The Fairlop Loop was a 6.5 mile (10 km) [ [http://www.cravensheritagetrains.co.uk/history.htm Cravens Heritage Trains - History] ] branch line of the
Great Eastern Railway(GER). It was opened to passenger traffic on 1 May 1903(though it had already opened to freight trains on 20 Aprilthat year)cite book |last=Connor|first=J E|title=Branch Line to Ongar|year=2007|publisher=Middleton Press|chapter=|pages=p. IV|isbn=978-1-906008-06-5] , and connected Woodfordon the Ongar Branch to Ilfordon the Main Line, along with an eastward freight-only connection (apart from excursions and empty stock transfers) to Seven Kings. Today it makes up the greater part of the Hainault Loop on London Underground's Central line, the remainder consisting of a 4.1 mile (6.6 km) [ [http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/corporate/modesoftransport/tube/linefacts/?line=central Transport for London - Central line facts] ] deep-level underground line (first opened on 14 December 1947) connecting Newbury Parkon the loop with Leytonstoneon the Ongar (now Epping) Branch.
The construction of the line was a speculative effort by the GER to foster suburban growth in
EdwardianIlford and Chigwell, thoughwith mixed results. For example, Hainault station had such little patronage that it was closed between 1908 and 1930. In 1923, with the Grouping of Britain's railways into "The Big Four", the loop passed into the ownership of the London and North Eastern Railway(LNER), who in 1936 added an additional station at Roding Valley to serve a new housing development. The majority of the route was transferred to the Central line of the then London Transport Executive(LTE) in stages during 1947-1948 as part of the War-delayed New Works Programme[ [http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~gsgleaves/london9.htm Electrifying London - The 1935-1940 New Works Programme] ] . The transfer involved fourth-rail electrification to replace the former steam traction, and also construction of a new deep-level line connecting Leytonstoneon the Ongar Branch with Newbury Parkon the loop, together with the severing of the connections between the latter station and Ilford and Seven Kings. First of these connections to go was the westward curve between Newbury Park Junction and Ilford Carriage Sidings Junction, as early as 30 November 1947. The other connection to Seven Kings West Junction was freight-only but endured until 19 March 1956. The whole triangular junction eventually disappeared under the expansion of Ilford Carriage Sheds which was complete by 1959cite book |last=Brennand|first=Dave|title=Ilford to Shenfield|year=2006|publisher=Middleton Press|chapter=|pages=p. 10|isbn=1-901706-97-4] . Freight trains operated by the newly nationalised British Railcontinued using the remaining loop (via Woodford as far as Newbury Park) until 4 October 1965cite book |last=Connor|first= J E|title=op.cit.|year=2007|publisher=|chapter=|pages=p. 115|isbn=] . A short turn-back siding was provided on the former track-bed south of Newbury Park, which (once freight trains were withdrawn) was used by engineers' trains until 1992cite book |last=Connor|first=J E|title=op. cit.|year=2007|publisher=|chapter=|pages=p. 117|isbn=] .
Woodford to Ilford
From its inception, the Loop was double tracked, and all six original stations were provided with two 600 ft (183 m) platforms, though the 1936 station at Roding Valley was built with 500 ft (152 m) platforms. Due to rebuilding associated with the construction of the nearby depot, when Hainault station re-opened in 1948 it was provided with a third platformcite book |last=Connor|first=J E|title=op. cit.|year=2007|publisher=|chapter=|pages=p. 101|] , today used by terminating Central line trains in either direction. At the northern end, a simple fork at Woodford Junction enabled trains to leave/join the Ongar Branch, whilst at the southern end, a triangular junction was provided for access to the Main Line, the site now occupied by Ilford Carriage Sheds and a Maintenance Depot now run by
Bombardier. The apex of the triangle was Newbury Park Junction (just to the south of Vicarage Lane), the western side was Ilford Carriage Sidings Junction, and the eastern side was Seven Kings West Junction. The topography provided some challenges for the engineers cite book |last=Jackson|first=Alan A|title=London's Local Railways|year=1999|publisher=Capital Transport|chapter=|pages=p.395|isbn=1-85414-209-7] . The line was on the surface but a short section (260 yards or 238 m) of tunnel needed to be bored immediately to the north of Grange Hill. The line between the future Roding Valley and Chigwell was constructed on an embankment, and a three-arch viaduct was built over the River Roding. Further east, the embankment was bisected by the construction of the London end of the M11 motorway(opened 1977 [ [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m11loncamstat.htm Motorway Archive - M11 dates] ] ), with a new concrete bridge carrying the Central line over the roadway. Chigwell and Grange Hill were built in cuttings, Hainault and Fairlop were built on embankments, and most of the route south of Barkingside including Newbury Park was also built in a cutting. Only the platforms at Roding Valley and Barkingside (eastbound only) are accessible from street level, though there are a couple of steps at the former station.Goods yards were built at Grange Hill (closed 1965), Hainault (closed 1908), Fairlop (closed 1958), Barkingside and Newbury Park (both closed 1965)cite book |last=Brown|first=Joe|title=London Railway Atlas|publisher=Ian Allan|year=2007|isbn=978-0-71-103137-1] . One of the former sidings at Newbury Park is now used as the eastbound through track, with the former eastbound track normally used only for reversing, though it retains the connection facing Barkingside. The sidings at Grange Hill now form part of the north-facing access from Hainault Depot. They extend as far as parallel to the station platforms, and there are also sidings at the southern end of the depot, next to the platforms at Hainault station. East of Chigwell, a short siding served Chigwell Nursery in GER days, but this was taken out of service at an unknown time, probably before Grouping into the LNER (the nursery was sold in 1922cite book |last=Connor|first=J E|title=op. cit.|year=2007|publisher=|chapter=|pages=p. 89|] ).
Newbury Park to Leytonstone
The tube line built between Leytonstone and Newbury Park is of standard twin bore construction, with the three intermediate stations all having central platforms. The route diverges from the Ongar branch east of Leytonstone at Leytonstone Junction, with the tracks passing to either side of the latter and immediately diving underground. The route heads mostly beneath the alignment of the A12 Eastern Avenue as far as
Gants Hill. East of here the alignment turns southeast along Perth Road, then turns east to pass beneath Ley Street to hit the alignment of Wards Road, before curving northwards beneath Glebelands Avenue to reach the surface just south of Newbury Park, with the tracks passing to either side of the track bed of the former line to Ilford. The tunnels were essentially completed when the Second World Warbroke out in 1939, and between 1942 and the end of hostilities, they were put to use as an underground munitions factory(complete with its own 18 in (457 mm) railway) by the Plesseycompany, who were based in Ilford for many years. Redbridge station holds the record for the shallowest "deep-level" station on the London Underground network, being only 26 feet (7.9 m) below street level [ [http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/corporate/modesoftransport/tube/linefacts/?line=central Transport for London - Central line facts] ] , necessitating just a short of flight of stairs for entry. Gants Hill and Wanstead, due to their greater depth, are provided with escalators, though passengers at the former need additional ramps or stairs to reach the surface.
"In order from northwest to southeast"
* Woodford, opened
22 August 1856by the Eastern Counties Railway(ECR), closed briefly before re-opening 14 December 1947as part of the Central line."Fairlop Loop diverges from the Ongar (now Epping) Branch at Woodford Junction"
* Roding Valley, opened
3 February 1936as Roding Valley Halt by the LNER, closed 29 November 1947before re-opening 21 November 1948as part of the Central line.
* Chigwell, opened
1 May 1903by the GER, closed 29 November 1947before re-opening 21 November 1948.
* Grange Hill, opened
1 May 1903by the GER, closed 29 November 1947before re-opening 21 November 1948.
* Hainault, opened
1 May 1903by the GER, closed 1 October 1908until 3 March 1930. Closed 29 November 1947before re-opening 31 May 1948.
* Fairlop, opened
1 May 1903by the GER, closed 29 November 1947before re-opening 31 May 1948.
* Barkingside, opened
1 May 1903by the GER, closed 22 May 1916until 30 June 1919. Closed 29 November 1947before re-opening 31 May 1948.
* Newbury Park, opened
1 May 1903by the GER, closed 29 November 1947before re-opening 14 December 1947as part of the Central line.:"Former connection: Fairlop Loop joins Great Eastern Main Line via westward curve between Newbury Park Junction and Ilford Carriage Sidings Junction":*" Ilford, opened 20 June 1839cite book |last=Brennand|first=Dave|title=op. cit.|year=2006|publisher=|chapter=|pages=p. IV|isbn=] by the Eastern Counties Railway. Operated by National Express East Angliaas of late 2007. Connection closed 30 November 1947.":"Former connection (freight-only): Fairlop Loop joins Great Eastern Main Line via eastward curve between Newbury Park Junction and Seven Kings West Junction":*" Seven Kings, opened 1 March 1899by the GER. Operated by National Express East Anglia as of late 2007. Connection closed 19 March 1956. (NB. station never served by scheduled Fairlop Loop passenger trains)""Remainder of Fairlop loop connects with Central line tube from Leytonstone (nowadays both parts referred to as the "Hainault Loop")"
* Gants Hill, opened by LTE
14 December 1947.
* Redbridge, opened by LTE
14 December 1947.
* Wanstead, opened by LTE
14 December 1947."re-joins the Ongar (Epping) Branch at Leytonstone Junction"
* Leytonstone, opened
22 August 1856by the ECR, closed briefly before re-opening 5 May 1947as part of the Central line.
Most of the surface stations of the former Fairlop loop as well as the newer underground stations on the Hainault loop are notable for their architecture, dating from Edwardian to the London Transport style of the 1930s/1940s. The bus station shelter at Newbury Park won a
Festival of Britainaward in 1951, and both it and Barkingside station are Grade II Listed buildings [ [http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=204888&resourceID=5 Newbury Park station Grade II Listing] ] [ [http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=204876&resourceID=5 Barkingside station Grade II Listing] ] . Additionally, the interior of Gants Hill was heavily inspired by the Moscow Metrocite book |last=Connor|first=J E|title=op. cit.|year=2007|publisher=|chapter=|pages=p. 118|isbn=] . Externally, however, Gants Hill lacks a proper station building, being built directly underneath the busy A12 roundabout of the same name. Due to bomb damage to Grange Hill in 1944cite book |last=Connor|first=J E|title=op. cit.|year=2007|publisher=|chapter=|pages=p. 94|isbn=] , and expansion of the A12 Eastern Avenue at Newbury Park in 1956cite book |last=Connor|first=J E|title=op. cit.|year=2007|publisher=|chapter=|pages=p. 114|isbn=] , the original station buildings at these locations were demolished. They were almost identical to that at Chigwell. Newbury Park was meant to receive a replacement building but it was never built, and the only entrance is via the bus shelter. Hainault's original structure, prior to the rebuilding due to the addition of Hainault Depot, was very similar to that at Fairlopcite book |last=Connor|first=J E|title=op. cit.|year=2007|publisher=|chapter=|pages=p. 99|isbn=] . Roding Valley alone had rather basic buildings upon opening, with an all-wooden shelter on the Woodford-bound side, though these were replaced by more substantial structures when transferred to the Central line. Notable architects included Oliver Hill for Newbury Park bus shelter, and W N Ashbee for the original six stations from Chigwell to Newbury Park (though the Listing authorities credit William Burgess for Barkingside, possibly erroneously). Renowned London Undergroundarchitect Charles Holdendesigned the three all-new underground stations which opened in 1947 [ [http://www.charlesholden.com/html/gallery_index.html Charles Holden station photo gallery] ] .
ince 1947 (Central line)
Typical off-peak service pattern (as of 2007) [ [http://www.davros.org/rail/culg/central.html#Services Clive's UndergrounD Line Guides - Central line services] ] :
* Through trains central
London- Leytonstone - Hainault via Newbury Park: every 6-10 mins until c. 01:00 (1 am).
* as above but additionally Hainault - Woodford: every 20 mins until 00:00 (midnight).
* additional trains from White City to Newbury Park only, every 20 mins.
Before 1947 (GER/LNER)
Typical service pattern by 1933 (LNER)cite book |last=Connor|first=J E|title=op. cit.|year=2007|publisher=|chapter=|pages=p. X|isbn=] :
* Service frequency half-hourly during the day, circular service typically London Liverpool Street - Stratford - Ilford - Woodford - Stratford - London Liverpool Street.
ince 1947 (Central line)
Standard tube stock1947-1963 (final withdrawal)
1959 tube stock1960-1964
1962 tube stock1962-1995 (final withdrawal)
1992 tube stock1993-present
* Hainault - Woodford shuttle service saw a variety of different stock from the early 1960s in conjunction with experimental
Automatic Train Operation(ATO), such as 1960 tube stockcite book |last=Bruce, J Graeme & Croome, Desmond F|first=|title=The Central Line|year=2006|publisher=Capital Transport|page=p.69|isbn=1-85414-297-6] and trials of both 1967 tube stock and modified 1973 tube stockcite book |last=Glover, John & Marsden, Colin J| first=|title=Motive Power Recognition: 4 London Transport Railways and PTE Systems|year=1985|publisher=Ian Allan|page=p.59|isbn=0711014604] , prior to introduction of the 1992 trains.
Before 1947 (GER/LNER)
Steam locomotivesincluded Holden 2-4-2T tank engines and Hill 0-6-2T tank engines built by the GER, while carriageswere usually of the short wheelbasetype and numbered up to 16 per train.cite book |last=Jackson|first=Alan A|title=op. cit.|year=1999|publisher=|chapter=|page=p.396|]
The disused connection today
The disused connection between Ilford/Seven Kings and Newbury Park is relatively short, at approximately 0.8 miles (1.3 km) long, but it is still evident at ground level. This is despite the track being lifted many years ago. From south to north, there are three road bridges, Vicarage Lane, Benton Road and Wards Road apparently crossing over a missing alignment, though much of the route was in a cutting that has been filled in since the line closed. Also, south of Newbury Park, the inclines to/from the tunnel portals towards Gants Hill diverge away from what's left of the former route. Immediately to the south is an
electrical substationoff Glebelands Avenue. South of there, there is a stretch of derelict land followed by a small area of allotment gardens north of Wards Road, with more allotments to the south of there and north of Benton Road. South of Benton Road, an outbuilding of St. Aidan's School as well some new blocks of flats (Friars Close) occupy the alignment as far south as Vicarage Lane, whilst south of there are yet more flats (Piper Way) lying just to the north of Ilford Carriage Sheds, the expansion of which followed the initial severing of the Newbury Park Junction to Ilford Carriage Sidings Junction curve in November 1947. The route was abandoned fully when the connecting curve to Seven Kings West Junction was lifted in 1956. The site of this curve is now occupied by the depot's "New Shed", opened in 1959. Little evidence remains for the former junctions at the Main Line end.
Ilford to Newbury Park: modern alternatives
The recent construction of residential blocks, as well as the long-standing and ongoing use of the alignment for allotment gardens, means that there can be no re-instatement of the rail-link between Ilford and Newbury Park. The Central line serves both Stratford and Liverpool Street, just as the old Fairlop Loop line services did, and to travel by rail between Newbury Park and Ilford requires a relatively simple change of trains at Stratford. However, more direct routes involve local bus routes 296 and 396, serving both stations directly, and a third route, the 169, serving Ley Street and Horns Road a few hundred yards to the west of Newbury Park. The 296 and 396 head west along the Eastern Avenue as far as Gants Hill, before turning south, whilst the 169 is actually a less circuitous route [ [http://www.londonbusroutes.net/routes.htm London Bus Routes - List of routes] ] .
*London Underground Central line
Epping Ongar Railway
Great Eastern Railway
London and North Eastern Railway
London Transport Executive
* J E Connor, "Branch Line to Ongar", Middleton Press, 2007, ISBN 978-1-906008-05-5
* Dave Brennand, "Ilford to Shenfield", Middleton Press, 2007, ISBN 1-901706-97-4
* Alan A Jackson, "London's Local Railways", Capital Transport, 1999, ISBN 1-85414-209-7.
* J Graeme Bruce & Desmond F Croome, "The Central Line", Capital Transport, 2006, ISBN 1-85414-297-6.
* [http://www.davros.org/rail/culg/central.html Clive's UndergrounD Line Guides - Central line]
* [http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~gsgleaves/london9.htm Electrifying London - The 1935-1940 New Works Programme]
* [http://www.tfl.gov.uk/modalpages/2625.aspx Transport for London's London Underground website]
* [http://www.cravensheritagetrains.co.uk/history Cravens Heritage Trains - History of the GER/LNER branch lines in London]
* [http://www.gersociety.org.uk/ The Great Eastern Railway Society]
* [http://www.lner.info/co/index.shtml The London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) Encyclopedia]
* [http://www.npemap.org.uk/tiles/map.html#180,62,2 New Popular Edition Maps] - view a 1946 map of the entire Fairlop Loop just prior to takeover by the Central line. Zoom/pan interactively.
* [http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/gateway Heritage Gateway - Online resources including searchable database of Listed Buildings Online]
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