Community celebrates 175th anniversary of Ingatestone railway station
PUBLISHED: 13:13 14 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:13 14 May 2019
A community gathered together to celebrate the 175th anniversary of its railway station.
Celebrities, civic dignitaries and more than 100 residents flocked to the special event at the Ingatestone railway station at the weekend on Sunday, May 12, to mark the special occasion.
From former Olympic gold medallist Fatima Whitbread and former England cricketer Graham Gooch, to Brentwood MP Alex Burghart, Lord John Petre, Lord Eric Pickles and the Bishop of Chelmsford, there were plenty of well known faces among the crowd.
Greater Anglia engineering director Martin Beable said: "It's tremendous to see how fond the Ingatestone community is of our station and the people who work there.
"I think the fact that so many people celebrated is testament to how much the community appreciates them."
Ingatestone railway station, on the Greater Anglia network, first opened in 1844, after Lord William Petre, the 11th Baron, allowed the Eastern Counties Railway to run through his land.
He insisted that the station was built in the current location to his design, in a style that mirrored his Tudor ancestral home, Ingatestone Hall.
From 1844 to 1846, when the current station was finished, a cottage near the railway served as the station building.
Now, 175 years later, the 18th Baron, Lord John Petre, who frequently pops into the station, was one of the guests of honour at the anniversary celebrations.
Last year, there were about 780,000 passenger journeys to and from Ingatestone station, which is on the mainline to London and is served by at least two trains an hour during the day, every day except for Sundays, when it's one an hour.
Lord Petre said: "We locals greatly value our railway station and the succession of friendly and helpful staff who, over many years, have run it - a tradition that Steve Wills and his team continue excellently to maintain.
"I feel particularly honoured to be included in the celebrations as, by all accounts, relations between my great-great-great-grandfather, who provided the land on which the station stands, and the Great Eastern Railway Company were not of the warmest."
To celebrate the day, Greater Anglia's station volunteer adopter Robert Fletcher put on an exhibition with fascinating facts and photos from the station's history and musical entertainment was provided by the Anglo European School, where many pupils use the station on their journey to and from school.
Speeches were given by the Greater Anglia engineering director Martin Beable, the acting chairman of the Ingatestone and Fryerning Parish Council, Councillor Paul Jeater, Lord Petre and Alex Burghart.
The Bishop of Chelmsford also blessed the station and one of the parish council's longest serving members, former Councillor David Abrey, unveiled a commemorative plaque donated by the council.
Cllr Jeater said: "Ingatestone and Fryerning Parish Council is honoured to be a part of the station's 175th anniversary celebrations and have unveiled a new plaque that will hang in the main ticket hall.
"We are proud of our station's heritage and would like to thank the hardworking station staff for their invaluable service to our community."