Buntingford Branch Line
A lost railway of Hertfordshire
By Nicholas Blatchley
Until the 1960s, Buntingford was the terminus of a branch railway line, linking it directly to Liverpool Street in London.
The original intention, abandoned in the 1850s, had been to build a line from Ware to Cambridge, via Buntingford. In 1857, the Ware, Hadham and Buntingford Railway Company was formed, and received approval from the government the following year.
Due to problems with a landowner, it proved impossible to start the line at Ware, as planned, so instead it was built branching off from the Hertford East line at St Margarets. The line was opened in 1863 and taken over five years later by the Great Eastern Railway.
After St Margarets, the stations served by the line were Mardock (“for Wareside”), Widford, Hadham, Standon, Braughing (which had a passing loop), Westmill and Buntingford. For much of the line’s life, it carried a through service to London that was well used by commuters, as well as freight.
In 1959, the line was dieselised, but the through service was cut. Partly because of this, and partly because cars allowed commuters to access faster lines to London, the branch line declined over the next few years and was eventually closed by Dr Beeching in 1965, although freight services continued until the following year.
The Branch Line Today
Parts of the track have been converted into footpaths, with only one piece of track still showing, on wasteland just outside Buntingford. Buntingford Station is currently being redeveloped into housing.