During the boom years of railway expansion in England, plans were formed for a railway station in Clare, originally as an extension of the Colchester, Stour Valley, Sudbury and Halstead Railway. From Sudbury the route would go via Long Melford to Clare; eventually the route extended to Haverhill and Cambridge. Despite the location being within the site of an important medieval castle, this slowly developed as a plan until the Great Eastern Railway took over. Work began about 1862 and on 9 August 1865 the Clare station was opened at a great ceremony.
Clare has the only station built within the bailey of a castle. The buildings are Grade 2 listed and include the only surviving examples of the 1865 type design. The Goods Shed will be developed as part of our Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
History of the railway in Clare
Clare Station remained in operation until the Beeching closures. Passenger services stopped on 6 March 1967, whilst freight services had ceased in 1966, and as early as 1963, it had become an unstaffed halt. Road access to the station passed through Clare Castle’s outer bailey; this is now a path leading from the Station Road entrance to the Park to the Old Station House in the centre of the Park.
Grain, sugar beet, coal and passengers all used the station at Clare. In nearby Station Road were the offices of the important grain merchant Charles Byford. His firm had its own dock at King’s Lynn. The growth of transport by road reduced train traffic, which by the 1950s had reached 80,000 sacks of grain passing through the station each year.
Still in place are the Stationmaster’s House with its ticket office and waiting room; a smaller waiting room across the tracks, and the last known 1865 goods shed. The three buildings together as a group are very rarely found today, and because of that in 2013 the complex was listed Grade II. A crane of the type used to lift heavy goods has recently been installed near the goods shed. The Railway Walk towards Cavendish begins by passing under a picturesque viaduct that carries the roadway to the former site of Clare Mill, destroyed by fire in the 1970s.
For more information about Clare Station visit: http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/c/clare/