A History of Effingham Junction Station

A History of Effingham Junction Station

Many people may not realise that there are two railway stations in East Horsley, which is unusual for a village with a population of around 4,500. The second station is Effingham Junction, which despite its name, has always been in East Horsley.

The line our two stations are on was a late addition to the British rail network. When it was built in 1885 there were already over 13,500 miles of track in Britain run by over 100 competing railway companies in a non-standardised patchwork railway system. First mooted in the 1860s, the New Line as it was called which goes from Guildford to Surbiton via Cobham only happened after two local wealthy aristocrats started lobbying for it. They were William Noel-King, 1st Earl of Lovelace whose seat was at Horsley Towers and William Hillier, 4th Earl of Onslow whose seat was Clandon Park. Their motivation was not altruistic but personal. The New Line would provide a cheaper and quicker carrier of their agricultural products and they could sell some of their land for it to be built on and then for the houses that would inevitably follow.

Competing ideas and interests had to be reconciled before a compromise route was put through Parliament as the London South Western Railway Act 1881. The company Lucas and Aird was appointed to build it and in 1882 hundreds of navvies arrived to start construction, setting up their temporary camp initially in Guildford. The line opened in 1885 and this part of Surrey was suddenly catapulted into the modern railway era.

Smart modern brick-built station buildings, including the one at East Horsley, were constructed and are still in use today. But at Effingham Junction there was only a signal box. The original Act of Parliament had included a station between Horsley and Stoke D’Abernon/Cobham, but the railway company did not think there would be sufficient demand for it. There had also been ideas of other branch lines from Effingham Junction including one going north to Downside but the only one built was via Bookham to Leatherhead.

Effingham Junction finally got its station after the involvement in 1885 of another well-connected aristocrat, James Mackenzie, who owned the Hatchford Park estate nearby. The station cost £1,382 and opened on 2 July 1888, being called Effingham Junction to distinguish it from the existing Horsley station. However, the company was not sure it would be viable and hedged its bet by using prefabricated wooden buildings that could be moved elsewhere if the station was unsuccessful. The station also had no concourse, carpark or goods yard unlike the other stations. The prefabricated buildings were only replaced in 2012 with the current structures.

In its early years, the station had more passengers at weekends than in the week. Effingham village is 1½ miles away and its population then was only 585. Bookham Station was as close and had better access and facilities. Effingham Common Road was just a dirt track. There were then few houses on the Horsley side of Effingham Junction. What saved it was its popularity with Londoners keen to get out of the city at the weekend and it became a ramblers’ station with a café opening next to it.

The large carriage shed was added in the mid-20th century where there was already a siding. King George VI spent at least one night there in the royal train during the Second World War when, because of enemy raids, it was too dangerous for the train to travel after dark. The engine shed is currently operated by Colas Rail as a maintenance base for Network Rail.

With more houses being built and increased car use in the early 20th century, a small car park was built in 1935 on land on the eastern side of Effingham Common Road given to Effingham Parish Council by the lord of the manor. A larger car park on the current site replaced it in the late 1940s, where there were also houses for railway workers and the station master. These were all demolished in 1988 when the carpark was enlarged to its current size.

Effingham Junction’s annual passenger numbers peaked at 300,000 in 2017/8 but have fallen since the Covid pandemic and only recovered to 150,000 in 2021/2. Similarly, the carpark was often over capacity pre-Covid but is operating at below capacity since.

In 1929 the journey time from Effingham Junction to Waterloo Station was 36 minutes. The standard return fare was 5s 6d and the off-peak fare 2s 9d. In 2024 the journey time is generally 45 minutes and a standard fare is £22.60 and £18.40 for off-peak. Such is progress.

This article was written by Vivien White, a local historian and member of the Friends of Effingham Junction Station, part of East Horsley Parish Council’s Railway Task Group. Vivien is also Chairman of the Effingham Residents Association (EFFRA) and a longer history of the station with more photographs can be found on EFFRA’s website https://effinghamresidents.org.uk/effingham-junction-railway-station Vivien thanks Stephen Spark for his help in researching the history of the station.

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