Borough's independent railway was the shortest in country! (And Sue has questions about museum storage!)

By Nub News Reporter

5th May 2024 | Local History

In the latest of her occasional features on local history, Susan Yates, chair of Thurrock Historic Society, remembers the Corringham Light Railway.


THE Corringham Light Railway served the villages of Corringham and Fobbing and was one of the shortest in the country at 2.75 miles. It was also unique because it operated without signals and remained independent throughout its entire life.

It all began in 1895 when G. Kynoch Ltd., a Birmingham based munitions company, wanted to build a factory in the South England and acquired Borley Farm near Shell Haven Creek.

It began production in 1897 with its new housing estate for 600 employees called Kynochtown. In 1898 it became necessary to build a railway link between Thames Haven and the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway (LT and SR) to bring in workers from Corringham.

The approximate costs was £48,000.

Under the Light Railway Act of 1896 application had to be made to the commissioners and permission granted before construction could be begun.

The application was made in the name of The Corringham Light Railway in November 1898 although owned and operated by Kynochs by law it had to be a separate company. The CLR was incorporated on 10th July 1899.

Work on the railway began in 1900. The first section ran from the factory to Thames Haven Station, this opened on 1st January 1901 to goods traffic only.

The passenger section of this station closed before the CLR opened. The final section of CLR was opened for passengers on 22nd June 1901.

Usage in the early years was low but with the advent of World War 1 and the need for munitions in 1914-1919 this increased dramatically.

With the end of the war the Kynoch factory closed down and use once again declined.

In 1921 the factory and the railway were sold to Cory Brothers Ltd., of Cardiff, coal merchants who were branching out into the oil storage business.

In 1930 the railway was carrying only 30 passengers per day as the road system (Manorway) had been improved allowing for use by buses.

During the 1939-45 war the railway was important again as it was used for transporting oil to Thames Haven Port. Prior to the invasion of Europe, large amounts of war materials were transported on the line.

Although the passenger service was reinstated on 8th November 1945 many workers by then were using the bus service so the rail passengers were mainly enthusiasts.

Corringham Station on the Fobbing Road was built of red brick with a ladies and a gents toilet, a bicycle shed and an open fronted shelter.

The platform originally 150 feet long was extended to 340 feet.

The line headed down hill passed two sidings which were closed in 1923. At the bottom of the hill the line ran over a bridge before crossing the Manorway at Ironlatch and then going straight for a mile or so before splitting at the triangular junction with the LT&SR and ultimately to Kynochtown/Coryton.

This station, while in a similar style to Corringham, was made of wood.

In 1950 Coryton Refinery was sold to the Vacuum Oil Company, which became Mobil.

The railway remained independent but Mobil owned all the shares.

The line from Thames Haven to Coryton was upgraded to mainline standard.

In 1952 an application was made to close the line and the last passenger train ran on 1st March 1952 at 12.20pm from Corringham to Coryton. The line was absorbed into Mobil Oil Company on 20th September 1971.

Very little is now left. The track bed is overgrown, the rolling stock etc. has all been destroyed except the final LT&SR carriage which was given to the Railway Vehicle Preservation Group at Great Central Railway in the 1970's.

Sadly, it was destroyed by fire though one door survived. It was restored and given to the East Anglian Railway Museum in 2012 for their Carriage and Wagon display.

To learn more about the railway visit:

I couldn't finish this column without mentioning the subject of the Carnegie Clock which for many years was stored at Coalhouse Fort as there was not suitable space available for it at the Thameside.

However, it now resides in the garage of the Thameside building.

Neither of these locations were really suitable for storing heritage artefacts.

I was recently made aware of the proposed new location for the museum with its capacity about one third of the current Thameside facility.

What concerns me is if the Carnegie clock has deteriorated beyond repair due to inappropriate storage what is the future for those artefacts that there will not be adequate space for at the proposed new venue? Only time will tell!


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