|The earliest form of public transport in Walthamstow was the
Stage Coach. In 1707, a Walthamstow resident,
John Gibson, ran a coach service from Walthamstow (probably from Marsh Street),
to Leyton. It is thought that Gibson sold the business to a Joseph Schooling
in 1758, and was probably sold again to Frances Wragg in 1759. Four generations
of the Wragg family ran the business, and from 1764 to 1870 they provided
the residents of Walthamstow with the means to get to the City. So, in 1836,
a resident wishing to travel would have gone to Robert Wragg's coach office
near the Chequers in Marsh Street (High Street) and booked a seat on one
of his yellow 'short-stage' coaches. Departures were from the Nag's Head
at Church End eight times a day (18 passengers maximum), and the route lay
through Marsh Street, Markhouse Lane (Markhouse Road), Lea Bridge Road and
on to the Royal Exchange in the City.
During the latter period of this time in 1840, the Northern & Eastern Railway had proposed to cut right through Leyton and Walthamstow marshes with a line from the Great Eastern Railway (G.E.R.) at Stratford to Cambridge. The line opened on 15th September 1840 but, due to lack of funds, only as far as Broxbourne. The final section was built in stages and ended at Bishops Stortford 16th May 1842. And that is as far as it reached at this time.
The distance between the insides of the running rails is known as the "gauge". The standard gauge of railways in Britain was, and still is 4 feet 8½ inches. However the Great Western had other ideas and Brunnell decided on a Gauge of 7 feet and 0¼ inches.
The reason I mention this is because, the Northern & Eastern Railway
decided on a gauge of 5 feet. But it was soon realised that to be able
to link onto other railway systems around the country, they would have
to convert to standard gauge. Work started on 5th September 1844 and was
completed on 7th October of the same year. Just over 1 month!! It is worth
bearing in mind that all the carriages, wagons and locomotives all had
to be converted to fit the new gauge. This was all achieved without disruption
to the service.
The Great Western, however, hung on to their 7 foot gauge until the Government ordered them to change, and so it was not until May 1892 the Great Western had finally converted to standard gauge.
There are three railway systems serving Walthamstow.