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.
The 313s had short spells on the Clacton branch, 313062 at St Botolphs with a Clacton service on August 1st 1987
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
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
321330 1500 Clacton – Liverpool St Clacton – Thorpe-le-Soken
309613} 1400 Liverpool St – Clacton Thorpe-le-Soken – Clacton
301004 Class 86 farewell
322481} 1118 Liverpool St – Clacton Shenfield – Wivinhoe
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.
321332 1200 Walton-on-Naze – Colchester Wivinhoe – Hythe
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
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
321303 1356 Colchester – Walton-on-Naze Colchester – Great Bentley
321320 1400 Walton-on-Naze – Colchester Great Bentley – Colchester
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