March – March Railway Station

Above is the entrance to March railway station, which first opened to the public in 1847. I’m sure it made a good impression when soon after opening a hot cinder fell from a train engine and set light to numerous fields, machines and a barn. Although at least a house was saved from the fire. Initially, the railway station solely served the Ely to Peterborough route, initially an important route which connected Norwich to London before the direct service was created between those two cities.

During the late nineteenth century, the railways were a key driver of growth to the town, with more people employed in the railway industry as a percentage of population than in towns such as Swindon. New routes opened and the town had a substantial freight yard, making the railway station a real hub.

The two main platforms which are currently in use. To the right of these platforms are disused platforms, which form the lost link to Spalding. There are also plans to reopen the Bramley Line, which goes to Wisbech, although not much has come to fruition despite the hopes raised by numerous politicians over recent years.

This is a good idea, a timeline of the railway’s history, clearly displayed on the wall.

The Stamford Mercury reported in December 1904 the sad story of a lad called “Pratt”, although they don’t give his first name. He had been employed as a gateboy at the railway station gates and he jumped onto the footboard of an engine to fix a minor problem with the brakes, only to fall off and have his right foot cut off by the train and the other foot damaged. Unfortunately, I have no idea what happened to the poor boy, the media don’t seem to have reported it.

The railway station today is a bit of a mess, not only because of the closed off platforms. The ticket desk was shut since it was a Saturday (although quite why I’m not sure, as it’s meant to be open on Saturdays) there were queues on the platforms, the toilets were closed and the only thing open was a small coffee shop. For a railway station serving over 400,000 people a year, it’s a pretty unimpressive effort from the station operators, Greater Anglia. The Friends of March Railway Station do a marvellous job at beautifying the site, but it needs a lot more funding both in terms of new routes and station modernisation.

Hopefully though in a few years, this is one of those railway stations which would have been transformed.