There was a time, not that long ago, when Britain’s railways were the envy of the world.
Tracks once connected communities, cities, towns and villages across the country, from Soham to Scotland, from Burwell to Bristol.
Three years ago, historian David Occomore, then living in Burwell, recorded people’s experiences of railways in Newmarket, Mildenhall and Soham in his book Along The Line: Railway Connections between Newmarket, Cambridge, Ely and Bury St Edmunds, which charted the beginning and dissolution of railway lines in our area.
Mr Occomore, who has since moved north to Cumbria, has now continued the story in Along the Line - Part Two, which covers the years from 1914 to 1925.
With the railway now well established to serve the local community, human, equine and freight, its managers, staff, rolling stock and infrastructure faced a new challenge, that presented by the Great War and the need to transport men and materials to France and bring injured soldiers back to hospitals in Cambridge and Cheveley.
After the war special demonstration trains toured the area to promote agricultural and horticultural improvement including on-board crops, poultry, goats and rabbits and the local railway system was heavily involved in the logistics of the the establishment of the Royal Show in Cambridge in July, 1922.
The book also features a wealth of photographs and biographical notes on some of the railways’ most notable employees, including the family of Newmarket’s formidable station master William Heavens, as well as accounts of incidents both amusing and unfortunate “along the line”.
Along the Line - Part Two is available from Tindalls in Newmarket, price £9.95.