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Epping Ongar Railway Station

“Deep in the Essex countryside, at the sleepy far eastern end of the Central Line, lies this branch with a history more interesting than the line itself. The bucolic qualities of the line, serving a sparse local population, would have made it a prime candidate for closure under Dr. Beeching’s axe but it survived a bit longer having been taken over by London Underground. However, a loss making line was never going to last forever or to quote Lewis Cox, it was closed …because no-one used it.”

So begins the entry for the Epping Ongar line on the ‘Abandoned Stations’ website. These days the Epping Ongar Railway is an established heritage railway run by an enthusiastic team of volunteers.

The London Underground’s Central line from Loughton via Epping to Ongar, with intermediate stations at North Weald and Blake Hall, was closed in 1994 but then reopened between 2004 and 2007 as a preserved railway offering a volunteer-run Class 117 DMU service between Ongar and Coopersale. A change of ownership in 2007 led to the line being closed for restoration and trasformation into its current heritage steam railway status. It reopened on 25 May 2012.

I explored the line with The Boys last weekend on the occasion of the line’s 150th Anniversary. I couldn’t resist the following images that hint at something of the character of the line, it’s a character that’s still apparent today.

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Just as it says: ‘LAST (Underground) TRAIN’ to Ongar, at Epping Station in 1994
A central line train trundles through Blake Hall station which is reputed to have been the quietest station on the whole underground system, a fact that’s not hugely surprising given that it’s located in the middle of open fields with only a few farm houses around.
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Our day started here, at North Weald station, we’d been ferried up from Epping Station, along the High Street and the fringes of Epping Forest in a beautifully restored Routemaster bus. as a base for the EO railway rolling stock North Weald has taken on a new lease of life, and is today a more active station than at any time in it’s previous history…
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A gorgeous rail-level view of North Weald…
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And here’s the end of the line – those ornate seats by the way, are still gracing the platform today…
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Pre-war,1938, spick & span at the buffer stops at Ongar… note the new suburban housing springing up around the station…
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Branchline nostalgia, May 1938, a view of the layout of Ongar station, with goods yard and shed…
Another glimpse of the station…
ongar station 1997
The grafitti reads ‘Kool Moves’ but I’m not sure many people would have thought in 1997 that anything would move on the rails at Ongar again…

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3 thoughts on “Epping – Ongar

  1. I hate to be a critic but the bus isn’t a Routemaster, I’m fairly sure it’s an AEC RT type. Used to travel to school on them while we lived in Croydon. When they put the Routemaster on the 130 route we thought it the height of luxury. It was on the upstairs back seat of an RT, aged 13, that I first plucked up the courage to hold Jill’s hand and she’s still with me, the girls got stamina.

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    1. Graham, how are you? I hope you’re well? Thanks so much for putting me straight about the bus and sharing such a romantic story!
      Very best wishes to you both
      Nick

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  2. Hi Nick, we’re both fine after a rather soggy winter on the Shroppie. Looking forward to summer cruising. Heading towards Chester at the moment and after that? We’ll see which way the wind blows.
    Your family look to be in fine fettle, always enjoy reading your posts.
    Yours Aye,
    Graham.

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