On 24 April 2015, the Epping Ongar Railway celebrated 150 years to the day since the Great Eastern Railway opened the line from Loughton to Ongar.
The Railway welcomed guests from the Epping Ongar Railway Volunteer Society, children from the Chipping Ongar Primary School, Mr Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Cllr Tony Boyce, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, and David Campbell Bannerman MEP amongst others.
At 10:40 a packed train arrived at Ongar from North Weald to brass music, children waving flags and cheers from the crowd. This was followed by speeches by Mr Pickles, Cllr Boyce, Mr Campbell Bannerman MEP and Mr Roger Wright, Managing Director of the Epping Ongar Railway. This was followed by the unveiling of a commerative plaque at Ongar Station.
Roger Wright, Managing Director said,
“Everyone has worked very hard to restore the line to its present condition over the past few years. However today, when I see the tremendous support there is for the Railway, especially after we have nudged that much closer to Epping Station, I look forward to the next 150 years with pride and to the day when we have a connection with the Underground at Epping.”
The official ceremony was followed by a three day special ‘Eastern Steam Gala’ celebrating the steam locomotives that would have run over the lines operated by the Great Eastern Railway and its successors. This event was a great success and attendance at the event was very high.
Dean Walton, Business Development Manager said,
“We knew it was important to mark this event and hoped that it would be a fantastic three days and it has been. We are delighted by the support from enthusiasts and local people. The Railway is holding a second 150th Anniversary-themed event at the end August which will be a Victorian Bank Holiday Weekend.
Dave Horsley, Chief Mechanical Engineer, said:
“The steam crews have worked hard over the past three days to an intensive timetable. We have all enjoyed working the visiting locomotives, the J72, Y7 and N2. The N2 will stay with us until late August.”
“My attention is now turning to our ‘Western’ – themed gala on 5-7 June. We have already confirmed 7820 ‘Dinmore Manor’, the GWR Pannier Tank 6430. I am in discussions with the owners of a third locomotive but can’t confirm which loco that is yet.”