Parliament authorised the Colchester, Stour Valley, Sudbury & Halstead Railway to build a line between Marks Tey and Sudbury. In June 1847 further Acts were obtained allowing the railway company to extend from Sudbury to Clare with a branch from Melford (Long Melford from 1884) to Bury St. Edmunds. The company was leased to the Ipswich & Bury St. Edmunds Railway which was in turn absorbed by the Eastern Union Railway the following month.

The line from Marks Tey to Sudbury opened on July 2nd 1849 but the extension to Bury St. Edmunds was not built. On January 1st 1854, the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR) took over the Eastern Union Railway. Another company now emerged; the Sudbury & Clare Railway which planned to make up for the failure of the Stour Valley company to reach Bury St. Edmunds as approved in the original 1846 Act. By an Act of July 1860, the Sudbury & Clare Company was empowered to build a lone from Sudbury to Clare via Melford. However, as soon as the powers were obtained, the ECR took over and immediately sought extended powers to build from Sudbury (via Melford) to Shelford on the London-Cambridge main line, as well as the branch from Melford to Bury St. Edmunds.

On August 6th 1861, the ECR received approval to go ahead. However, further changes were imminent and in August 1862 an amalgamation of companies including the ECR came about and the Great Eastern Railway (GER) came into being.

The Act also renewed the authorisation for the proposed ECR lines to proceed and the Melford to Bury St. Edmunds line opened on August 9th 1865 with intermediate stations at Bury Eastgate, Welnetham, Cockfield and Lavenham. The line was single throughout except for passing loops following the Upper Lark Valley to its first station.

Lavenham was a small textile town but the industry was already in decline when the railway opened. During the period prior to the First World War, the line saw some of its best traffic. The war brought little reduction in traffic but by the 1920s the familiar pattern of road competition was setting in although rail traffic continued quite healthily for some years; some economies were made. After WW1 the economic decline of the area deepened as did the population in many towns and villages in the area together with traffic on the line. At its peak, there were 5 or 6 trains a day between Bury and Long Melford with 2 or 3 of these continuing to Marks Tey or Colchester but this was reduced in later years.

Apart from local traffic, the line provided no real alternative to the Bury - Colchester service via Ipswich and elderly rolling stock finished its life on the line which didn't help with competition from road traffic.

When the Second World War came, the situation changed dramatically; passenger services were reduced although freight services remained active. Changes came when British Railways announced a modernisation programme; from January 1st 1959, steam was scrapped and replaced by Diesel Multiple Units.

Although passenger traffic showed some improvement, it was not enough to overcome the increasing losses being incurred. Passenger traffic between Long Melford and Bury St. Edmunds had become very light and the line closed to passengers on April 10th 1961 with freight traffic surviving between Bury and Lavenham until 19.4.1965.

To see the other stations on the Bury St. Edmunds - Long Melford branch line click on the station name: Bury St. Edmunds Eastgate, Cockfield & Lavenham

See also: Stour Valley Railway
Colne Valley Railway
Saffron Walden Branch Line


Welnetham Station in March 1976
hoto by Nick Catford

Welnetham Station in April 2006
hoto by Roy Williams

Welnetham Station in April 2005
Photo by Roy Williams

Click on thumbnail to enlarge




:[Source: Nick Catford]

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