From the 'East Anglian Daily Times' of 25 and 26 January 1966 and the 'Haverhill Echo' of 26 January and 2 February 1967



New figure of 52,000 for estimated loss

A 52,000 bombshell will today be dropped on the Stour Valley railway line subsidy discussions. This is the new figure quoted by British Railways as the loss on the line if the 'ingenious and economical' timetable drawn up by Mr Charles Douglas-Brown were put into operation.

Originally it was estimated by Mr G. F. Fiennes, General Manager of the Eastern Region, that the line would lose 26,000 annually if Mr Douglas-Brown's plans were put into operation.

However since the first rough estimate, British Railways has made a careful study of the 50 mile line from Marks Tey to Cambridge and has found the line will lose 52,000 'due to the poor condition of the track', according to their press department.

A number of local authorities will today be meeting Mr Fiennes in London to discuss in detail the financial implications of subsidising this line. A statement will be issued after the meeting.

None of the local authorities concerned was prepared to comment on the new figure of 52,000 before meeting Mr Fiennes today. Chief financial officers of West Suffolk County Council, Haverhill Urban Council and Melford Rural Council will be at the meeting.

All other local authorities served by the line, including Sudbury Borough Council, Clare and Halstead Rural Councils and Cambridge City, have failed to show enthusiasm in the subsidy idea.

The Minister of Transport has already agreed that the Marks Tey to Sudbury section of the line should be retained. The Sudbury-Haverhill-Cambridge section is due to close on March 6.

British Railways require a quick reply from the local councils as to whether they are to provide a subsidy, and West Suffolk County Council has called a special finance meeting on February 6 and a special full council meeting on February 13 in order to give a decision.

25 January 1967




Councils to reply by mid-February

During the next three weeks West Suffolk Council, Haverhill U.D.C. And Meldord R.D.C. are to decide whether they can offer British Railways a subsidy to help maintain a passenger-train service on the Stour Valley line between Shelford (Cambs) and Marks Tey (Essex) via Haverhill and Sudbury.

This was the outcome of a meeting in London yesterday between British Railways officials and representatives of the three local authorities. They discussed a plan drawn up by Mr Charles Douglas-Brown for maintaining a passenger service on the line which British Railways say would lose 52,000 a year.

The section of the Stour Valley line between Sudbury and Shelford is due to close on March 6 unless terms can be agreed for keeping it open. The Sudbury to Marks Tey section is to be retained by decision of the Minister of Transport following a public inquiry in 1965.

British Railways executives were closely questioned yesterday on the revised estimated subsidy they claim they need to keep open the line.

Prior to the meeting it had been stated that the 50 mile stretch of line would lose 52,000 due to the poor condition of the track.

Previously a rough estimate of the annual loss had been half that figure.

A statement issued last night by the London area head office of British Railways said: 'A meeting was held at Liverpool Street today when Mr H. W. Few, Assistant General Manager (London Area) Eastern Region, and other railway officers met representatives of West Suffolk county Council, Haverhill U.D.C and Melford R.D.C.

'The financial case for keeping a passenger train service between Shelford and Marks Tey at a cost of 52,000 per annum was fully discussed.

'The meeting was in amicable circumstances and the local authority representatives have now to report the position to their respective finance committees.

'A decision on whether or not a guarantee can be given by the local authorities, which will enable a service to be maintained has been promised by mid-February'.

Haverhill Urban Council is expected to give second thoughts to its efforts to stop the axe from falling on the Shelford-Sudbury section of the line now that British Railways have quoted 52,000 as the bill local authorities would have to meet to cover annual losses.

Haverhill council was the first to take up the idea of local authorities subsidising the line.

Mr William Blake, Haverhill's Town Clerk, who was at the discussion, said last night he would be giving a report to his council next Monday. He said he could not prejudge his council's action, but undoubtedly the new figure of 52,000 compared with an original estimate of 26,000 had put the matter in a much different light.

If the subsidy bid is dropped, as seems likely, the line is scheduled to close on March 6 and Haverhill will lose its rail link.

26 January 1967



Rail subsidy shock kills hopes

British Rail has produced a big shock for Haverhill and other local authorities fighting to save the Stour Valley line. The annual 26,000 originally mentioned as the subsidy that would be needed to cover loses has now doubled to 52,000.

The 26,000 figure was quoted by Mr. G. Fiennes, General Manager of the Eastern Region, as the sum thought necessary to cover losses if the Stour line was operated on lines suggested by Mr. Chas Douglas-Brown.

Yesterday it was announced that, due to the 'poor condition of the track', it would need a 52,000 subsidy from local authorities to keep the Marks Tey to Shelford line going.

Haverhill and West Suffolk Councils, two of the few councils left in the battle to save the line, were represented yesterday at London talks with Mr. Fiennes, when detailed discussions were due to take place on the financial aspect.

No one would comment earlier on the possible outcome, but it seems doubtful that the subsidy idea will be pursued now that the figure has doubled. The line is due to close on March 6.

26 January 1967



Council abandon bid to preserve town's rail link

It now seems certain that Haverhill will lose its rail link on March 6. The end of the line has been reached in the fight to prevent the closure of the Shelford to Sudbury section of the Stour Valley line.

British Rail's revised figures of 52,000 to cover annual losses, has proved a crippling blow to the hopes of local authorities who were considering the possibility of raising a subsidy.

Haverhill Urban District Council on Monday night decided to take no further action. West Suffolk County Council will be urged to take a similar course when they meet to discuss the subject in a fortnight's time.

The council is writing to tell British Rail of their decision and copies will be sent to West Suffolk and Melford Councils, who were also represented at last week's talks, when British Rail dropped the 52,000 bombshell.

Originally the subsidy was estimated at 26,000, Mr. W. C. Blake, the Town Clerk reported. He said the reason for the doubling of the figure was that the track had been found to be in poor condition and substantial repairs would be necessary.

British Rail had put the repairs figure at 22,000 for the next ten years, bringing annual expenses to 107,000 for running the line as a whole.

BR refusals

The Council were also told British Rail would not consider the suggested re-opening of the Bartlow/Audley End branch line as part of the present enquiry. Neither would they agree to re-starting a parcels service as all stations would be unstaffed.

There were no assurances either for Sunday 'specials' to Clacton and British Rail were insisting on a five-year guarantee to cover the net deficiency, with no promise to local authorities should the line eventually prove viable.

"Even if we agreed to these terms, I feel that British Rail would find something else," the Council Chairman, Ald. R. C. Poole, declared. "Not only had the estimated losses been doubled, but all the council's suggestions were being flatly refused", he said.

"They are absolutely determined to close the line" said Ald. Poole. He said he would be proposing the same action as they were taking when he attended the County Finance Committee's discussions on the matter.

"I went along with this at the start, thinking that for a 2d rate for about two years we might be making a worthwhile effort. But now, with this new figure plus a five year guarantee, I think it is out of the question".

End of the line

Mr. F. H. Fuller said they were right in pursuing it but now, metaphorically, they had reached the 'end of the line'.

Saying he had thought a 26,000 subsidy was rather a pious hope, Mr. A. W. Basham added that, though they all regretted seeing the rail link go, they could not possibly burden ratepayers to that extent.

Mr. H. J. Eves said they heard British Rail talk in two different languages. They had taken Mr. G. Fiennes, the Manager of Eastern Region at his word. Now the 'revised' figures had been brought up and it would be dangerous folly for them, as a Council, to dispute the cost of track maintenance said to be necessary.

Bus services

The Council will be represented at a Traffic Commissioners hearing at Cambridge on March 3, when proposed alternative bus services to take the place of the Stour Valley line will be applied for. The Council has objected to an application for Road Service Licences and Backings.

  • This week two Haverhill Signalmen, Mr. Ted Basham and Mr. Charlie Chase who have both worked on the railways for about 40 years had their redundancy notices, taking effect in six weeks time.

2 February 1967


21 will lose jobs when railway closes

Twenty-one people will be thrown out of work by the closure of the Stour Valley railway between Shelford and Sudbury, now virtually certain on March 6.

Last week's decision by Haverhill Council not to pursue the possibility of saving the line by a 52,000 subsidy, plus other unacceptable guarantees, means the last passenger train will run through Haverhill in just over three weeks' time.

Of the 21 redundant railwaymen, three - two signalmen and a porter - are at Haverhill.

They are Mr. Horace Eves, a town councillor, Mr. Charlie Chase and Mr. Ted Basham, all of whom have 40 or more years service with the railways.

Other staff not required will include two signalmen and two crossing keepers at Long Melford, two crossing keepers at Glemsford, a signalman at Cavendish and a crossing keeper at Sturmer.

The notices take effect on March 18.


The Traffic Commissioners have brought forward the date for the hearing of applications to run the additional and alternative bus services when the Stour Valley line closes.

The original date was March 3 - three days before the closure - but now it has been advanced to February 15.

Haverhill Council are objecting to the proposed bus services on the advice of the Transport Sub-Committee, as it is felt they will be inadequate.

9 February 1967