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British Industrial History

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Stratford Works

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Stratford Works was the location of the Eastern Counties Railway's railway works

Locomotive related activity started on the site, which lies between the main Liverpool Street – Norwich line and Stratford – Cambridge line adjacent to Stratford Railway Station.

1840 Initially the engine shed (most of which doubled as a works facility initially) was opened by the Northern and Eastern Railway.

1844 This railway was leased by the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR) and in 1847 the ECR started to re-locate activity form its constrained Romford facility to Stratford.

As the Eastern Counties Railway grew so did activity in the works and the works site was extended northwards.

In 1862 the ECR was one of several East Anglian railway companies merged to become the Great Eastern Railway (GER) and it was they who took over operation of the works.

In the 1870s the site was becoming too busy to cope with the work and new locomotive sheds were built on the opposite side of the line.

Between 1870 and 1900 around 960 engines were built at Stratford including a Class Y14 0-6-0 locomotive which was built in a record breaking 9 hours 47 minutes (see 1891 entry below).

1891 'They have just made a record at the Stratford Works of the Great Eastern Railway, where a six-wheel coupled engine and tender have been built in ten working hours. The order was begun at nine on Thursday morning, and at 9.15 a.m. on Friday the engine and tender were turned out in running order. Allowing for the night's rest, the actual time was within a working-day of ten hours. The best similar performance hitherto was by the London and North-Western Company, who erected an engine and tender in twenty-five hours. Of course the parts were all ready to put into their places; but even then it was a fine piece of craftsmanship, and deserved the lusty cheers that greeted the huge machine as it left the shop.'[1]

1896 Space continued to be at a premium with carriages being repainted elsewhere and wagon repairs were moved to a new wagon works at nearby Temple Mills.

1906 Built twelve motor buses with 30hp Panhard engines[2]

WWI saw the works engaged on munitions work and converting passenger stock to ambulance trains. The war also saw the opening of a new locomotive shop adjacent to the running sheds (incidentally the largest on the GER).

1920s Additional carriage maintenance facilities were built but following the Grouping Act of 1921 locomotive building ended in 1923 after the works had been taken over by the London and North Eastern Railway. Around 6,500 people were employed in the works at this time.

WWII saw munitions work again undertaken and the works was hit by bombs during the London Blitz.

1948 Following nationalisation of the works British Railways took over operation

1963 The majority of the works was closed. The new locomotive shop became a diesel repair shop and this lasted until 1991.

1983 The wagon works at Temple Mills closed.

1997 The adjacent engine shed lasted until 1997 when it was closed to make way for Stratford International station (which also occupied land where newer parts of the land existed). There is no physical evidence of the works or engine shed remaining and a shopping centre now occupies the site.

At Temple Mills commuter trains are still stabled and there is a Eurostar depot, but the site of the new works is now home to New Spitalfield Market.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Derby Mercury - Wednesday 16 December 1891
  2. .Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles. Edited by G. N. Georgano
  • [1] Wikipedia
  • The Engineer of 23rd April 1920 p430
  • Steam Engine Builders of Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire by Ronald H. Clark. Published 1950 by The Augustine Steward Press