Station on heritage railway
Ongar station after re-opening in 2012
General information
LocationChipping Ongar, Epping Forest
Coordinates51°42′32″N 0°14′34″E / 51.70889°N 0.24278°E / 51.70889; 0.24278
Grid referenceTL550034
Operated byEpping Ongar Railway
Original companyGreat Eastern Railway
Pre-groupingGreat Eastern Railway
Post-groupingLondon and North Eastern Railway
Key dates
24 April 1865 (1865-04-24)Station opened
25 September 1949Transferred to LT Central line
18 November 1957Electrified
18 April 1966Goods yard closed[1]
30 September 1994Station closed
November 2004Reopened in preservation by Epping Ongar Railway Volunteer Rail Society
December 2007Station closed
25 May 2012Reopened by Epping Ongar Railway

Ongar railway station is a station on the Epping Ongar Railway heritage line, and a former London Underground station in the town of Chipping Ongar, Essex. It was opened in 1865 by the Great Eastern Railway, and became part of London Transport in 1949. Until its closure as such in 1994, it was the easternmost point of the Central line and the eastern buffers remain the point from which all distances on the London Underground are measured.


9 March 1957, Ongar station still served with steam traction
Ongar station in April 1977
London Underground train calls at the station in 1980
Ongar station, with the sign of the present operator, Epping Ongar Railway (EOR)

The station was opened by the Great Eastern Railway on 24 April 1865,[2] serving principally as a goods station taking agricultural produce from the nearby farms into central London. On 25 September 1949, London Underground services took over the operation of the station from British Railways when services were extended from Loughton.[2]

Although the rest of the branch was electrified by London Underground before operations were taken over from British Railways, trains on the section north of Epping continued to be hauled by steam locomotives as a separate shuttle service. The service was operated by British Railways for the Underground until 18 November 1957, when the line was electrified and electric trains took over from steam.[3] The low power supply prevented the Epping to Ongar section being fully integrated into the line and it continued to operate as a shuttle service.[4]

The entire Epping to Ongar branch was a single track line with one passing place at North Weald station, although this loop was taken out of service between 1888 and 1949, and again from 1976. Between 1949 and 1976 two Tube trains could use the branch, although they were limited to four cars in length because of the restriction on the available traction current, as well as by the restricted platform lengths at North Weald and Blake Hall. The service was reduced to one train after the southbound track at North Weald was lifted. It was therefore never suitable for heavy use, and the line was reportedly never profitable. For much of its latter years, the service only operated during Monday to Friday peak hours, and London Transport closed Blake Hall station, the least used on the entire system, in 1981. The line itself continued in use and there was a brief re-introduction of all day services in 1990. However, a system wide cost-cutting exercise saw the service return to peak hours soon afterwards, with an even more skeletal service than before. The line was under threat of closure for many years, and it was finally closed on 30 September 1994.

Epping Ongar Railway

Ongar station as part of the Epping Ongar Railway

Main article: Epping Ongar Railway

The station and the line are now in the ownership of a private company, Epping Ongar Railway Ltd who, at time of purchase, publicly stated their intention to run commuter services again, but the claimed lack of platform availability at London Underground's Epping station at the west end of the line has to date proven an insuperable obstacle to this. The Epping Ongar Railway Volunteer Rail Society ran heritage trains on Sundays over the former Epping and Ongar line from 2004 until 2007, when the line was closed following a change in ownership.[5]

EOR totem

The line was reopened to the public on 25 May 2012.[6]

Ongar Station, as with the rest of the 6.05-mile branch reaching to the outskirts of Epping station, is currently[timeframe?] undergoing significant improvement and infrastructure works. These are designed with the long-term future of the branch and to enable the use of locomotive-hauled trains (hauled by steam and diesel locomotives), all in keeping with its use as a heritage railway. The station itself has been extensively restored by the teams of volunteers, with all the rooms being restored to their original layouts, opening up bricked up doorways and windows, and restoring the station to Great Eastern Railway colours (believed to be the only original operational GER station in its original colours). Within the station the former Parcels Office will be a museum and educational display.

In addition a GER signalbox, originally located at Spellbrook, has been rescued and rebuilt to replace the Ongar signalbox demolished by LU in the 1980s, and the platform is being improved to facilitate access.

Local bus services connecting Ongar railway station to Brentwood, Chelmsford, Epping and Harlow are provided by NIBS Buses, Central Connect and First Essex. The station is also occasionally served by heritage bus route 339, operated by the Epping Ongar Railway, which serves the Shenfield, Ongar and Epping stations using a fleet of preserved London Transport buses.[7]

Other information

The sand drag at the very end of the rails — intended to help slow trains that overshot the stopping mark — was said to be home to a breed of harmless scorpion and featured in a 1979 episode of the BBC's Wildlife on One. They had been released there by a station foreman who was a keeper of exotic pets.[8][9] The sand drag has since been removed. A scorpion has since been sighted in the wild, ten miles north of Ongar, in April 2010, although this is thought to be unrelated.[10]

In 1971–72 the London underground network was remeasured in kilometres using Ongar as its zero point.[11][12][13]

The Royal Navy's Tigerfish torpedo was known as Project ONGAR during development.[14]

There were various ill-fated attempts mainly by the Great Eastern Railway later the London and North Eastern Railway to extend beyond Ongar station in the past including to Great Dunmow, Bury St Edmunds via Great Dunmow and back on to the GER mainline at Chelmsford by way of Margaretting. There was also a few light railway schemes like the Hedingham & Long Melford Railway and others that proposed a route from Ongar to Yeldham at Great Yeldham via Great Dunmow, Haverhill and Shenfield. [15] [16] [17]

See also


  1. ^ Hardy 2011, pp. 175-183.
  2. ^ a b Feather, Clive (31 March 2011). "Central line, Dates". Clive's Underground Line Guides. Retrieved 18 March 2008.
  3. ^ Lee 1970, p. 31.
  4. ^ Feather, Clive (31 March 2011). "Central Line, History". Clive's Underground Line Guides. Retrieved 18 March 2008.
  5. ^ Skinner, Paul (2011). "Epping Ongar Railway - Line history". Archived from the original on 22 April 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  6. ^ Thomas, Cliff (July 2012). Pigott, Nick (ed.). "Essex railway becomes Britain's newest steam line". The Railway Magazine. 158 (1335). Horncastle: Mortons Media Group: 9. ISSN 0033-8923.
  7. ^ O'Brien, Zoie (30 April 2013). "A bus which used to run the 339 route in Epping Forest is to return, this weekend". East London and West Essex Guardian Series. Retrieved 28 December 2022.
  8. ^ Lyons, James (20 January 2007). "Epping Ongar Railway History - Ongar station". Archived from the original on 8 July 2011.
  9. ^ Bowen, David (9 July 1995). "There's life in the old track yet". The Independent. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  10. ^ Snow, Keith (August 2010). "Scorpion found in the Ongar area" (PDF). Ongar Wildlife Society (16). Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  11. ^ Feather, Clive (2 April 2011). "Introduction - Kilometrage". Clive's Underground Line Guides. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  12. ^ Glover, John (2003). London Underground, 10th edition. Ian Allan. p. 109. ISBN 0-7110-2935-0.
  13. ^ Glover, John (2011). London Underground, 11th edition. Ian Allan. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-7110-3429-7.
  14. ^ Public Record Office ADM 290/289
  15. ^ Jackson, Alan A (22 March 1999). London's Local Railways (2nd ed.). Capital Transport Publishing. ISBN 1854142097.
  16. ^ Abercrombie, Patrick (1 January 1944). Greater London plan 1944. H.M. Stationery Off.
  17. ^ "THE COLONEL 65 Winter 2001" (PDF). Colonel Stephens Society.
  • Hardy, Brian, ed. (March 2011). "How it used to be - freight on The Underground 50 years ago". Underground News (591). London Underground Railway Society: 175–183. ISSN 0306-8617.
  • Lee, Charles Edward (1970). Seventy Years of the Central. London: London Transport. ISBN 0-85329-013-X.
Heritage railways
North Weald   Epping Ongar Railway   Terminus
Historical railways
Preceding station London Underground Following station
Blake Hall
towards Epping
Central line
Epping-Ongar branch
Blake Hall
Line open, station closed
  Great Eastern Railway