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Morcott's railway

Morcott's railway
Morcott Station in early 1960'sThe railway that passed through Morcott was built in the late 1840's and opened on 2 June 1851. It ran from Rugby to join the Leicester to Peterborough railway at Luffenham Junction It approached the village from Seaton through a tunnel and then ran parallel to the road to Stamford, passing through South Luffenham on the way.

It was to be another 48 years before a station was provided for the village. This opened on 31 October 1898. Originally, the railway was double track, and this is reflected in the width of the tunnel and other building works. There were two platforms at the station, but one was removed when the line was reduced to a single track in 1907.

Throughout its life, the station was served by local trains running from Seaton to Stamford - the direct line from Seaton to Peterborough having been completed in 1879 and ued by the through trains from Rugby.

The station was of timber construction with a single building containing the booking office, waiting room and toilets. The platform consisted of wooden boards, often quite slippery in wet or frosty weather, and sometimes referred to as 'them greasy old boards'. In addition to the passenger facilities, there were two sidings - one leading into a loading dock beside the passenger platform, and the other, longer, siding stretching across the station yard towards the gate at the bottom of Station Road. Just inside the gate, there was a weighbridge and a small office building.

Throughout its life, the railway provided the main public transport link from the village to the towns of Uppingham and Stamford. There was a convenenient morning train into Stamford soon after 8am each morning, but the first bus was not until almost 10am.

Closure of the railway began in 1960 when the line from Seaton to Uppingham closed to passengers and all westbound trains terminated at Seaton. In 1964, freight ceased to be handled and the sidings were removed. Withdrawal of the passenger service was originally planned for Janary 1965, but difficulties in arranging alternative bus services led to this being put off until 6 June 1966 - almost exactly 40 years ago.

Personal recollections - early 1960's
Morcott Station 1961 with the train to Stamford and the photographer's shadowMy family moved to Morcott early in 1960 when my father became Rector of Morcott and South Luffenham, and almost at once, the railway became part of my life. Previously, we had lived a few miles south of Northamapton, close to the main line from Euston to Scotland, and there, I had developed an interest in trains. Now, I was to travel every day to school in Stamford by train.

The train was a tank locomotive (BR Standard or Ivatt 2-6-2T for the technically-minded) and two corridorless coaches. Boys and girls travelled in separate compartments in the front coach and everyone else travelled in the back coach. It was also an unspoken rule that everyone had their own space on the bench-like seats stretching across the width of the coach. New boys were 'strapped' with the thick leather strap that lowered or raised the window. The train was well used every day with people travelling to work in Stamford, as well as the school pupils, and the wooden platform at Morcott was always busy at 8-20 each morning. One boy even cycled from Glaston to catch the train at Morcott.

On the way home in the afternoon, it was possible to either wait at Stamford or travel on an earlier Leicester-bound train to Luffenham, and join the Seaton train there. I often did the latter, and once, got into a compartment at Luffenham with two girls returning from Oakham. Even at the tender age of 10, I was told pretty sharply by the station staff to get out and go to the boys' compartment! On another occasion, the other boys wouldn't let me onto the train, and the driver told me to get in his cab. I had a never to be forgotten ride on the footplate from Luffenham to Morcott!

Apart from journeys to school, I spent a lot of time watching the trains at the station and got to know the station master Mr Veazey well. There was one freight train each day which ran through soon after 11 am. It only stopped if there were wagons to pick up or drop off, and was busiest during the 'beet season' in the autumn when wagonloads of sugar beet were send off to the sugar factory in Peterborough. At this time, the train could be very late, having shunted wagons at every station from Rugby.

This picture shows the train ready to depart for Stamford in 1961, complete with my shadow!

Richard Havergal (Morcott 1960-1962)

Decay and change
Morcott Tunnel - Village End - September 1967After closure in June 1966, the track remained in place in a deteriorating condition until its removal in November 1967. This picture shows the overgrown track leading to the tunnel in September 1967. The station building stood, increasingly derelict and dangerous as the timber rotted, until 1972 when the site was taken over and re-developed by Morcott Products - a woodworking business run by two local brothers. This continued until 1995 when the brothers retired and the site was once again redeveloped for housing. (Thanks to John Williams for this information)

Today, the clearest evidence of the railway's existence is the street name 'Station Road'. The weighbridge hut in the former goods yard has outlasted all these changes, though the last surviving railway building.

The corrugated iron parapets where the railway burrowed under the village street also remain, but now look down on a mass of undergrowth on the station side and a clever sunken garden between the bridge and the tunnel.

The tunnel remains open at both ends, but is flooded in the middle and heavily overgrown at the Seaton end. For some years, it was possible to walk along the trackbed to the tunnel from the bridge carrying the road up into Seaton village. In the 1980's, this stretch seemed to be used regularly for exercising horses. Access from the bridge is now restricted by a fence and the trackbed has rapidly reverted to nature. The flat-roofed platelayer's hut that stood for many years in the angle of the lines to Uppingham amd Luffenham seems to have disappeared in the 1990's.

Towards South Luffenham, the trackbed is traceable but inaccessible with private property at both ends.