A station for Fairlop Airport?
- Credit: Archant
Fairlop plain is an extensive area created in the middle of the 19th century, following the destruction of Hainault Forest.
Much of the land was owned by the Crown.
In the late 1800s the Ilford district was growing at a ferocious pace.
Amazingly, its population rose from a relatively small 11,000 to 78,000 between 1891 and 1911.
The Great Eastern Railway had high hopes of the growth continuing across Fairlop plain with the new loop line from Ilford to Woodford, including stations at Barkingside, Fairlop and Hainault.
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The loop line opened to passengers in May 1903 with a planned service of 20 regular trains a day.
Where it ran across the plain, the new railway was raised on an embankment.
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There appear to have been big plans for the expansion of the area.
Historian George Tasker, writing in 1901, said: “At present its population is mainly rural, but the place is sure to develop.
“With a new electric tram system from Ilford, what is now land on which wheat oats and vegetables grow, will soon be covered with houses and contain a population exceeding many times that which now resides within it’s borders.”
There were two impressively palatial stations, Hainault and Fairlop, built within a quarter of a mile of each other.
Such opulent buildings were not being put to good use however – the daily number of passengers to and from them often could be counted on a person’s fingers.
The Great Eastern Railway directors soon made the decision to close Hainault Station, and this would take effect from September 1908, but as Hainault was not on Crown land the company were forced to preclude the agreement.
Fairlop reputably had just one season ticket holder before 1914.
But with the opening of a major arterial road to Southend in 1925, the borough swiftly acquired a further 84,00 inhabitants.
Such a sudden increase in population saw the newly created London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) draw up it’s New Works programme to incorporate the loop line into an extension of the Central line.