East of Enfield, North of Stratford

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At the end of the month London Overground will take over more of north-east London’s railways. It seems timely, therefore, to take a look at the history of the railways in the area. For though you might not think it, the lines in the inner parts of what was Essex, the old London County Council area and parts of Hertfordshire are as complex as almost anywhere in the country. With that in mind, an understanding of how they got to be that way, if not essential, will certainly help those looking to understand the changes those lines have seen so far, and the changes yet to come.

Here in part 1 we take a brief literary tour through some of the pre-privatisation history of the lines and the trains that populated them, inter-spaced with some photos of the trains and places covered. In part 2 we will look at historical services and facilities, and then finally in part 3 John Bull will take an indepth look at the North London Line in recent times – a line that forms something of a microcosm for London’s recent surface rail history.

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Once the pride of 34A, 70002 “Geoffry Chaucer” pictured at Postland, a sight that would have been familiar in the area.

Starting early

The first lines in the area were two of the earliest in London, one, the London & Blackwall (L&B), opened in 1840, using continuous rope haulage. The original terminus was at Minories, extended to Fenchurch Street in 1841. The other was the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR), opened in 1839-40 to Bishopsgate but operating, like the L&B on a non-standard railway gauge of 5ft. It would remain that way until gauge conversion to standard took place from 1844 onwards.

Minories_stationLBR

Minories station in about 1840, via Wikipedia

At the same time, another company, the Northern & Eastern (N&E) were slowly opening, in stages, a line from Stratford to Cambridge. The part of interest to Londoners, up as far as Cheshunt and Broxbourne, opened in 1840 – the same year as the L&B. It wasn’t the only similarity, for the N&E also operated on an unusual gauge, having to be converted at a later date.

1845 saw proposals to extend the L&B to Epping. Whilst the extension plans themselves came to nothing, they were not entirely without result – in 1849, after lengthy negotiations, the L&B was linked with the ECR between what are now known as Limehouse and Bow Junctions. The same year saw a branch line open, running in an almost straight line from Angel Road to the important suburb of Enfield.

The next year saw further changes in the area. Again, after protracted negotiations – often whilst building of the line was already under way – the snappily-named East & West India Docks & Birmingham Junction Railway (E&WID&BJR) opened. It ran through from the top of Camden Bank to the docks from which it took its name, making connections with the L&B around Bow, and adding to the complex of lines at Stratford. It wasn’t long before the E&WID&BJR opted to change its name – and thus the North London Railway (NLR) was born.

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Fowler “big goods” 4-F 0-6-6 44210 heading towards the docks in 1961. The DLR now runs in this exact same place whilst the Jubilee line runs through the bridge-span to the left, obscured by steam.

You could be forgiven for thinking all this railway activity was enough for the area but there would be two more developments, albeit followed by a pause of almost 15 years. These were the opening of the original London Tilbury & Southend Railway (LTSR) from Forest Gate Junction to Barking and Tilbury in 1854, and the branch line from North of Stratford to Loughton in 1856, followed by the almost inevitable cut-off between Barking and Gas Factory Junction in 1856.

By the time all this expansion had been completed, the layout of lines in the area had become quite extensive – a main line from Bishopsgate to Norwich, via Stratford and Ipswich, a second main line to Cambridge from Stratford, two branches to Enfield and Loughton, and a secondary main line from Fenchurch St to Tilbury and Southend. All this plus the various interconnections.

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Stanier 8-F 2-8-0 48367 crossing the old course of the River Lea, T&FGJtRly, 1962. One of the waterworks pump-houses can be seen at extreme right.

The crash of 1866

After this there was a noticeable pause in activity. The lines were amalgamated into the Great Eastern Railway (GER) in 1862, and the new company started work to extend the lines to Liverpool Street shortly thereafter. But 1866 was notorious for the greatest financial crash of the 19th Century, something which would leave the GER struggling for some time. As a result this connection did not come quickly, finally opening (into what is now Liverpool Street West Side) in 1874. Elsewhere, though, work did continue. An extension from Loughton to Epping opened in 1865, narrowly beating the crash, with a new, resited, station on a sharp curve. The previous station, as was to happen later in Chingford, became the goods depot. A very useful interlink was also made with the Midland Railway in 1868, in the form of the Tottenham & Hampstead Joint line.

The crash of 1866 caused other problems for the GER, which at the time worked the LTSR through a leasing arrangement – an arrangement made more complicated, to say the least, by the bankruptcy of the builder and lessor S M Peto during the crash.

Luckily by 1868-69 financial matters had improved enough to allow a second burst of construction – part of it in response to the construction of another line by the Great Northern Railway, from Bounds Green to Enfield Chase (old). This would open in 1871. The GER almost immediately began work on the construction of two branches and multiple connections. Despite construction being conducted simultaneously, these would largely open in stages thanks to difficulties with tunnelling and other earthworks.

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A typical view at Stratford – a line of N-7s and a J-69 “buckjumper” 0-6-0T 68566 in the foreground.

Getting familiar

It is at this time that many of the names that will now be familiar to north-east London’s growing population of commuters and Hoxtonistas begin to appear. Lea Bridge Junction – Walthamstow – Shernhall St temporary station in 1870. Bethnal Green – Hackney Downs – Lower Edmonton (High Level – now Edmonton Green) in 1872. And finally, in 1873, Hackney Downs – Copper Mill Junction and, via bridge over the Lea canal, to Hall Farm Junction. In that year the temporary Walthamstow terminus, which was in a very deep cutting, was abandoned is part of works to extend to Chingford (the original station which would later became a goods and coal yard). As will be seen later, the original intention was to extend out even further to High Beech, but this was curtailed and the current terminus of the Chingford branch opened in 1878. In the same year another branch opened from Seven Sisters to “Palace Gates” (Wood Green) – the supposed gates being those of Alexandra Palace, over the Great Northern Railway main line and up the same steep hill.

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Fowler 3MT 2-6-2T 40031, about to leave Kentish Town Shed. Note the condensing-apparatus pipes, as these were used to operate services to Moorgate as well as along the two “Tottenham Joint” lines.

Mr Warner’s Railway

As the end of the 19th Century drew near, much of the complex network of lines that still criss-cross the area today were in place. There were still a few more developments to come though. The Hall Farm – Copper Mills Junction curve opened in 1885, a few years after the Southbury loop, between Lower Edmonton & Cheshunt (1881). Then, finally, came “Mr Warner’s Railway” – the Tottenham & Forest Gate Junction, between South Tottenham and Woodgrange Park in 1894.

Mr Warner, then resident at the Higham’s Park estate, was said to be the wealthiest member of the House of Commons and had pressed the LTSR and the MR to make the connection. Beyond the railway his presence can still be felt today in Walthamstow, where large numbers of “Warners’ Estates” properties still dominate whole areas – small, neat, and very well-constructed buildings for the most part which have endured long after the area’s estate agents have forgotten the reasons behind the name. Nor does his influence end there. After death, Warner left his lands in the north east of what is now Waltham Forest to the public as parkland. This land is now largely incorporated into Epping Forest – hence Highams Park lake – which is an entirely artificial structure.

The 20th Century dawns and the Underground makes its presence felt

Although the Metropolitan & District Railway (now the London Underground) had opened as far as Whitechapel in 1884 and trains running through Brunel’s Thames Tunnel had reached Liverpool Street in 1876, no further connection was made between mainline and Metropolitan until 1902-1905, when the Metropolitan & District extended to Bromley-by-Bow and then Barking, coupled with 4th rail electrification (although it is unclear as to whether this was initially at 500V, 600V or 630V – see references). Meanwhile, in 1903, the GER opened the loop line from Woodford, round via Hainault to between Seven Kings and Ilford.

These would be the last major works in the area in the “pre-grouping” era – the period before the passing of the 1921 Railway Act. The Act was intended to try and stem the rail industry’s growing losses, in part held to be the result of the vast numbers of small railway companies that existed. As a result over 120 companies were consolidated into just five.

There would be no further developments until the London Passenger Transport Board’s (LPTB) New Works Plan in 1935. This proposed to electrify Liverpool St – Shenfield via 1.5kv DC overhead wire. It also saw proposals to extend the Central Line from Liverpool Street via Mile End and Stratford, to Leyton and to take over both the ex-GER branch north of there and the Hainault loop, (re-connecting the line back to itself at Leytonstone utilising a new tube tunnel, from Newbury Park, through Gant’s Hill, Redbridge, and Wanstead).

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The mainstay of GER suburban services. 1926 – 59. N-7 0-6-2T 69640 rests at Stratford. Note the ex-LNER coaches and the canopy of the Lea Valley lines platforms of the main station in the background.

The original proposal had a steam-powered shuttle running north of Loughton, but this was soon altered. Originally, it was also proposed to leave the running connections back to the LNER (as it now was) lines for freight use and this continued for some time, although it would not last forever. The Newbury Park – Ilford link was the first to go in 1956, but the Stratford – Leyton link did not go until as late as 1971. Indeed for many years there was one “BR” train a day, although it does not appear in this author’s 1961 timetable copy!

Finally, the Victoria Line opened from Walthamstow (Hoe St – which was renamed as “Central”) to Highbury & Islington in 1969, and from there in stages towards Victoria and Brixton. There would then be one last burst of quasi-Underground activity before privatisation, with the revival of large parts of the London & Blackwall, and part of the NLR, as the Docklands Light Railway (DLR).

Might Have beens

As is always the case in Britain, there were numerous proposals for lines that came to nothing, either being abandoned before even the parliamentary bill stage, or bought out by the existing commercial opposition to any particular idea, or subsumed into other, later proposals and construction. We have already seen the idea floated by the L&B to extend to Epping, which failed back in the 1840s. One or two others perhaps deserve a mention.

There were early proposals by the ECR to build a line remarkably similar to that which later became the LTSR, and schemes were put forward in the Parliamentary sessions of 1836, 1846, 1847 and 1851 – the last actually promoted by the then still independent L&B. The ECR also promoted a grand “mania” pair of lines in 1846 – one half branching off where Lea Bridge Station once was (and will be again) and curving much more gently to the north east than the later Hall Farm curve, following the route of the later Chingford branch to Wood Street, but then continuing straight on, presumably by tunnelling through the Forest ridge and joining the other route approximately where South Woodford station now stands. The other “half” of this route would have diverged from the ECR (GER) main line at approximately where Ilford car sheds now are and driven almost due north. There was, at that stage, no hint of a “Hainault loop” and the combined route would than have proceeded through Loughton, but with much gentler curvature than the present alignment towards Epping. It has been sometimes remarked that the idea was to extend this branch to Chelmsford via Ongar and Writtle, but solid parliamentary proposals did not materialise.

After the mania died down, there was an interloping proposal of 1852, partly supported by the NLR (& LNWR) and also by Edward Warner for The Woodford Railway in 1852. This would have left the NLR approximately at Homerton, crossed the marshes and gone on to, again, very approximately Leyton Midland, Whipps Cross and Woodford.

Twelve years later, the newly-amalgamated GER put in its first “Chingford line” proposal, which would have diverged from the by-now-opened Loughton branch just short of Leyton station and gone in an effectively direct line to just past where Wood Street station now is, along the remainder of the line as built, but continued on to High Beech, in the Forest. The great banking crash of 1866 killed that idea stone dead, but “ghost” remnants of the previous schemes can be seen in odd curvatures on the line as it was eventually built – the kink just to the east of Nag’s Head tunnel, the sharp curve at Wood St, & the way the Chingford terminus still, even with an end-run platform now in place, looks like an unfinished through station. At least one more attempt was made to extend to High Beech, but the Epping Forest Act put paid to that and the great forest survives to this day, a haunt of deer, snakes, badgers, buzzards & other wildlife.

Our final mention of might-have-beens must go to the electrically-driven City & North-East Suburban Railway of 1902-6 – which resulted in the production of the remarkable Decapod, by the GER, to show that the new electric railway was unnecessary by (successfully) demonstrating that a steam engine could take a 300 ton train to 30mph in just 30 seconds.

Owners and operators

Despite the complexity of the lines within the area, as the history above has hopefully shown there were surprisingly few companies, once the GER itself had been formed. Relevant constituents were the already-mentioned Eastern Counties, London & Blackwall, & the Northern & Eastern. Using running powers to access Fenchurch St station was the London Tilbury & Southend, taken over by the Midland in 1912. Then there was the (Eventually snappily-named) North London, which was wholly operated by the London & North West from about 1909, but was not actually absorbed into the larger company until a year before the main “grouping”. The route through the Thames Tunnel became part of the East London Joint Committee, leased by: the Metropolitan, the Metropolitan and District, GER, SER, LCDR and LBSCR! Readers are recommended to the relevant Middleton Press volume (“East London Line”) for more details of this particular curious arrangement!

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The most powerful 0-4-0 built in Britain, class Y-4 dock tank, recycled as a “Departmental” locomotive, No 33 at Stratford.

By the time the Metropolitan and District extended east from Whitechapel to Barking it was part of the London Electric Railways grouping, along with the Yerkes Tubes. Lastly, there were the two joint railways, which formed an end-to-end connection from Barking to Carlton Rd Junction on the Midland. It should be remembered that the connection at Gospel Oak was freight-only until 1981, when the stub of the service to Kentish Town, & previously St Pancras, was discontinued. These were the Tottenham & Hampstead and the Tottenham & Forest Gate.

At grouping in 1922, the GE became part of the LNER, the Midland, LNW & NLR all became LMS constituents, and the LER carried on until 1933, when the LPTB was formed and they officially became part of the Underground. Ignoring the internal changes at the top of the LPTB & successors, the only other change was nationalisation, in 1948 and ultimately privatisation beyond – something we will look at in part 3.

Closures and re-openings

As is common throughout the country, the ex-GER lines have seen their fair share of closures and reopenings. A few worth highlighting are mentioned below.

The Southbury Loop opened in 1881, with three intermediate stations at Churchbury, Turkey St, and Theobalds Grove. It would close to passenger services in 1919, but not before it had grown slightly to include a temporary WWI station at Carterhatch Lane 1916-19 for munitions workers travelling to and from Brimsdown. All three main stations would eventually re-open, with Churchbury re-named to Southbury, after the line was electrified in 1960.

Epping – Ongar, meanwhile, is perhaps the best known of the reopened lines in the area, for it is now home to the Epping Ongar railway, who are hoping to be able to re-open through to Epping in the next year or two. Intermediate stations existed at North Weald and Blake Hall, the latter of which is currently still closed. There may be a halt opened at Coopersale, if/when the Epping service is resumed.

Angel Road – Enfield Town represented an early closure, with most passenger services discontinued on the opening of the “direct” line from Bethnal Green via Seven Sisters in 1872. A “parliamentary” train continued, we believe, until the outbreak of WWII. After this the southern part of the line was kept open until some time in the late 1950s for freight access to factories. Further closures gradually followed. The last few yards of track remained tenaciously in use as a shunting stub until Angel Road gasworks closed.

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North Thames Gas No 11 – Sentinel locomotive at Angel Road Gas works, 1962.

Palace Gates Branch, with two intermediate stations at Noel Park and West Green, closed to passengers in 1963 – and to all traffic the following year. The LNER eventually built a connection to the ex-GNR branch to Enfield Chase in 1929 and part of this still remains – used as a shunting stub, behind Bounds Green depot.

Elsewhere Blackhorse Road station was moved because, despite the Victoria Line’s construction much later in 1969, the two stations were on opposite sides of the road. The narrow-platformed station as we now know it, now part of the London Overground, actually only opened in 1981. Of the connecting curves in the Lea Valley, Tottenham Hale – South Tottenham closed in approximately 1960-61, as it was never electrified. At the same time Hall Farm Junction – Copper Mills Junction was closed and lifted. Hall Farm Junction to Lea Bridge Junction was electrified, but never saw regular services and was closed in 1967. Its re-opening was included in the “BR No2” bill of the 1989-90 session, but never implemented.

The list continues. Ilford – Newbury Park closed in 1956. Loughton Junction – Leyton in 1971. Victoria Park – Bow (Now Bow Church DLR) fell victim to the decline of the docks, closing in 1981. South of Bow Church it would eventually reopen as part of the DLR. This, and other closures and reopenings in the area will be tackled at a later date. As will the closures related to Broad Street and elsewhere.

One final mention should perhaps go to the station that never opened – Hackney Queens Rd, between the two tunnels, themselves between Hackney Downs and Clapton.

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At Stratford depot in 1963.

Trains – locomotive and rolling stock

As the images scattered throughout this article show, the steam trains (and more) which ran on the lines covered here were many and varied but, as time went by, a much greater uniformity of both locomotives and coaching stock prevailed. On the lines under consideration, as far as possible a company’s “standard” class of suburban tank engine – so called because they carried their water in one or more onboard tanks, usually hauled the trains.

One must remember, however, that many stations had small freight yards (something we will explore in a future article). On the Chingford branch, for example, there may have had no dedicated freight facilities at Clapton or St James’ Street, but Hoe St (now Walthamstow Central) had a relatively large yard, with extra sidings for handling the Walthamstow UDC power-station coal traffic after 1901, and although Wood St was on a viaduct/embankment, there was a ground-level goods/coal yard accessed by a very steep gradient. Freight here and elsewhere was largely handled by 0-6-0 tender engines. Yards also existed at Higham’s Park and Chingford (old). There were carriage sidings at Chingford and Wood Street. The latter even had a tiny locomotive shed, housing four locomotives for the rush-hour extra trains.

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An N-7 0-6-2T hauls a railtour over its former haunts at Wood Street, Walthamstow. The photo was taken in 1962, by which point the line had been electrified for two years already.

Those less concerned with the specific types of locomotives used may wish to skip ahead to the arrival of diesel and electricity, but for the completionists the area played host to a wide variety of engines. Before Walthamstow power station finally ceasing generation in the winter of 1967-8 it was possible to watch the occasional coal train arriving at Hoe St almost always hauled by “Brush type2” (Class 31) locomotives though occasionally, especially at the beginning, after steam had vanished, one got a BTH type 2 (Class 15).

The usual motive power for local goods trains meanwhile was a J-17 or sometimes, particularly in earlier times, a J-15. J-19s were occasionally seen, but the bigger, heavier J-20s were not usually seen on the branches, because of their greater weight and axle loadings. They were, however, a common sight on the Cambridge main line along with, post-grouping, a variety of considerably heavier locomotives, such as classes O-2 and O-4, with D-16, B-12, B-17, B-2 and B-1 locomotives on longer-distance passenger workings.

The GER suburban passenger services were also worked by various types. It is said that the original Lea Bridge – Stratford shuttle was operated by a Sinclair 2-4-2T. By 1873, the Enfield and Chingford branch services were usually being operated by S W Johnson 0-4-4T locomotives, none of which lasted long enough to be given an LNER classification. Later designers promoted the use of 2-4-2T locos, such as the F-5 as well as diminutive 0-6-0’s later classes such as these J-69. Some of these lasted, as freight locomotives, almost until the end of steam in the area.

In 1925-6, H N Gresley obtained board approval to build many more of a modified version of a GER Hill design, classed N-7 by the LNER. These worked the bulk of all suburban services until electrification or diesel units took over. During the 1930’s some more powerful “V-1” 2-6-2T locomotives worked the outer suburban services, but they were all transferred away at the end of WWII, after which the Class L-1 made an appearance. For reasons unknown to the author, these locomotives also tended to work a lot of the Palace Gates – North Woolwich trains, which also, in later days were sometimes also of non-standard” coaching stock. These were 5-coach articulated slam-door sets, paired to make 10 car trains in the peaks. Each coach was only 43’6”” long (approx: 13.3m), but there were 348 seats. Despite this, even with 6-a-side (12 seats per compartment) there was often 150%+ loading at the peak.

The LTS, for all of its independent existence used a series of elegant 4-4-2T locomotives of increasing size, usually with bogie carriages throughout. As these gradually wore out, the successor LMSR replaced them with Fowler 2-6-2T or 2-6-4s and then later with Stanier 2-6-4 3-cylinder machines for the main services from Fenchurch Street. The coaching stock was standard LMS compartment carriages. Most local freight was handled in later days by Fowler 4-F 0-6-0s, but through heavy workings usually attracted the standard Stanier 8-F 2-8-0. Towards the end of steam, “standard” 9-F 2-10-0s also appeared, often on through trains from the oil refineries at Shell Haven, now “Thamesport”.

In carriage terms passenger services were sometimes formed of Quad-Art sets as preserved in Norfolk, but, the reality was much more often – indeed almost always – as shown in this set of pictures. These LNER sets replaced a heterogeneous collection of disintegrating GER carriages which had worked the their earlier “Jazz” services (so called because the different coloured coaches, each relating to a class, were considered “jazzy” in the parlance of the day). These themselves replaced oil-lit four-wheeled coaches, from the 1870’s or before. The GER did not go over to bogie coaching stock for its suburban services until 1911-15, having originally used 4-wheelers. First, to increase capacity these coaches were cut in half longitudinally and widened. Later they were removed from their 4-wheel underframes, joined lengthwise and re-fitted onto bogies and new longer frames. It is little surprise that as a result they were worn out by 1925. Here is what one would have looked like at the start of that evolution.

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Broad Street, complete with EMU, in 1985

Electric and diesel traction arrive

Electric traction and rolling stock, at a mixture of 25kV AC & quarter-voltage ( 6.25kV ), arrived in 1959 for services to Chingford, Enfield, Hertford East and Bishops Stortford via the Churchbury Loop. The 6.25kV sections were converted to full 25kV in 1983, once it was realised that, in most cases, smaller clearances could be used without flashover, coupled with minor modifications and an insulator replacement programme. This mix of voltages could lead to some interesting effects, and journeys in an accelerating power-car as it passed from the lower voltage to the higher often produced an interesting collection of thumps and bangs from the equipment.

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A down train, hauled by a newly-introduced class 86 (214), at Bethnal Green in 1985

The Lea Valley and Palace Gates – North Woolwich services gradually went over to first-generation Diesel Multiple Units (DMU) during the same period. It can be tempting sometimes to regard the removal of steam power as something frequently mourned, but here the arrival of DMUs was much welcomed, at least by regular passengers, as they were replacing worn-out stock. Elsewhere whilst services beyond Bishops Stortford, previously hauled by Sandringhams and B-1’s, went over to Type 2 diesel haulage, the inner electric services were usually operated by Mk-1 bodied, 3-coach slam-door sets, later classed as “305” (originally AM5). It should be noted that at one point, when modifications had to be made to these, some “Manchester” class AM4’s were drafted in as temporary replacements.

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Electrification underway on the extensions to Harwich & Norwich in 1985. Network South East colours are visible and what used to be called “The Hook Continental” is approaching up Bethnal Green Bank.

The Lea Valley route, from Clapton Junction to Cheshunt was finally itself electrified in 1969. Roughly ten years later, the well-known class 315 replaced all the earlier types for inner-suburban work. These trains can still be seen in service today, although they are now approaching the end of their useful lives. Other services are operated by class 317 units, though it is common for these to be seen on the Chingford branch too, as there is a service and storage facility at Chingford station, capable of holding 18 4-car sets.

The Barking – St Pancras service was allowed to wither on the vine, being cut back to Kentish Town during the late 1960s. An improvement in connectivity came about as a result of the Bed-Pan electrification, as the terminus was diverted to Gospel Oak in January 1981, but, until the takeover by TfL the service had, it is said, the oldest (2-car) DMUs in the country – and sadly the least reliable.

The edges of the Underground

On the Epping and Hainault branches, the locomotives and stock used were very similar to that on the other lines – there’s a wonderful photograph in “The Central Line”, of an “N-7” edging over a temporary bridge at Snaresbrook, during the post-war reconstruction, prior to “tube” operation. This did not apply, of course to the Ongar shuttle, which carried on with “F-5” tanks & ex-GER coaches until 1957.

Once the 4th rail had been laid and energised, the last build of London Transport “standard stock” of a 1923 basic design took over. These were the last types to have separate motor compartments behind the drivers cab. Here is a classic photo of the contrast at Epping in 1956.

Most services had their rolling stock replaced between 1956 and 1959 with the new unpainted Aluminium stock of those years, and these lasted until the current Central Line vehicles arrived in 1992-3. There were, however, two oddities: beyond Epping and Woodford – Hainault. The Epping – Ongar service was later operated by units of the 1936-8 build of “streamlined” tube carriages, as normally seen on the Northern and other lines. Meanwhile the Woodford – Hainault shuttle was operated with unique 1960, Cravens-built 3-car sets, latterly fitted with experimental Automatic Train Operation (ATO) equipment, for pre-trials of the system that would eventually be used on the Victoria Line.

Said Victoria line opened in stages, with the well-known original ATO stock of a 1967 design.

Lastly, in 1979, passenger services re-appeared between Dalston and Stratford, the previous one to Bow having been finally closed in 1944. Before then the trains had been hauled by NLR 4-4-0 tanks, then by a variety of LMS locomotives, but usually a “Jinty” 3-F 0-6-0T. The original, grim NLR 4-wheel coaches were replaced with newer LMS stock or secondhand vehicles from other parts of the LMS “empire”.

Meanwhile, on re-opening, the Camden Road – North Woolwich service was initially operated by 2-car DMUS, which lasted until May 1985, when the originally 630V DC 3rd + 4th rail electrification became 3rd-rail only. This brought a mixture of the earlier ex-LMR 3-car electric units, class 501, and a later influx of 2-EPB /416 units transferred from the Southern Region. The introduction of class 313 dual-voltage units came in 1989, but final conversion to OHLE at 25kV AC came after privatisation.

In part two we will finish looking at the various aspects of the area’s history, including timetables and freight. We’ll also look at some of the other sources of information for those interested in further exploring the area. Finally, in part 3, John Bull will take a look at the North London Line.

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Written by John Bull