From the 'Suffolk Free Press' of 4 April 1963


Prompt action by Haverhill Council

Three hours after the announcement of proposals to withdraw passenger services from the Shelford - Marks Tey line, there were sharp reactions at Haverhill, which stands to lose its only rail link.

The Urban District Council sent a telegram to Dr Beeching stating: 'The London overspill town of Haverhill protests most strongly at proposals to sever its rail link with London'. The wire was signed by Mr William Blake, the Town Clerk.

Mr Blake said the news of the proposals had 'staggered' him.

Mr W. A. G. Suddaby, the Eastern Area Traffic Manager, said at a Press Conference, that the Shelford - Marks Tey line would be given priority for a financial review. This would be put to the T. U. C. C. and after a public inquiry, would be submitted to the Minister of Transport.

It was possible the closure proposals could come into operation by the end of the year. This would mean the end for 13 stations although the freight services are to be maintained, and possibly improved.

Another blow to Haverhill is the withdrawal of the passenger services from the Bartlow to Audley End line.

A statement by Haverhill Council said:

Haverhill is being planned to expand to a population of over 18,000. This is not just a pipe dream. The expansion is actually being carried out under an agreement between the Haverhill Council and the L. C. C. with the approval of the ministry. For any town with 18,000 people to have no railway link is unthinkable.

For a town being expanded by 10,000 people and industry from London it is absolutely essential for close links with London to be maintained, and if Haverhill is deprived of its rail connection with the metropolis, it may well have a disastrous effect on the town expansion scheme.

The council will certainly make the strongest possible representations against the implementation of that part of Dr Beeching's proposals which affect Haverhill.

Mr Geoffrey Boardman, Vice-President of Haverhill Chamber of Commerce said he did not think the closure of the railway branch would constitute a major disaster but psychologically it would have an adverse effect on firms contemplating on moving to the town expansion.

A railway service has become accepted as a legitimate amenity and it was hoped that nationalisation would spread the profit and losses to maintain it in that way. It is the threat to one of our established amenities which we deplore. One cannot blame Dr Beeching for doing the job he is paid to do. It is his terms of reference to make all lines pay that I disagree with.


The news was received with 'dismay' by the clerk of Clare R. D. C. Mr John Alpress, who said about half of the villages in the Clare district would be affected by the closures of the Haverhill, Sturmer, Stoke, Clare and Cavendish stations. Mr Alpress said the withdrawal of passenger services would bring hardship to many people as alternative bus services were not always convenient.

Mr Fredrick Pues, Chairman of the Manufacturers' Section of Haverhill Chamber of Commerce said: "My first reaction on having been asked to comment on the recommendation of Dr Beeching is one of great concern - although not perhaps of surprise. Naturally one cannot give any real opinion until the full details of the closure and alternative means of transport are known. But in any case I feel it will be a blow to the town and the expansion scheme. When the matter is taken up officially the town will have the full co-operation of our section".