Brentwood and Ongar constituency has a high number of commuters travelling daily to and from work and school from our four stations – Ingatestone, Brentwood, Shenfield and West Horndon – not to forget those of us who travel from the West of the constituency using Epping or Theydon Bois.
With no disrespect to the other stations, I think Ingatestone commuters get the best deal in terms of the historic beauty of this little village transport hub. So last week I was delighted to join rail enthusiasts, local residents, the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Mayor of Brentwood and at least two Lords, to celebrate Ingatestone Station’s 175th anniversary.
Ingatestone Station opened in 1844 and, on the insistence of Lord William Petre through whose land the railway ran, was built in a Tudor-style which reflected Lord Petre’s home, Ingatestone Hall.
As a key transport link for the village, Ingatestone Station is busy throughout the week and weekends. Many school children use it when travelling to and from the Anglo European School and the school’s musicians were on hand to entertain the guests as we milled about in the sunshine, eating cake and exchanging rail travellers’ tales. Many people spoke of how the excellent team at the station know many commuters by name and from a local resident in his eighties about how he used to come down to watch the steam trains and return home stinking of coal smoke. Ingatestone station may be a place people go to embark on or return from their travels - but last Sunday it was a place which became a destination in itself.
Ingatestone may not be on your regular rail route, but I can certainly recommend a visit, if not to travel then to admire this historic gem in our midst.