The Clacton and Walton branches

The Clacton and Walton branches from Colchester were first opened in 1867 (Walton) and 1882 (Clacton). Electrification came in March 1959 but thru diesel haulage to Liverpool St continued until 1962.  Classes 24 and 31 featured heavily on services such as listed in our Colchester, Aug 1960 log linked here

The class 309 “Clacton units” in 2 and 4 car formations worked many of the branch services from 1962 with class 312, 313 and later 321 units working most services from 1994 after the class 309 units were stood down.

Loco hauled services declined from 1963 onwards but Clacton remained a popular venue for “Merrymakers” and Charters. By the late 80s these too had declined leaving just the early morning paper train to Clacton which lasted until 1990.

The dominance of class 312/321 units on the branch began to be undermined by new class 360 units from Aug 2003 which quickly saw off the 312s. By early 2021 the 26 strong fleet of 360s were transferred to the Midland for new Corby – St Pancras services leaving just the 321’s to work the branch. The new class 720 units slowly entered service again in 2021 and eventually they will monopolise branch power leaving just the class 37 hauled Network Rail test trains for a bit of variety on the “Sunshine Coast Line”

Shack scratching on the branch

The branch has 11 stations from West to East they are

Colchester Town (was St Botophs), Hythe, Wivenhoe, Alresford, Great Bentley, Weeley, Thorpe-le-Soken and Clacton with Kirby Cross, Frinton and Walton-on-the-Naze itself.

As below it took me from 1979-2021 to clear the branch starting with 37262 to Clacton on an ADEX on April 16th 1979. June 30th 1991 saw 85101 roaring into St Botolphs with the epic “Roarer Requim” tour from Manchester. At St Botolphs tailing 37892 then worked the tour to Walton for 85101 to return the tour South.

The unique sight of a class 85 at Colchester St Botolphs with the “Roarer Requim” Railtour on June 30th 1991

The equally unique sight of a class 85 at Walton with the return “Roarer Requim” tour to Manchester which also included Liverpool St in its fascinating itinary.

312702 at Clacton about to be cleaned on January 20th 1994

312703 at Thorpe-le-Soken with a Colchester local service from Walton on January 15th 1994

The 309 farewell trips on January 22nd 1994 saw a 309 raked in from Thorpe-le-Soken.

The last day for GE 309 action with 309626/613/616 arriving at Thorpe with the 1400 Liverpool St – Clacton on January 22nd 1994

I had to wait until 2021 to rake in the intermediate shacks mostly served by an hourly shuttle from Colchester to Walton. The last shack for me was Great Bentley a “man of steel”  plus one off the down onto the up local. Each of the stations are well worth doing, each largely untouched by heavy modernisation and retain much character. 

The last one falls, helped by slightly late running i had time on the 1 minute wait between services to photograph 321320 on the 1400 Walton – Colchester at Great Bentley on June 7th 2021. 

160479 Easter Monday

37262  xxxx Wolverhampton-Clacton ADEX           Colchester – Clacton

309612  1250 Clacton – Liverpool St                         Clacton – Liverpool St

300691 Su

85101  0625 Manchester – Walton-on-Naze               Liverpool St – St Botolphs

“Roarer Requim” tour

37892  0625 Manchester – Walton-on-Naze               St Botolphs – Walton-on-Naze

“Roarer Requim” tour

85101  Walton-on-Naze – Willesden Yd                    Walton-on-Naze – Willesden yd

“Roarer Requim” tour

220194 Sat

321330  1500 Clacton – Liverpool St             Clacton – Thorpe-le-Soken

309626}

309613}  1400 Liverpool St – Clacton           Thorpe-le-Soken – Clacton

309616}

301004 Class 86 farewell

050521 We

321428}

322481}  1118 Liverpool St – Clacton           Shenfield – Wivinhoe

321333}

321316    1200 Walton-on-Naze – Colchester  Wivinhoe – Colchester

Wivinhoe is situated on a tight curve and has 4 trains per hour and sees a high student consist. On May 5th 2021 321316 arrives at Wivinhoe on the 1200 Walton – Colchester.

120521 We

321332  1200 Walton-on-Naze – Colchester    Wivinhoe – Hythe    

180521 Th

321447  1256 Colchester – Walton-on-Naze  Colchester – Alresford

321335  1300 Walton-on-Naze – Colchester    Alresford – Colchester

Sleepy Alresford sees 321335 arriving with the 1300 Waton – Colchester on May 18th 2021

240521 Mo

321902  1256 Colchester – Walton-on-Naze  Thorpe-le-Soken – Frinton     

321902 arrives at Frinton once a holiday haunt of Winston Churchill with the 1400 Walton – Colchester on May 24th 2021

321902  1400 Walton-on-Naze – Colchester  Frinton – Weeley

Weeley is bathed in warm sun as the guard of 321902 looks on on May 24th 2021

321424  1356 Colchester – Walton-on-Naze  Weeley – Kirby Cross           

321424  1500 Walton-on-Naze – Colchester  Kirby Cross – Thorpe-le-Soken

Ex Silverlink and BY 321424 arrives at Kirby Cross with the 1500 Walton – Colchester again on May 24th 2021

070621 Mo                

321303  1356 Colchester – Walton-on-Naze  Colchester – Great Bentley   

321320  1400 Walton-on-Naze – Colchester  Great Bentley – Colchester

Notes

Colchester St Botolphs was renamed Colchester Town in 1991.

Great Bentley is normally a tight plus 1 between down and up local services

4 quality Clacton photos from Mark Beal    

Mark Beal captures the imposing frontage of Clacton station dating from 1882 seen here on August 2nd 2020

Former WCML Silverlink regular 321407 stands at Clacton with the former Great Eastern type 7 signalbox dating from 1891 in the background on August 2nd 2020. Thanks to Mark Beal

The well travelled 322483 has 321433 for company in the station sidings at Clacton on August 2nd 2020. Thanks to Mark Beal

Slight livery variations on pioneer 321301 and 321343 RSA RAILWAY STUDY ASSOCIATION stabled in Clacton station sidings on August 2nd 2020. Thanks to Mark Beal

313097 (313062) at Walton with a Thorpe local on March 24th 1988. A Dave Spencer phot recvd with thanks

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