The Epping Ongar Railway (EOR) is, I am very pleased to say, one of my local railways and a very delightful line. It runs from a terminus at Ongar to North Weald and from North Weald on into Epping Forest stopping just short of Epping Station. Plans are afoot to extend the line into Epping station thereby joining the line to the London tube network. Historically speaking Ongar was once the very further most point of the London tube network and so this would be a very fitting connection.
In April 2015 the railway celebrated its 150 year anniversary with a two day event including visiting locomotives. It was, as usual, a well organised and well run event and being just down the road from me ‘a must’ to visit. Before we go on to look at the locomotives at the event, let’s have a brief look at the stations along the line.
The pictures were taken over a number of different visits and not just just on the EOR 150th event.
Chipping Ongar station, mostly shortened to Ongar since the arrival of the railway, is the Northern terminus of the line and indeed always was. Although built as a through station with the intention of extending the line further into Essex, Ongar is where the project ran out of steam (bad pun intended). One thing that made this station particularly interesting is that at the eastern end of the station beyond the platform there was originally a turntable large enough to handle the small locomotives this line used.
No longer an active station but a very sympathetically restored private residence. These two pictures were taken from a road bridge over the line, which shows the station house peaking teasingly through the under growth, and from a carriage window as the train passed.
This is now the Southern terminus and a very pretty station and location it is being on the edge of town adjacent to both the countryside and the edge of Epping Forest. One hazard to engine drivers are deer rushing out of the forest across the line in front of a train.
All Ongar trains terminate here, but you can catch another train that runs out and back into Epping Forest. The train gets close enough to Epping station that if you happen to be in the cab you can see it quite clearly.
Locomotives in Steam
Four locomotives were in steam for the event:
- 0-6-0 J72 running number 69023 “Joem”
- 0-4-0 Y7 Class running number 985 LNER (H Class if NER)
- 2-6-2 GWR Large Prairie Tank running number 4141
- 0-6-2 Class N2 GNR running number 1744
- BR Class 03 03119 (originally D2119)
this is quite easy as I never ventured off the station. There are other locations available along the line mostly either from bridges that pass over the line or public foot paths that cross the line. Of course if using the latter one must always stay off railway property and stand far enough back for safety requirements!
So the locations I used were:
- Location 1 – Ongar Station.
- Location 2 – North Weald Station.
Ordnance Survey grid references are hardly necessary but for those wanting to venture a little further afield than the stations I would recommend Ordnance Survey map 167 Chelmsford, Harlow & bishop’s Stortford.
Want to learn more, well there is plenty of information available about the EOR. To start with the rail has a splendid information leaflet for the visitor, which has been updated to include a 2017 time table. For those that want a longer read and a good quality publication full of colour pictures there is also a guide book produced by the railway.
Two of my favourite references are the DVDs shown below, I purchased both from the station shop at Ongar. Both are crammed with great images of the railway in action supported by informed commentary.
As for books the enthusiastic traveller can do no better than to pick up a copy of Branch Line to Ongar by J E Connor (Middleton Press ISBN 978 1 906008 05 5). Also of interest is Lost Railways of Essex by Robin Jones (Countryside Books ISBN 978 1 84674 111 1) which gives an excellent short summary of the line and its history with the added bonus of covering the other, now sadly mostly long gone, railways in Essex.
“What’s up Bob…?”
“Well the show is over and they are making me go home to the wife… but I just want to stay and play trains!”
So far as the EOR is concerned I admit to being completely bias. Being local to me I drove past the station at Ongar many, many times over many years and watched the railway struggle to be reborn. Finally that has happened and in no time it has grown into a real gem of a railway… Well done the EOR and I look forward to many more happy days riding the line and photographing the trains!