Stock History
By Charles Phillips
This article is intended to clear up the myth that the railway line that runs from Shenfield to Southend via Billericay was originally proposed to run Ingatestone to Southend via Stock. Additionally it will mention railway schemes that would have passed near Stock for which bills were put forward but never passed.
Stock never featured in any plans for a railway for which a bill was put forward, but Buttsbury did.
In 1825 there was a proposal for a London and Ipswich railway to run from Whitechapel in London to Ipswich and which would have passed through the parish of Buttsbury. As steam locomotives were still in their infancy the intended motive power would have been horses as used on the Surrey Iron Railway which had opened in 1804. However nothing came of the proposal. The proposal was the ancestor of the present line from London to Ipswich.
In 1845 there was a proposal for a Metropolitan Railways Junction Railway of 1845 which would have run from Reigate to West Tilbury in a clockwise direction round the outside of London. This would have passed through Ingatestone, Buttsbury and Mountnessing. Nothing came of this. Had it been built it would have been steam worked.
It is worth pointing at this point that the original station in Ingatestone when the Eastern Counties Railway line through there opened in 1843 was where the Stock Road crosses the railway and which was closer to both the centre of Ingatestone and to Stock. The reason it was closed and moved to its present site in 1844 was because the Lord Petre of the day having been forced to give the railway some of his land felt that he was entitled in recompense to have the station where he wanted it nearer Ingatestone Hall. Had the station been left in its original location the development of Ingatestone might have been rather different and Stock might have been more closely connected to Ingatestone that Billericay.
It is now necessary to understand some railway history. In the early part of the 1850s the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway was jointly created by the London and Blackwall and Eastern Counties railways. As the name implies the railway served the places mentioned and was opened to Tilbury in 1854 and Southend in 1856. In 1862 the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway became a separate company. However the engines, carriages and goods wagons were provided by the Great Eastern Railway of which the Eastern Counties Railway was a constituent company. In short the Great Eastern Railway worked the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway. In 1875 the London, Tilbury acquired its own carriages and goods wagons. In 1880 it acquired its own engines. The line was London to Southend was not very direct and was about 41 miles. At the beginning of the 1880s saw the beginning of plans for the Tilbury Docks. The Tilbury company could see that when the Tilbury Docks were built there would a lot more traffic on the line to Tilbury from London and it also saw a need to shorten the distance from London to Southend. In 1881 consideration was given to building a cut off route from Barking to Pitsea via Upminster to shorten the distance from London to Southend. This fairly soon developed into a firm proposal and in 1882 an act authorising the construction of the line was passed.
Meanwhile Billericay had rather stagnated during the 19th century. Through stage coaches from London to Southend had ceased even before the opening of the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway merely running from Brentwood to Southend after the opening of the Eastern Counties Railway through Brentwood and ceasing completely with the opening of the railway to Southend. By 1882 all that was left was a couple of daily coaches between Billericay and Brentwood. Its market had declined. This is part was also due to the town not being on railway unlike Chelmsford.
In 1882 Mr H J Emerson who was a linen and woollen draper in Billericay was thinking what steps could be taken for the improvement of the town and he came to the conclusion that nothing but a railway would have that effect. So he wrote to the manager of the Great Eastern Railway and he received a reply back asking him for the route that he proposed. He replied that the line should commence midway between Brentwood and Ingatestone and pass through Billericay, Ramsden Crays, Wickford, Rayleigh and Rochford to Southend. He forwarded his correspondence to the editor of the Essex Chronicle who took up the matter. It there met the eye of a certain Rev Beresford Harris who took up the gauntlet.
Now from the above we can that the original plan was for a railway from Shenfield to Southend and not Ingatestone to Southend. In fact there were Stock people at a public meeting held in Billericay town hall on 20th March 1883 to take into consideration the Great Eastern Railway's proposal. For example the William Gillow and the Rev E P Gibson. The result of the meeting was the passing of a series of motions in favour of building the railway.
Meanwhile the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway which couldn't avoid learning about the Great Eastern's proposal line proposed a line from Pitsea to Southend via Rayleigh and Rochford and also backed an independent Mid Essex Junction Railway from Pitsea to Ingatestone via Billericay. However the latter was not proceeded with. If the Mid Essex Junction had been proceeded with and been constructed and also had the Pitsea to Southend line been constructed the Great Eastern would have had access over it to Pitsea, but not over a curved which went in the direction of Southend, whereas the London, Tilbury and Southend would have had access over the curve.
What happened was that the 1883 session of Parliament the Great Eastern's proposal for the line from Shenfield to Southend was passed and the London, Tilbury and Southend's proposal for the line from Pitsea to Southend was rejected.
Now where does the idea of the Stock business come into it, as it was not in the Great Eastern's plans? Very good question, particularly as the Billericay plan had the backing of Stock from the start. Someone might have suggested building the line from Ingatestone as an alternative - but that someone was certainly not in the Great Eastern Railway. In fact the distance from London to Southend via a line from Ingatestone and Stock would have longer than the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway's line via Tilbury let alone the line via Upminster. Equally someone might have heard about the Mid Essex Junction proposal and got things mixed up. Certainly in the report in the Essex Chronicle of 20th March 1883 of the meeting of 20th there is no mention of the Stock scheme. There is of the Pitsea to Southend scheme. Nor are there plans for an Ingatestone to Southend line in the Essex Records Office. The line from Shenfield to Wickford opened to passenger trains on 1st January 1889.
This does not appear to be the end of Stock and the railway. In 1905 the Great Eastern Railway started operating motorbus services in Essex from Chelmsford to Danbury, Writtle (Oxney Green) and Great Waltham. It is known that in that year there was a proposal to operate motor buses to Stock, but whilst the rector and the parish council were in favour of it the squire Richard Ellis was against it and put a stop to it. Having examined all the alternatives it is my belief that the Great Eastern Railway intended a fourth route - to Stock. If you like the original intention was to have bus services running from Chelmsford to the west - Writtle (Oxney Green), north - Great Waltham, east - Danbury and south - Stock. The reason given by Mr Ellis was that the buses would bring undesirable people into the village. One could argue that undesirable people could get into the village any way without the aid of buses. For some reason in 1913 Mr Ellis changed his mind and let the National Steam Car Company, which had taken over the Great Eastern's Chelmsford services run buses into the village.
Briefly there were two other proposals for railways that would have affected Stock. Just after the Second World War when Britain was full of new ideas there was amongst other things a proposal for a railway from Watford to Pitsea via Chelmsford, Billericay and Laindon. Whilst in the early 1970s the high-speed railway to proposed Maplin port and airport would have passed near the bottom of Stock hills.
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