FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Tube150 at the Epping Ongar Railway

Posted in England, Ongar by folkestonejack on June 22, 2013

I have been meaning to pay a visit to the Epping Ongar Railway ever since it re-opened to the public in May 2012, but somehow never quite got around to it until the lure of Tube 150 persuaded me to book some tickets.

The Epping Ongar Railway has an unusual history, unlike almost any other preserved line in the UK. Most preserved lines in the UK benefited from the extensive line closures ordered by Dr Beeching and his successors, whereas this line was still part of the London Underground network (as the eastern end of the Central Line) until as late as September 1994.

GNR Class N2 no 1744 approaches Ongar

GNR Class N2 no 1744 approaches Ongar

Over eight days this summer (21st-24th June, 28th June-1st July) the railway is hosting steam locomotive Met 1 (built in 1898) and the luxurious Metropolitan Railway ‘Jubilee’ Carriage No. 353 (built in 1892) as part of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. Other attractions include a GWR “Prairie” (no. 5521) repainted in London Transport livery and the sole surviving GNR Class N2 tank locomotive (no. 1744). Our visit fell on the second day of the gala, with an impressive turnout given the fairly unpredictable weather forecast.

The day duly delivered a rapidly changing mix of weather conditions – with everything from completely blue skies and sun through to black clouds and heavy rain! We didn’t let this deter us and set off on a trip from North Weald to Ongar in the luxuriously padded confines of Metropolitan Railway ‘Jubilee’ Carriage No. 353.

At Ongar we bought a copy of the railway’s handy guide to local walks and followed one suggested route across the fields to Greensted Church, the oldest wooden church in the world (also the oldest wooden building standing in Europe). It is a beautiful building, though you really do need their modestly priced guide book to understand the different phases of construction.

The GWR “Prairie” (LT150) hauls the 11.10 from Ongar to North Weald

The GWR “Prairie” (renumbered as LT150) hauls the 11.10 from Ongar to North Weald

From the church it is an easy walk along the marked footpaths to a couple of crossing points over the railway, presenting two delightful vistas for photography. On the completion of our walk we rewarded ourselves with a stop at the Cock Tavern in Ongar before heading back to North Weald.

Overall, the day was a great success in spite of the best efforts of the weather to throw a spanner in the works. I would certainly recommend the line and the associated walks as a great way to spend a day. The fact that it is so easily accessible from central London is a bonus.