Burgh le Marsh Railway Station - Past & Present

Railway station 1The station at Burgh, situated in the tiny parish of Gunby, was to be built under the direction of the East Lincolnshire Railway which was finally given Royal Assent on 26 th June 1846. Today this date in itself may seem unremarkable yet it happens to be one of the most momentous in the whole political history of 19 th century Britain .

It was the very day that the infamous Corn Laws were repealed by Parliament, thus bringing an end to the illustrious career of Sir Robert Peel, the founder not only of the police force but of the modern Conservative Party itself. By the spring of the following year tenders had to be submitted to the Directors of the company for the

contract to erect stations on the line and by 24 th May 1847 the said contracts were awarded.

Considering its somewhat isolated location the station site proposed for Burgh was surprisingly quite sprawling; with a booking office, general and ladies waiting rooms, a stationmaster's house and a gatekeeper's cottage, as well as two small cottages for railway employees. In addition to this, were a large goods shed, supplemented with cattle pens, a horse dock, a coal yard and a water tender.

As was to be the case with so many other rural railway stations, Burgh was to be built an inconvenient distance from the village it was designed to serve, and, in a parish of never more than ninety persons, passenger traffic was certain to be thin. However, in those pioneering days, passenger income was always considered the icing on the railway cake and it was the movement of goods that had shareholder appeal.

The line was to be opened in stages with the Louth through to Firsby section, which of course included the station at Burgh, being completed on the 3 rd September 1848. The speed of construction was no doubt partly aided by the lack of any geographical obstacles which lay in the path of the line. In an almost flat landscape the costly construction of bridges, tunnels and cuttings was avoided. Somewhat ironically this factor, coupled with road traffic was much later to play a key part in the lines demise. By the spring of 1849 passenger services were fully operational and from the outset they included through trains to London .

That first full timetable of March 1849 identifies five service trains every weekday stopping at Burgh, in each direction. Of the five, two trains ran directly between Burgh and the capital every day, although at that time they did not run into the eventual home of the GNR in London because the terminus at King's Cross was not to be fully completed until 1852. However, for the vast majority of the local population a journey by train to London was little more than a pipedream due to the prohibitive cost of travelling for the first time at a speed faster than a horse. It had been political concern over this new exclusivity enjoyed by the rich that had led to the passing of the Railways Act of 1844, one part of which stipulated that every railway company had to run one train per day for third class passengers at a cost of 1d per mile.

The gradual attraction of the seaside to the Victorian middle class had resulted in the appeal and subsequent expansion of Skegness, but, not being a part of the railway network at the time it was to Burgh that visitors to the coast arrived by train. The horse drawn omnibus fron The Bell Hotel in Burgh village would meet every train that stopped at the station and in summer months Benjamin Brown's omnibus ran daily from Burgh station to Skegness, transporting passengers to and from the increasingly fashionable seaside resort. By July 1858 there were excursion trains to Burgh and back on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays from Nottingham and a variety of locations across the East Midlands with passengers all heading for the coast. Responsibililty for maintaining the track and all of the premises on the line was down to GNR who had leased the line from the East Lincolnshire railway from day one but had never managed to buy it.

Text taken from Research by and courtesy of Chris Forrest