On Sunday my lovely niece, her two sons & I set sail on the central line, destination Epping. Our quest to catch the Green RT Heritage Routemaster bus from the station at Epping & arrive at North Weald railway station to catch a Heritage train to Ongar!
Here is a photo of the bus, taken by my 5 yrs old nephew. We enjoyed sharing the bus ride experience with the excited families & enthusiasts.
We learnt that the steam engine was unwell & unable to pull our train today – whichput me in mind of my son’s favourite Thomas The Tank Engine book ‘Evil Diesel’. However, the diesel that pulled our carriages seemed fine & we enjoyed the unhurried pace of this heritage line journey.
There were two trains in operation & we changed on to the train that took us to Coopersale. Here the woods were quite magical with the autumnal shades of leaves & ferns. As yet there is no alighting or boarding at this point, so we returned to North Weald in our slam-door carriages. We discussed the ‘Young Ones’ where Vivien put his head out of the window & it got knocked off – a man had his head out of the window at the station, causing the 5yrs old much consternation!
By the end of the second train journey it was time to visit the local Inn. We were all extremely happy to discover that not only did the timber-framed building date to the 15th Century, but was one of the most ancient pubs in Essex! It began life as a late medieval open hall which was replaced in the 1600’s by a two-storey hall block & was extensively reconstructed in 1927. Ships timbers used are now warped with age into odd, slanting angles. It also had wood fires, comfy chairs, cooked meals & real ale – just the job on a chilly Sunday afternoon!
Returning to the story of the Railway line, we discover the line was purchased in 1998 & re-opened & run by volunteers from October 2004. In 2007 it was sold to a private developer who was committed to bringing back steam engines. Ongar station was painted in GER colours (Great Eastern Railway), whilst North Weald was painted in the 1940’s-1960’s LNER/BR (E) colours of Brunswick Green & Cream. (London North Eastern Railway/British Rail – East).
Services were resumed after track re-laying & related works on 25th May 2012.
It is possible to travel on steam-hauled passenger services & diesel shuttle from North Weald to Coopersale Lane on Saturdays, Sundays & Bank Holidays.
Apparently the Teddy Bear’s Picnic & Hallowe’en are immensely popular!
This is a readily accessible treat for all London adventurers.