SEERS - LOCAL RAILWAYS

A BRIEF RAILWAY HISTORY OF SOUTH EAST ESSEX

The London Tilbury and Southend Railway (LTS)

The London Tilbury and Southend Railway was promoted jointly by the London and Blackwall Railway and the Eastern Counties Railway in 1852. The line reached Leigh on Sea in 1855 and the section to Southend was opened on 1 March 1856. The line was leased to Messrs Peto Brassey and Betts, the contractors who built the line and who began to develop the Cliff Town Estate in 1859. The company took back the line in 1875 but continued to rely on the Great Eastern (successor to the Eastern Counties) for coaches until 1877 and locomotives until 1880. The extension to Shoeburyness opened in 1884 (after the opposition of the War Office had been overcome) and the direct line via Upminster in 1888; branches followed from Upminster to Grays in 1892 and to Romford in 1893. New Stations were opened at Westcliff on Sea (1895) and Thorpe Bay (1910).

The LTS was acquired by the Midland Railway in 1912 and as part of the "Grouping" of the railways in 1923 became part of the London Midland and Scottish Railway. The LMS provided new stations at Chalkwell (1933) and Southend East (1932) and resited Leigh on Sea (1934). On Nationalisation in 1948, the LTS was therefore part of the London Midland Region of British Railways but was transferred to the Eastern Region in 1949. Electrification, which was originally a condition of the Midland's takeover, was authorised in the 1950's and the first electric trains ran in November 1961, with full electric service commencing in 1962. The final peak hour steam workings took place on 15th June 1962.
At Privatisation, the LTS franchise was initially allotted to Prism but passed to National Express who created the c2c brand before exiting the rail industry and selling c2c to Trenitalia.

The Great Eastern Railway (GER)

The Great Eastern Railway was formed in 1862 from a merger of the Eastern Counties Railway, The Eastern Union Railway, The Northern and Eastern Railway and some other lines. In the 1880's the GER began an expansion in Essex by creating the "New Essex Lines"; the Southend and Southminster lines opened in 1889.

Under the 1923 Grouping, the GER became part of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) which began planning for electrification of suburban lines in the 1930's. This work was delayed by WW2 but had reached Shenfield by 1949; extension to Southend (Victoria) as the GE station was now known, was completed by 31 December 1956.

On nationalization in 1948, the Great Eastern system became part of the Eastern Region of British Railways.

On privatisation in 1997, the lines from Liverpool Street were divided across 3 franchises.

The InterCity route to Ipswich and Norwich and branches to Anglia Railways owned by GB Railways which was later taken over by First Group.
The Chingford Enfield and Hertford East lines went initially to Prism Rail, later taken over by National Express.
The routes to Southend Victoria, Chelmsford, Colchester, Clacton and branches to First Group as First Great Eastern.

From March 2004 all these routes were refranchised to National Express, initially using the "ONE" brand ( Operated by National Express) and then from February 2008 as National Express East Anglia.

On 5 February 2012 these lines were refranchised to Abellio Greater Anglia ( owned by Nederlandsche Spoorwegen, the Dutch State Railway).
In May 2015, the "Metro" routes from Liverpool St ( Shenfield, Chingford, Enfield and Herford East plus the former LTS branch Romford to Upminster) were transferred to Transport for London, the Shenfield route to form part of Crossrail's Elizabeth Line.
In March 2017, Abellio sold a 40% share in Greater Anglia to the Japanese company Mitsui.

Southend Airport Station finally opened in 2011, having been first proposed in 1936!

Southend Pier Railway

The first wooden Southend Pier was started in 1830 and extended until by 1846 it was a mile and a quarter long. That year a horse tramway opened. A new iron pier opened in 1889 complete with 3'6" gauge electric tramway. Over the years the line was doubled and in 1949 completely new trains built by AC Cars were introduced rather like a miniature Tube train. Due to safety concerns after a major fire in 1976, the Pier Railway closed in 1978. However, funding was obtained to repair the Pier and renew the railway, although only single track and diesel powered. Designs have been finalised for replacement electric trains due to enter service in 2021.

Southend Tramways

The Southend tramway system was authorised as a Light Railway under the 1896 Act in 1899 and the first section opened in July 1901. Various extensions took place most notably to Thorpe Bay via the seafront and the Boulevard. The Boulevard route closed in 1938 due to poor track conditions and the Corporation's desire to convert to trolleybus and motorbus operation. There were further closures until the final Leigh-Southend-Kursaal route was closed in 1942.

Southend Cliff Lift

The Shortest Funicular Railway in the UK, opened in 1912.

Hadleigh Salvation Army Colony

A standard gauge railway was built in 1892 to convey bricks from brickworks near Home Farm and agricultural produce to a wharf on Hadleigh Ray; this crossed the LTS by an overbridge which survived intact until electrification of the LTS although the railway closed in 1914; narrow gauge tramways also served the brickworks.

Ministry of Defence Shoeburyness

The Board of Ordinance first acquired land on the Ness in 1849 (although there may have been weapon testing in Napoleonic times) and a horse drawn tramway was in use by the 1860s.The first steam locos arrived in c1888/9 and the system continued to expand as more land was acquired. Regular rail traffic via the connection from the LTS ceased in 1991 but the site was used for storage of ex BR and LT vehicles, at one time over 400 redundant coaches being stored at Pigs Bay. There were also narrow-gauge lines in connection with the gunnery ranges.

Brickworks Railways

Essex clay is ideal material for brick making and there were many brickworks in the Southend Area using 2-foot gauge railways, notably at Cherry Orchard Lane Rochford (c1890-1984) and Star Lane Great Wakering (1932- 1991) also at Thorpe Bay (1933- 1963) Canewdon and Chalkwell amongst others.

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