The Railway through Audley End

by Martin Rose





Published by Saffron Walden Historical Society

Published May 2024

Books > History

Why do all fast trains stop at Audley End station? Why does the line disappear off into the Chalk through two tunnels whose only function is to hide it from the windows of Audley End? Whose is the showy heraldry on the portal of the Littlebury tunnel? And why is the station at Wendens Ambo called ‘Audley End’?

The building of the London to Cambridge line in 1844-45 was the final act in a decade-long struggle over the existence, and then the route, of the railway at Audley End. Drawn by the first surveyor running straight across the park in front of Lord Braybrooke’s mansion, it became the focus of a three-way struggle between the railway companies, Lord Braybrooke and the town of Saffron Walden, all of whom had quite different idea, priorities and prejudices on the matter of the railway.

Saffron Walden and Audley End provide an example of the conflicts of interest that were playing out all over England. In the 1840s the landowners, especially members of the House of Lords, generally succeeded in moulding railway projects to their own wishes and made a healthy profit from them. Lord Braybrooke was no exception.

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