Daily Archives: November 12, 2012

Some Early Lines The Stoke Ferry Line and the Wissington Light Railway

Some Early Lines

The Stoke Ferry line and the Wissington Light Railway

Stoke Ferry Station c 1900

The Stoke Ferry line ….opened, the 1st August, 1882.

The first train of the day would leave Stoke Ferry’s single platform at 8.30a.m. and then work to and from Downham, eventually arriving back at Stoke Ferry with the last train at 6.21 p.m. The passenger service disappeared as early as 1930 but the line still functions for traffic to and from the BSC factory at Abbey.

The Wissington Light Railway started its life just after the turn of the century as a sort of cross between an oversize private siding and a farm railway. It was severely damaged by floods when the Little Ouse broke its banks in 1915 but when the sugar beet factory was opened in 1925 the railway was acquired under a long lease and was nearly doubled in length with the specific object of providing transport facilities for sugar beet from areas which were not easily accessible by road. At this time there was 18 miles of track, one locomotive and nearly 100 wagons.

At the height of its development the light railway served over 30 loading points and even as late as 1954 carried nearly 25,000 tons of traffic. Its main function was the carriage of sugar beet to the factory and of agricultural traffic generally to and from the main line railway. From the Wissington factory the light railway headed south towards Larmans Fen with passing loops at Barretts, Cross Road Junction, Decoy and Poppylot siding. A branch from Cross Road Junction headed towards Hemplands, serving Halfway, Severals Siding and terminating at Common Dyke Loop. After Martingales Siding the main line divided into two with one arm passing through Methwold Fens and the other veering southwards towards Feltwell.

The Methwold arm terminated near the bank of the Ouse midway between Ferry Bank Farm and Flint House Farm. En route it came by way of Larmans, Six Oaks, Poppylot Farm, Fourscore, Wannage and Sedge Fen Farm, having also a short branch to Bourne. In the other direction there were three arms. The first ran from Cross Bank via Spinney to Anchor Sidings. The second left the main tributary at Black Drain and served Glead Farm and Old and New Shrub Hill in Feltwell Fen. The remaining arm ran via Corkway, Spencers, Whitedyke and Felt Road Siding to Whitedyke Farm. In all, quite a complicated system.

The Ministry of Agriculture requisitioned the line with effect from the 24th August, 1941 in view of the importance of wartime food production.

…it continued to serve a useful existence until the end finally came on the 1st July, 1957, when the Ministry ceased to operate a service. Thus, after a full life, the light railway was replaced by road transport leaving the Stoke Ferry branch to go on dealing with its freight trains in the area of the Wissey.

http://www.feltwell.net    Geoffrey Body

The Wissington Light Railway began at a little place called Abbey on the Stoke ferry branch of the one-time Great Eastern Railway.  It was built without Act of Parliament or Light railway Order and ran through the fens to Wissington and Methwold.  The line was reconditioned in 1942 after being taken over by the minister of Agriculture under War Emergency powers.  The service was maintained by the British Sugar Corporation.  The line was closed on 30th June 1957, except for the section from Abbey to the sugar beet factory at Wissington.  Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST works No. 1700 (built in 1938) picks up a truck of potatoes from a road side siding in May, 1957. (Dr. Ian C. Allen)