The Chingford Line

Press "PLAY" to hear the sound of Locomotive Class N7 No. 69719 leaving St. James Street on its way to Hoe Street (Walthamstow Central) in October 1960.


Walthamstow, (unlike Chingford which was still a rural village), had a population of about 5000 made up mostly of wealthy businessmen who were commuting to London via the stage coach to Lea Bridge Station and then by the Northern and Eastern railway to the city.

In 1864 two proposed routes were put before parliament by the G.E.R. for a railway to Walthamstow. One was to branch from the Loughton branch at Leyton (now the Central Line Underground) through Leyton Green, Knotts Green, Shernhall Street, Highams Park, Chingford Green to High Beech on the edge of Epping Forest. It was intended to carry a "good class" of passenger and excursionists to and from the forest.

The other was a line from Bethnal Green to Hackney Downs which would diverge into two. One continuing northwards to Edmonton Green and on to Enfield Town. The other, veering north-east, to join the N&ER at Coppermill junction via Clapton. The line was also to extend across Walthamstow marshes to join the line from Leyton at a point near shernhall Street. This scheme was to be known as "Railway No.8"
Parliament had already insisted that the G.E.R. ran one 2d (two old pence) return train to the city to offset the destruction of working class homes in inner London. This angered a Mr. James Higham, who was one of the housing developers around Walthamstow, as he thought it would introduce the "wrong class" of people into Walthamstow.

So now we have two proposed lines into Walthamstow, each likely to attract a different type of housing.

However, in 1867, work began at the Walthamstow end of Railway No. 8, but was soon hampered by the insistence of the Parish Church Vestry that the G.E.R. should tunnel under the recreation ground (used by the National School in Walthamstow) between Vestry Road and East Avenue. Eventually, after much argument, a compromise was made in that the G.E.R. purchased land in Selbourn Road for a new recreation ground (this is where the present bus station is at Walthamstow Central) and a cutting was placed through the old ground. (Half of the original recreation ground is still in use today as tennis courts). This was finally given legal force in 1869.

By 1867 the earthworks had reached as far as St. James' Street. The spoil from the cuttings around the Vestry Road area was to be used to build the embankment across Walthamstow Marsh. But money was running out fast, and work stopped, leaving the embankment unfinished. The G.E.R. was then placed in the hands of the receivers.
For the next two years, these earthworks made a wonderful playground for the local children!

Due to the capital that local landowners had tied up in local housing developments in Walthamstow, financial help was offered to the G.E.R. and pressure was exerted on parliament to have the railway completed. The G.E.R., however was not so keen, and in 1869 they obtained authorisation to abandon the High Beech to Leyton line.

In 1870, it was the turn of parliament to put pressure on the railway company to complete a railway to Chingford Green. The terminus of which should be no further south than Bull Lane. (Now Kings Road).

Although this act didn't actually call for a railway to be completed (just the plans), the G.E.R. did complete a shuttle service by means of curve (now known as Hall Farm Curve) which made a connection between Lea Bridge Station and Railway No. 8 to a temporary teminus at Shernhall Street, the entrance to which was in Summit Road off of Orford Road. This was opened on 26th April 1870 under the guise of "Railway Under Construction" however without any parliamenary permission at all!




Chingford Station Highams Park & Hale End Station (Now Just Highams Park) Highams Park Level Crossing Nags Head Tunnel Wood Street Station Shernhall Street Station Hoe Street Station (Now Walthamstow Central) St. James Street Station Lea Bridge Station Hackney Downs Station Clapton Station Chingford Green Kings Road Bridge Simmons Lane overbridge Site of Chingford Hatch level crossing Vestry Road Overbridge Essex Road Bridge Underbridge Coppermill Junction Bridge over the River Lea Lea Bridge Junction Hall Farm Junction Clapton Junction Copper Mill Junction Lea Bridge Junction Clapton Junction Copper Mill Junction Temle Mills Marshalling Yard