Author: Peter Paye
Format: Hardback, 256 pages
The ancient town of Maldon on the River Blackwater in Essex was served by two branch lines which enjoyed vastly differing fortunes. The initial scheme, the Maldon, Witham & Braintree Railway, authorised in 1846 to develop the former harbour and encourage the flow of agricultural traffic and coal, was absorbed by the Eastern Counties Railway who deceitfully promised dividends of 8 to 10 per cent. The line opened to traffic in October 1848 but no effort was made to deepen the Blackwater.
Following the formation of the Great Eastern Railway in 1862, improvements were made to the Maldon branch over the years, leading to an increase in population as industry was encouraged. Then, in 1883, the GER promoted their ‘New Essex Lines’ scheme, constructing railways from Shenfield to Southend with a branch from Wickford to Southminster – from whence another branch ran from Woodham Ferrers to Maldon. This second branch to Maldon opened in October 1889, but through services were limited to one train in each direction on Saturdays and were withdrawn in 1895.
Whilst traffic continued to grow on the Witham to Maldon East branch, the same could not be said of the new line. The London & North Eastern Railway initially persevered, but despite costcutting measures admitted defeat and withdrew the passenger services from Woodham Ferrers soon after the outbreak of World War Two, the line remaining open for freight between Maldon East and Cold Norton until 1953. In the meantime, the original branch, having main line connections, continued to offer a good service, but as travelling patterns changed so receipts diminished. Passenger services were withdrawn in September 1964 and goods traffic from April 1966.