Railways in Little Thetford in the 19th Century

Researched by John Drewry for the St. George’s Church Flower Festival May 2009

Following the Industrial Revolution the railways were the next thing that changed the face of Great Britain, bringing changes to all walks of life. There were two railway lines passing through Little Theford.
The Mine Line from Cambridge To Ely
This was opened in 1845 and the first station in the area was opened in Ely on 30th July 1845, when the Eastern Counties Rail Company extended the line to Brandon,At the end of our village, at the current railway gates, there used to be a signal box, known as West River, and a Gatekeeper’s cottage.
There were refuse sidings here, both up and down from 1898 due to increased traffic. This was extra to the one at Stretham Fen in 1876.
A Branch Line From St. Ives to Ely
The first section was from Ely to Sutton (approximately 7 miles) which was opened in 1866 and backed by two local landowners, who were anxious to find a more efficient outlet for their produce. The only routes available at the time were somewhat primitive slow tracks and roads.The line was fully opened in 1878 when it was extended from Sutton to Needingworth Junction joining the line from March to Cambridge via St. Ives and was known as the Ely to St. Ives Railway. It was brought out by the Great Eastern Railway in 1898.

The line ran from Needingworth via Earith, Sutton, Haddenham, Wilburton, Stretham, then passing through Little Thetford, crossing the A10 and joining the main line to Ely, just north of Braham Farm.

However the line was never a very lucrative project and closed to passengers on 2nd Feburary 1931 and to goods on the 5th October 1964.

Crossing on the A10 at Little Thetford. What traffic chaos would it cause today

Gatekeepers Cottage on the A10 at Little Thetford

Reference : ‘Eastern Mine Lines – Cambridge to Ely – including St. Ives to Ely’. Middleton Press. October 2005.
Reminder of old times. The Steam Train Oliver Cromwell speeding through Little Thetford March 2010