From the 'Haverhill Echo' of 12 May 1966 and the 'Suffolk Free Press' of Thursday 7 July and 11 August 1966



Shock announcement by British Rail

In August or September, freight trains will cease to operate on the Stour Valley railway line where the passenger services are already doomed for closure.

British Rail will at any time now be announcing their intention to withdraw goods services from the line, a spokesman at Eastern Region Headquarters, Norwich, told the 'Echo' this week.

The only procedure they have to take to do this is to publish announcements in the National Press three months in advance.

Already consultations have taken place with rail staff and principal local traders with a view to any worthwhile freight being moved by road to the nearest railheads at Bury St Edmunds or Cambridge.

The goods withdrawal will affect the whole 50 mile stretch of line, from Shelford to Marks Tey, including of course the Haverhill and Clare stations.

The rail spokesman said freight was a money loser on the Stour Valley line. He would not comment on the extent of the loses but said: "The goods section of the line stands or falls on its own feet. If it had paid, we should not be withdrawing it now. We have assessed the situation carefully".

"We are now in a motorised age, not the horse and cart era, and goods can be taken by road to other centres of rail communication".

Haverhill's coal supplies would, for instance, come from a coal concentration centre or Cambridge.


The upshot of the goods withdrawal will be a weakening of the case for keeping open the passenger services. The passenger service was notified for closure about four years ago. There was a big outcry of objections at the public inquiry last August but the T.U.C.C. came out with a recommendation that the line should be closed from Shelford to Sudbury because it was considered alternative facilities for transport could be made available.

The line is now only in a state of 'reprieve' because the Transport Minister decided to refer it to the new East Anglian Planning Council for consideration and report.

But a new line of thinking for the Stour Valley track is that it could be made to run economically, passenger-wise, by doing away with all stations and having halts.

Two Haverhill rail goods employees, a working foreman (Mr. H. J. Eves) and a leading porter, this week received redundancy notices.


The clerk to Haverhill Town Council, Mr. William Blake, this week told the 'Echo': "The council has received no intimation from British Rail that they intend to discontinue the freight service on the Stour Valley line, I am today writing to the District Manager at Norwich asking for information on the subject.

"When I receive a reply the matter will be considered by the Council's Public Relations Committee, and although, of course, I cannot anticipate their decision, I think it is likely that they will instruct me to object to any cut in rail services, at least until the Minister of Transport has given her decision on the proposal by British Rail to close the line for passenger services".

Mr. Fred Pues, chairman of the Haverhill Chamber of Commerce Transport Sub-Committee, said the public had always been given to believe the freight service was not losing money and that it was the passenger trains which were uneconomic. His first reaction to the closure news was: "I cannot think it will affect us over much due to the fact that the appalling services now existing have not been convenient to use. But this does not mean that future factories moving to Haverhill will not want to use rail freight services quite a lot".

12 May 1966


Another appeal to British Rail

by urban council

British Rail is to be asked by Haverhill Urban Council if it would defer a decision on the withdrawal of local freight services until the town’s future is determined.

Mr Horace Eves told the council last week that discussions regarding the withdrawal had been going on for a long while, and the main local customers were now being consulted.

"We were told the withdrawal was going to take effect from the end of July or beginning of August, but certain difficulties suggest that it might be delayed a little further", he said.

"But when alternative arrangements can be found it seems they will be withdrawn - overnight if necessary".

The Clerk, Mr William Blake, said he had already asked British Rail for a possible deferment of a decision, but it was agreed a further resolution from the council would do no harm.

"While it would do no harm, I feel the decisions have already been made", said Mr Eves.

The town's development committee was authorised to look into the acquisition of any buildings or land that became redundant if freight services were withdrawn.

7 July 1966



Freight service: no reprieve likely

Although the government could possibly intervene on the future of the Stour Valley passenger service, it has no powers regarding the freight service which British Rail intends to withdraw from Haverhill on Monday.

This is the reply the Haverhill Urban Council has received from the Ministry of Transport after representations regarding the railway situation in the town.

The ministry say they consider it inappropriate to comment on the passenger service proposals as the report of the Transport Users Consultative Committee is at present before the Minister.


It looks, therefore, that there is no way of reprieve for the freight service to Haverhill, which will in future be dealt with at Cambridge by lorries.

Parcels for the town will be distributed from the railway station for a period, until British Rail have arranged to have a collecting agent in Haverhill.

11 August 1966