Wickham Market/Campsea Ashe: Why is a railway station named after a village miles away?
13:00 21 May 2014
Renewed calls have been made to rectify a naming misnomer which has been a source of confusion and complaint for more than 150 years.
Michael Bond, county councillor for Wickham Market and Campsea Ashe, is revisiting the thorny issue of why a train station in his ward takes its name from a village three miles away. “It exhibits some of the most appalling aspects of the way we do things in Britain,” he said. “We have a totally absurd situation where Wickham Market is three miles away from the station in Campsea Ashe and yet the station takes its name from Wickham Market.
“This means passengers wanting to go to Wickham Market, look it up on the timetable and in good faith board a train which they expect to stop at their destination. When they get out at the station, what do they find? They are in the middle of Campsea Ashe and there are no buses or taxis. They have to walk three miles along a twisty road, which for a long stretch has no pavement at all, and many are forced to turn back fearing for their lives in the dark.”
The naming irregularity is thought to have arisen due to the importance of Wickham Market as an industrial centre at the time when the railway was rolled out across east Suffolk.
Robert Webb, who has researched the history of the line during his work on a local heritage project, said laying tracks directly through the village, which lies at the top of a hill surrounded by marshy land, would have cost an “absolute fortune”. Instead, he explained, the engineers chose to run it through Campsea Ashe, keeping the name of Wickham Market due to its higher status.
Complaints about the naming date back to 1860 – just months after the line was opened – when the village rector, Jermyn Pratt, was recorded as having written to the railway authority demanding it to be changed to Campsea Ashe.
Similar requests made over the years have been repeatedly dismissed due to the costs involved. Network Rail said changing a station name can cost “up to £1 million” as it involves “technical issues” with signal boxes, display boards, timetables and public announcements.
Despite these claims, Mr Bond said he remains determined to bring an end to the “deception and danger” of the misleading name and has raised the issue with the Department for Transport. He is now seeking support from parish councils to add weight to their case and will be calling for Greater Anglia to fund the project.
A spokesman for Greater Anglia said “We have no current plans to change the name of Wickham Market station. However, we are always happy to listen to local opinion and to keep things under review.”