Linton in Pictures
A History of Linton
in Photographs
Available here
THE LINTON RAILWAY 1865 TO 1967

The growing traffic problems on the A1307 have led to many people voicing the opinion that it was a mistake to close the Stour Valley Railway Line in 1967. There were once up to six trains a day connecting Linton to Cambridge, and the journey was completed in under twenty five minutes. Trains from Linton arrived in Haverhill within eighteen minutes and Bartlow was just over five minutes away. From Bartlow Junction a branch line connected the Stour Valley to Saffron Walden and Audley End, opening up easy access to London. Imagine how convenient these railway links would be today.

The railway reached Cambridge in 1845 and most local people imagined that the link to Colchester would quickly follow. Yet twenty long years were to pass by before the Stour Valley section of that route was finally completed. Money was tight and the steep gradient from Bartlow to Haverhill presented the railway engineers with serious technical problems.

However, by 1860 the Great Eastern Railway finally approved the line and the Linton to Shelford section was opened to general traffic on June 1st, 1865. The Cambridge Chronicle reported the opening of the railway, "There was much merrymaking in the quiet town of Linton. Business was suspended and the Church bells sent forth a peal testifying the joy of the inhabitants. The Bartlow Hills were literally alive and many a hearty cheer was given for the success of the line which was associated with the names of Brassey and Company, the eminent Railway contractors".

In October 1866 an extension from Bartlow to Audley End was opened, linking the Stour Valley settlements to the main London line.The construction of the railway led to the demolition of some Linton cottages close to where the railway embankment crossed the Hadstock Road. Two railway bridges were built in the village, one across the Hadstock Road and the other over the track leading to Catley Park Farm.

Linton Station became the centre of village activity and trade. Myhill & Sons and Coote & Warren established their coal depots here, local butchers brought livestock from the Cambridge Market and builders used the railway to convey the fashionable yellowish Cambridge brick to reface or replace existing Linton properties.

In September 1866 over one hundred and seventy adults and children made their first ever journey to the seaside at Harwich. For most children the Sunday School outing was the major social event of the year, and Clacton with its 1180 ft pier was the most popular venue. Beaches were segregated until 1900, bathing machines were still in use and males had to wear bathing suits which extended from the neck to the knees.

In 1909 the Choir were ecstatic because they had been allowed to view “HMS Superb”, one of only three Dreadnought battleships in the British Fleet. Over 150 warships were present at the review of the fleet off Southend.

During the 1920’s and 1930’s the railway system suffered from a chronic lack of investment and rolling stock was rarely replaced. The ravages of the Second World War and Post War shortages accentuated the decline of the railways. Rival forms of transport reduced profitability and the closure of uneconomic branch lines began in earnest.

All still seemed well with our local line in 1951 when Linton travellers were able to visit the Festival of Britain Exhibition in London for return fare of 53p, and travel to Cambridge for only 8p return. However, the Stour Valley line was losing over £ 26,000 a year by the early 1960’s and the infamous Doctor Beeching brought down his famous “Axe” in 1967. The last passenger train ran from Sudbury to Cambridge on March 4th 1967.

Before the rails were removed our local line was to play a significant role in the film, Virgin Soldiers. In October 1968, a stretch of the disused Bartlow railway line running through a wooded area close to Bartlow Park was turned into a section of the Malayan jungle. Most of the anti-war picture was filmed in Malaya by the Columbia British Film Company.

The film starred Lyn Redgrave, as the sergeant’s daughter and Hywell Bennett, as a National Service private soldier. The closing sequence showed a train load of “raw” British troops being ambushed by communist guerrillas, and that sequence was filmed at Bartlow in mid October. British Rail supplied the locomotive, four carriages and a brake van. All the rolling stock was painted to convey the impression that this was a real Malaysian train. The train was deliberately wrecked for this final ambush scene. The end scene in the film shows Hywell Bennett running along the line to stop another troop train, the last train to run on our local line!

In May, 1976 a plan was presented to the RDC and PC’s to convert the main station building to a house and a light industrial site. In May, 1978 Walden Precision Apparatus Ltd. applied for a two storey factory and offices at the Railway Station site. No objections were raised by the PC or the RDC.