#143: Shenfield 07/07/2022

Shenfield Station

I first visited Shenfield on the 18th of April 2019 as a pre-emptive strike ahead of the Elizabeth Line’s official opening. So it was technically still an end of the line for TfL Rail until it morphed into the Elizabeth Line when it officially opened on the 31st of May 2022. However, I found this sign on the platform, and I’m intrigued. Does anyone know what it means?

(A Facebook response has elicited this explanation – I trained on this line L526 was multi-spad {signal passed at danger} but has since been removed from the list due to no further incidents. I believe it was more of an issue with the shorter 315 /345 formations. 9 car 345 formations start against the signal.)

You can read my earlier post here. Some of you will be familiar with this photo; slightly different this time, but the old caboose is still there.

But today, it’s the turn of Greater Anglia, with services running from Liverpool Street into the heart of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. This is as far as I can travel for free out of London on my Oyster card, but regular readers will know I live only a few stations away. 

Greater Anglia has been modernising its fleet of trains in recent years, and the more modern Class 720 was the predominant rolling stock that passed through the station. However, Class 321’s were also seen running through to Ipswich. It was also nice to see the Queen’s Jubilee celebrated on the side of one of the trains.

The tracks diverge to Colchester and Southend to the east of the station, with two tracks to each destination. This shot captures the 11:16 to Braintree just leaving the station weaving its way through the points and overhead power lines. You might disagree with me, but I find the plethora of infrastructure that helps the train take the strain quite photographically attractive.

There was a surreal moment, too, as a container freight train rolled through the station with just the empty carriages. I had a ‘Bond’ moment where I envisaged jumping onto the carriages to hitch a free ride – but of course, far too dangerous.

Where can I sit in the open out of sight? At the end of platforms 2 & 3 is the answer, where you can grab a seat, eat lunch, read or listen to music. But these two travellers were oblivious to my inquiring lens.

It’s a busy station now with six platforms. It opened initially in 1843, but due to low patronage, it closed in 1850 and re-opened in 1887 as Shenfield & Hutton. Finally branded Shenfield in 1969, a few years after the goods yard closed, now the car park and home to one of Network Rail’s Emergency Response Units.

Hutton Mount

Hutton Mount is on the south side of the station. It’s not somewhere I’ve been before, but locals will know it well. Think of a number and then add £000,000s after it. That gives you an idea of the kind of area I’m in. Gated property after gated property, all with CCTV, adorns the area along Herington Grove, Roundwood Avenue and Mount Avenue. And to a lesser extent along Burses Way for a little while.

The entire area is marked as private roads, but some form of local authority adoption must have been accepted as all the roads are marked with parking restrictions with yellow lines and prohibition notices. This one amused me as the pole has now become part of the surrounding hedge.

At the top of Roundwood Avenue, I walked around the Hutton & Shenfield Union Church. The first church I’ve encountered with access to private tennis courts with time restrictions for playing on a Sunday. It’s an excellent example of the community living in harmony. It’s a delightfully manicured church with reminders set in stone around the building of its original benefactors. This is a view from the Festival Garden looking towards the church.

As I neared the main Rayleigh Road from Burses Way, I stopped to chat with a resident cutting the grass verge in front of his house and asked if he had any knowledge of the history of the nearby Hanging Hill Lane. Sadly not, other than the obvious. He mentioned a former resident who would have the answer, but sadly she’s no longer with us. Maybe she’s the ghost I referenced in my first blog?

Shenfield

The town has a very relaxed feel about it and in some way reflects its surrounding affluence. Although local traffic through the town is quite busy, passing traffic is diverted along the A12 bypass with close links to the M25.

As you emerge from the station, you arrive in the heart of the town full of independent shops. There are various retail, health and beauty, bespoke outlets and coffee and dining shops with open-air spaces outside their premises. And whilst walking around, I spotted a couple of gents with a professional film set up. Enquire as I had to, they explained they were filming shots for the next series of TOWIE (The Only Way Is Essex). Smile gents!

I took a particular shine to the Wine Merchants – Liquorice on Friars Avenue. Partly because it looked enticing from the outside and partly because of the striking mural on the side of the shop. This photo is of a mural created by Alison Cook, a local artist who takes her inspiration from her surrounding countryside. Intrigued to discover more, I went into the shop and met Dan, the owner.

Dan was very accommodating and was more than happy for me to wander around the shop and take photographs. We chatted for a while, and I recalled a couple of drink-related stories from my teenage years. The smell of Brains brewery in the centre of Cardiff and the taste of Gales’ Winter Brew during my college years in Portsmouth.

He explained that Alison was displaying some of her artwork in the shop window as part of the Brentwood Art Trail that had been displaying local artists’ works throughout June in Brentwood, Shenfield and Ingatestone.

Over my years of travelling, I’ve found that I’m always drawn to well-presented wine merchants and delicatessens as they have often featured in my blogs. Of course, not intentional, but maybe it’s because they have something different to offer and present their goods well. Anyway, I’m glad I stopped by, and if you fancy seeing what Dan has in store, maybe some of these photos will entice you in.

Back to Brentwood

It’s a mile’s walk to the edge of Brentwood and slightly uphill, so it was a slow walk on a hot day. My first stop was opposite Brentwood’s Prep School, admiring the school’s staff car park entrance. It ultimately leads into Brentwood Sports Ground which is adjacent to Brentwood Cricket Ground, but the concrete ruggedness has a somewhat artistic charm to it which I had to capture.

A further third of a mile and I come to the end of my day’s travels. But not before exploring the Brentwood Theatre and its surroundings. The theatre’s recently renovated Café Bar is at the side of the theatre, and its proprietors pride themselves on sourcing many products from local suppliers. Their courtyard is an ideal sun-trap, where you can sit and enjoy the passage of time and read the names on the brick mural dedicated to the theatre’s patrons.

And although Brentwood’s Telephone Exchange slightly overshadows the Café Bar, it takes nothing away from the delightful haven created to welcome theatregoers.

Picture of the Day – Gateway to Shenfield

The railway tracks traverse the main road over two bridges, which act as a natural gateway into Shenfield from the Hutton area. The bridges are still very serviceable, but a lick of paint wouldn’t go amiss.

This is a shot taken from Rayleigh Road, looking through the bridges into Hutton Road. I’ve created a black and white image to add mood to this window effect and highlighted the pedestrians on the left to add context. So tell me, what do you think?

  • Location: Railway Bridges over Rayleigh Road
  • Date/Time: Thursday 7th July 2022, 1:18 PM
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture -f/4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 33mm; Film Speed – ISO125

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