Goods Trains Serving The Epsom and Ewell Area, July 1926

Part Three: A Detailed Look At Services At Each Location On The Central Section

Links to Part 1 and Part 2.

C3 locomotive, Number 304
Another C3 locomotive, Number 304, heading for New Cross Gate in 1924.
Photograph from the JRW Kirkby Collection,
courtesy Capital Transport Publishing.

Ewell East Goods Yard

Ewell East Station and Goods Yard.
Ewell East Station and Goods Yard.
Click on map to enlarge, opens in separate window.

This was the lesser of the two Ewells for both passengers and freight. The goods facilities consisted of a reception siding on the up side leading to two sidings in a yard alongside the station. One of these served a small goods shed which is still in place today, although used for other purposes.

Ewell East Goods Shed and Yard still exist
Ewell East Goods Shed and Yard still exist; the up platform
can be seen to the left. Photo by Nick Winfield

The only trains to access the yard were the 1020 Sutton to Ewell East Goods arriving at 1152, which deposited wagons from the London direction. It also conveyed London bound deliveries from Cheam, the previous stop, to be attached to the 0640 Dorking North to Norwood Junction; this called between 1213 to 1251 (Saturdays Only) or 1320 to 1405 (Mondays to Fridays) with deliveries from Epsom and beyond; it would also take away wagons from Ewell East. The absence of a second crossover between the main lines meant that the first locomotive, arriving on the down line, was unable to run round its train to take it away in the up direction; it was stuck at the western end. Instead, it would assist the second train with shunting before returning to Norwood Junction on its own.

Seven other goods trains ran through the station without stopping.

The sun sets on Ewell East Yard one year before closure in 1960
The sun sets on Ewell East Yard one year before closure in 1960.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Epsom Town

Epsom Town Station from the east in 1928
Epsom Town Station from the east in 1928.
A Class B1 Locomotive No. 174 heads a London bound
service past the goods yard on the left and locomotive
depot on the right.
Photo by HC Casserley, courtesy of Richard Casserley.

Epsom Town Station and Goods Yard.
Epsom Town Station and Goods Yard.
Click on map to enlarge, opens in separate window.

This was the main goods station for Epsom and was situated in the Upper High Street, then known as 'Station Road'. Within the station area was a goods shed, horse dock, cattle dock and a small locomotive shed, which in itself required a coal stockpile to be maintained for its locomotives - this was provided by the Southern's regular suppliers, Messrs Stephenson, Clarke and Company based in Aberdare, Wales.

Epsom Town Locomotive Shed on 24 May 1926 with a D1 Class
Epsom Town Locomotive Shed on 24 May 1926 with a D1 Class
locomotive No. 612.
Photograph by HC Casserley courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Two private sidings were situated to the east, on the other side of Church Road Bridge as shown on the map below:

The two private sidings east of Epsom Town station.
The two private sidings east of Epsom Town station.
Click on map to enlarge, opens in separate window.

On the up side was a siding serving Nonsuch Brickworks, which was owned by Stone & Company. This was about to cease production in September following the recent construction of their second siding, connecting Epsom Brickworks to the rail network south of Ewell West (see above). The site of the brickworks is now a residential area.

The short overlap between the Ewell West siding opening and this one shutting is the reason I have chosen this particular period to review.

Copy of a Hall & Co delivery note
Copy of a Hall & Co delivery note for
coke for the Parish Church.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum.

The other siding was on the down side and was one of eight owned by builders merchants Hall & Co. Ltd, whose premises were in nearby Mill Road. This site is now occupied by timber merchants.

Passenger services on this line were still steam-hauled but the station would shut to passengers three years later once Epsom (LSWR) had been rebuilt to serve both lines. This was followed by electrification of the route and as a consequence the locomotive shed would also shut; the site was then used by Longhurst & Son's Builders' Merchants.

Horsebox wagons were attached to trains to and from London Victoria and London Bridge, the latter also providing transfer to trains serving the rest of the UK. In the opposite direction, they were also regularly attached to trains to Horsham and Portsmouth. A short dock siding was used for this, with trains conveying multiple horseboxes using the larger facilities available at Epsom LSWR.

On Mondays to Saturdays milk churns were conveyed in vans attached to three passenger services from Horsham. These vans had been detached from connecting trains serving farms on the Chichester line, as well as the now closed Guildford to Shoreham line. The churns were unloaded on the platform, although one train also detached a van during its stop. On Sundays, some deliveries came from the Midhurst and Hailsham lines, both of which have also now closed, the latter connecting with services from Norwood Junction.

Four of the eight goods train passing through stopped as follows, using a third line parallel to the main line to avoid obstructing other services:
  • 0038 - 0051 (2320 Horsham to Willow Walk). This called if required to attach general wagons for Willow Walk.

  • 0448 - 0515 (0415 Norwood Junction to Dorking North). This deposited wagons from the rest of the UK, especially coal and often included cattle from the London & North Eastern Railway via New Cross Gate, from the London Midland & Scottish Railway via Willesden Junction and from the Great Western via Old Oak Common.

  • 0904 - 1315 (Mondays to Fridays) or 0904 - 1208 (Saturdays Only) (0640 Dorking North to Norwood Junction). As well as detaching wagons from Dorking, this train would attach wagons for Ewell East, Wallington, Norwood Junction and beyond. The locomotive also performed other shunting duties, serving Hall & Company's Siding (which received an average of five wagons per day) and Nonsuch Brickworks (which received an average of twelve wagons per day).

  • 2248 - 2258 (2003 New Cross Gate to Horsham): Stopped to detach wagons from New Cross Gate and Norwood Junction and attach wagons for Leatherhead, Dorking, Horsham and beyond.

Services dwindled and Epsom Town goods yard, the last in the area, finally closed in 1965.

The following photographs are of Bob Cummings's fine model of Epsom Town in the late 1920s and are copyright of the Scalefour Society:

General view taken from the west
This is the general view taken from the west.
In the foreground is the down platform, with the
up platform on the left and goods yard in the
distance on the right. Photo by Rod Cameron

The Cattle Pen and Horse Dock
The Cattle Pen and Horse Dock are in the foreground
with the staggered passenger platforms behind.
Photo by David Dornom

An E2 Class Locomotive performs shunting duties
An E2 Class Locomotive performs shunting duties.
The original 'Thomas The Tank Engine' was allegedly
based on this design. Photo by Anthony Hubbard

The signal box takes centre stage
The signal box takes centre stage with the
goods shed behind. Photo by David Dornom

The Coal Sidings with Church Road behind
The Coal Sidings with Church Road behind.
Photo by Anthony Hubbard

Epsom Downs

Plan of the original Epsom Downs
Plan of the original Epsom Downs showing the position of
the current station and Wallace's Siding.
Click on map to enlarge, opens in seperate window.

Originally situated 300 metres further west and boasting nine platforms for the benefit of race goers on only six days a year, Epsom Downs is at the end of a short branch from Sutton and most deliveries would be bound for the intermediate stations at Belmont and Banstead, just outside our area. It did not warrant its own goods yard so the few deliveries were easily dealt with from one of the many platforms. This train was able to run in daylight hours due to the comparative lack of passenger traffic.

Class E4 locomotive No. B563 arrives at Epsom Downs
Class E4 locomotive No. B563 arrives at Epsom Downs
with the 0935 from Norwood Junction. In December 1930.
Photo by Dr I.C.Allen

There was also a private siding on the up side called 'Wallace's Siding' serving Longdown Farm and named after the owner. The points and signals to this siding were under the control of Epsom Downs Signal Box.

Just east of Drift Bridge was a further siding on the up side owned by the Kensington & Chelsea School District's Banstead Cottage Home, later known as 'Beechholme'. It had originally been built to serve North Looe Farm and was still known as 'Gadesden's Siding' after the farm's owner, the ubiquitous Augustus Gadesden. This was used for deliveries from their working farm and was accessed by points controlled from a ground frame operated by an Annett's Key from the signal box. A station porter would ride with the train to return the key after use. The school also had a main siding near Banstead.

Gadesden's Siding' east of Epsom Downs
'Gadesden's Siding' east of Epsom Downs.
Click on map to enlarge, opens in separate window.

Serving the branch was the 0935 Norwood Junction to Epsom Downs, which arrived at 1326 (Saturdays Only) or 1412 (Mondays to Fridays). This included a road box wagon for small deliveries made on the platform, a wagon of railway stores plus an average of two loaded wagons for Wallace's Siding. There were occasional cattle wagons plus empty wagons for loading from Gadesden's Siding when required, although the amount of this traffic was described as 'very small', being less than two wagons per month.

This returned as the 1421 (Saturdays Only) or 1522 (Mondays to Fridays) to Norwood Junction.

Tattenham Corner

Tattenham Corner from the air in 1928.
Tattenham Corner from the air in 1928.

Situated on the end of a branch from Purley and a short trot from the racecourse, Tattenham Corner would receive entire trains of horsebox specials; a large stable on the west side of the station was built for this purpose. Passenger services were normally reserved for race days, with trains otherwise terminating at Tadworth, the previous stop. Following electrification two years later, all passenger trains would be extended to Tattenham Corner. It became the preferred destination for the Royal Train until 1994 when One decided to take her motor instead.

An entire train of horseboxes can be seen is in the background
An entire train of horseboxes can be seen is in the background.
Image courtesy of Lens Of Sutton Association

Like Epsom Downs, a dedicated goods yard was not thought worthwhile and the platforms adequate for handling all consignments. Freight was restricted to one through train departing Bricklayers Arms at 0537, which arrived at Tattenham Corner at 1115. It returned to Purley at 1138 and again mainly served the other stations on the branch. This ran until 1962.

Since Then....

The transportation of goods by rail was slow. The average time between loadings was twelve working days and the average transit time up to two days. Whilst there were great differences between individual examples hidden by these averages, they did indicate an uncompetitive service compared to transit by road which could be achieved within the same day. The speed of the journeys also meant an enormous fleet had to be maintained, but poorly utilised.

Apart from petrol-driven motor lorries increasing in size and performance, they could pick and choose what they carried as they were not governed by the same 'common carriers' legislation. A road haulier could offer to carry a high value cargo at a lower cost than the railway, leaving the railway to haul back the lower value empty wagons. The Transport Act of 1953 substantially altered the legislation relating to 'common carriers' by which time the railways had been nationalised and were now able to refuse less profitable cargo. The Beeching report pointed out the inefficiencies of the wagon-led system and introduced the concept of a higher speed containerised set-up from ports to factory. Sundries traffic was transferred to National Freight Carriers in 1964 and the railways pulled out of this business completely in 1968. Railway parcels traffic was carried until 1981, after that, the Red Star parcels service was operated for some years as a franchise from selected stations.

The roads are now so congested that I can walk from Ewell to Epsom during the rush hour quicker than the bus. The industries formerly served by private sidings have long since gone. Demand for domestic coal has dropped significantly.

Needless to say all the depots, goods yards and private sidings described have now shut, although much of the former yard at Norwood Junction is now used by Selhurst Passenger Train Depot and the former goods shed at Ewell East still exists. The only Station Master's house still in existence is at Ewell West, but now in private hands. The down side buildings of the former Epsom Town station can still be detected, hidden behind modern premises in the Upper High Street. Otherwise, car parks have generally been built over the yards and at the time of writing Epsom station has just been redeveloped into a miniature Milton Keynes.

I'm sure there's a station in there somewhere - but I'm also sure that lorries are on our roads everywhere.

A Reg Morris Postcard believed to be from the 1930s
A Reg Morris Postcard believed to be from the 1930s.
Thanks to Celia Smith

Nick Winfield May 2013

The author welcomes any feedback, observations and corrections via the Webmaster.

Thanks To

Jeremy Harte, Curator, Bourne Hall Museum, Ewell
Peter Reed and Hazel Ballan, Epsom and Ewell Local and Family History Centre
David Rymill, author of 'Worcester Park and Cuddington: A Walk through the Centuries' and 'Worcester Park, Old Malden and North Cheam: History at our Feet'

External Links
More pictures of Bob Cumming's model of Epsom Town can be found on the Scalefour Society website. A short film of the layout also appears on Youtube.
A video of Brian Angus's model of Ewell West by Mike Jarman appears on Vimeo
Robert Carroll's Flickr photostream includes more pictures around Worcester Park
John Ball, who kindly provided the picture of his Grandpa with the milk churns, has his own family web page.
More information on Kensington & Chelsea School District's Banstead Cottage Home, later known as 'Beechholme' can be found at The Workhouse
As indicated, some photos used in this article are courtesy of the Lens Of Sutton Association. More information can be found on the Warwickshire Railways website
David Rymill's books on Worcester Park are available from Buckwheat Press
For more information on George Pryer's Diagrams, contact the Signalling Record Society


Every effort has been made to track down the source and copyright holder of each image. Should anyone object to any of the images appearing in this article, please contact the Webmaster

Links to Part 1 and Part 2.

HV Usill
HV Usill
Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page
Page Family
Page Family
TH Snow
TH Snow
JA Larby
JA Larby
J Harrison
J Harrison
Nonsuch Mansion
Nonsuch Mansion
New Stables
New Stables