Dengie Hundred Branch

Fictitious history

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History in 1889 the Great Eastern Railway planned to extend the ‘New Essex’ Branch (Wickford - Southminster) from Southminster to Bradwell Malting. There were other plans up to the mid 1920's to build railways or light railways from Southend to Colchester via Southminster and Bradwell while other companies proposed railways and light railways from Southminster to Bradwell (see Branch Line to Southminster by Dennis L. Swindale). Unfortunately none of the plans were bought to fruition. However it has been possible to do so in model form as the Dengie Hundred Branch.

The Dengie Hundred Branch would have run from six and a half miles from Southminster to Bradwell Waterside via Asheldham, Dengie, Tillingham, and Bradwell on Sea. With a halt at Bradwell on Sea called to avoid confusion Orplands Halt. It was proposed to build a pier at Bradwell Waterside were the goods facilities for Bradwell would have been concentrated. In East Anglia quays and piers were seen as a major source of traffic and were a lure to railway promoters - in practise such facilities rarely lived up to expectation as railway replaced much of the barge traffic. Like the nearby Maldon Branch the Branch was built on the cheap and had to make do with wooden trestle bridges. The Great Eastern Railway was a constituent of London North Eastern Railway who in turn merged in to British Railways. The Dengie Hundred Branch had become a minor Eastern Region branch. British Railways has invested in the Branch including modernised the passenger service by introducing a railbus.

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Traffic passenger traffic would be light as the population served would have been 2,500-3,000 when the railway was built and about 500 less by the 1960’s. The current bus service is 8 round trips a day and a school bus in term times with 4 round trips and the school bus running to/from Burnham on Crouch.  I feel the railbus could do better with 10 round trips daily between Bardwell Waterside and Southminster with some extending to Burnham on Crouch. The service would have been roughly hourly with gaps morning and afternoons for much more valuable goods trains. Till 1979 sand and gravel were a major source of traffic at Southminster with in 1965 175,000 tons being shipped from private sidings to London. There are sandpits round Asheldham and Tillingham so private siding serving them would have been a possibility. The pits produce - Sand – sharp, soft washed, pit, & building; Gravel - 10mm & 20mm; Ballast - 10mm & 20mm; Screened Soil as raised hogging; and Rejects. Agriculture is important dairying round Bradwell & Dengie and grain & pulses round Asheldham & Tillingham. Production of grain & pulses was about a million and a half tons in 1979. There is a large agricultural co-operative at Asheldham that would have rated a private siding. The building and operation of Royal Air Force Bradwell Bay built in 1940 and closed 1946 would have bought traffic onto the Branch. The branch would have seen civil engineering traffic and possibly workmen’s trains 1957-62 during the construction of the Bradwell nuclear power station. The station started fuelling in 1961 and from then on nuclear flask trains would have run.

Asheldham

Population 180 (1961)

Peak population 219 (1841)

Halt

Farming - grain

Private siding G&B Finch Ltd. Asheldham Quarry sand and gravel pit (see above). Not on layout.

Dengie

Population 117 (1961)

Peak population 312 (1851)

Single platform station with goods siding.

Farming – dairy

Private siding Dengie Crops Ltd.

Tillingham

Population 764 (1961)

Peak population 1,048 (1851)

Single platform station with passing loop, block post, and goods siding.

The loop is used to expedite the goods trains and can be switched out.

Farming - grain

Private siding Richard Dewick Curry Farm Quarry sand and gravel pit (see above).

Bradwell on sea

Population 1,116 (1961)

Peak population 1,143 (1851)

Orplands

Bradwell Village

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Halt

Farming – dairy

Private siding Flair Ltd. Waterside Quarry sand and gravel pit (see above).

Bradwell

Bradwell Quay/Bradwell Maltings

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Single platform station with loop, block post, and goods siding.

Farming – dairy

Siding to Quay - out of use post war?

Private siding Royal Air Force Bradwell Bay later Bradwell nuclear power station.

Some villages North and East of the Branch such as Steeple & St. Lawrence make use of the line

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dengie & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dengie_peninsula

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In steam days passenger services would have been operated by the classes F5 (1884-1958), J69 (1890-1962) and J15 (1883-1962). The J15 could also haul the goods trains and if any existed mixed trains. Hornby produce the J15 but there are no ready to run 00 F5s or J69.

In diesel days a railbus (1958-67) could handle the light passenger traffic with a classes 04/D2200 (1952-71) and 15/D8200 (1957-71) operating the goods service. Ready to run 00 models of the railbus and class 15 are produced by Heljan and a model of the class 04 was produced by Bachmann.

The Maldon Branch passenger service was operated by a railbus and at times a diesel multiple unit. The Dengie Hundred Branch served a population half to a third of the Maldon Branch suggesting a railbus could handle the regular passenger traffic. In the 1960's. Specials and workmen’s trains could use Bachmann's British Railway repaints of LNER teak coaches.

Sand, gravel and coal could be handled by sixteen ton mineral wagons. Bagged grain and feed could be travel in vans. Bulk grain hoppers are possible and operated on the Derwent Valley Light Railway 1955-81. Bachmann are producing a FNA nuclear flask wagon but this didn’t come into service till 1970. There would have been small amounts of general goods traffic bring a range of other goods wagons onto the Branch.

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