What might have been 

Maldon East

Maldon is an Essex market town on the river Blackwater. In the 19th century it was a centre for agriculture and had some commercial importance. Local industry was served by small scale port facilities on the river Blackwater and the Blackwater-Chelmer canal linked to the county town of Chelmsford. There was also a pretty appalling road network.

A scheme was launched to build a railway linking Braintree “the granary of Essex” with the port of Maldon. The Eastern Counties Railway keen to ensure there was no competition to its own interests took over the scheme and the line was built but as two separate branch lines which joined the main line at Witham. Work started in March 1847.

 There was an election in 1847 and Mr David Waddington who was the Vice Chairman of the Eastern Counties Railway fancied his chances of becoming MP for Maldon. He set about making sure the local electorate appreciated his virtues. The station building at Maldon was far grander than a branch line terminus would usually warrant. A great many local people were employed in the construction of the railway, an enquiry held after the election found that some of the people hired were not actually fit to carry out the work they were paid for. I can report that Mr Waddington was duly elected as MP

The branch did well, traffic levels were good. On the first day of operation it is reported that 200 tons of peas were shipped.



 Maldon's grand station Building




                        Ex GER J15 with train preparing for departure from Maldon


In 1862 The Great Eastern Railway (GER) absorbed the Eastern Counties Railway. The GER continued to expand its grip on East Anglia, in 1888 the GER opened a line from Shenfield on the GER main line to Wickford. The following year it completed the line through to Southend on Sea, it also opened two new branches the first was the Crouch valley line which ran from Wickford to Burnham and Southminster and the second ran from South Woodham Ferris on the Crouch valley line to Maldon. A second station was built in Maldon which was named Maldon West and the original station became Maldon East, the new branch also terminated at Maldon East.





The Maldon Branches

After the first world war the government decided to rationalise Britain’s fragmented railway industry and in 1923 grouped them into four new companies, thus the GER became a constituent part of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER).

In the inter war years passenger reciepts on the South Woodam Ferrers line never realised the LNER's expectations. With the advent of the second world war passenger services on the Maldon to South Woodham Ferris branch were withdrawn as an economy measure. These were never subsequently reinstated. Both branches saw considerable freight traffic during the war. This took its toll on the infrastructure which had received minimal maintenance during the war years.

After the war in 1948 the railways were nationalised, but in a cash strapped Britain there was very little money to invest in the railways, as a result it was decided not to spend the money that would be required bring the Maldon to South Woodham Ferris branch up to the required standard and it was closed in 1953. The line remained in use as far as Maldon West and the goods yard continued to operate.




As BR's modernisation plan took effect the main line through Witham was electrified and in persuit of the twin goals of cost savings and efficiency steam was eliminated from the branch. Passenger workings were handed over to W&M railbus units in 1958 these were supplemented by various 2 car DMU's during periods of heavier traffic. Despite attempts to keep the line viable the final axe for the remaining branch came in 1964 when Dr Beeching swept it away along with so many others. Freight continued for a further four years before the line was lifted