Blake Hall station was opened by the Great Eastern Railway on 1 April 1865, serving principally as a goods yard carrying agricultural produce from the nearby farms into London. It was named after Blake Hall, a country house located a mile or so to the northeast and inhabited by a family of substantial local landowners. The station was built as part of the landowner’s consent to build a railway through his land.
The nearest settlement is the village of Bobbingworth in Essex, approximately 24 miles northeast of Charing Cross.
The Ongar branch (Epping, North Wield, Blake Hall and Ongar) was taken over by the London Passenger Transport Board as part of their 1935 New Works Plan to extend tube lines to the outer suburbs.
Steam locomotives operated by British Railways for the Underground ran a shuttle service from Epping to Ongar, stopping at Blake Hall, from 1949 until 1957, when the line was electrified and taken over by the Underground’s Central line.
British Railways continued to run a freight service over the branch until 1966.
On 18 April 1966 the goods yard was closed and Blake Hall became a dedicated passenger station. On 17 October 1966, Sunday services were withdrawn.
Initially steam locomotives operated by British Railways for the Underground ran a shuttle service from Epping to Ongar from 1949 to 1957, when the line was electrified and taken over by the Underground’s Central Line.
Blake Hall became reputed as the least-used station on the entire Underground network. Fare subsidies provided on the rest of the system were not provided on this part of the line because local government agencies for Essex and London failed to agree on their respective public transport responsibilities, and Blake Hall station was located a considerable distance from any substantial settlement. By the time services were permanently discontinued on 31 October 1981, the station was reported to have only 17 passengers per day. The station was permanently closed down on 2 November 1981. The Epping to Ongar branch line was closed 13 years later, on 30 September 1994.
Blake Hall’s station building has since been converted into a private home. The small coal depot at the western end of the station was closed in the early 1960s, soon after the line’s electrification, and the passenger platform has been demolished.
The line passing the station site is now privately owned and operated as a heritage railway by the Epping Ongar Railway, and although the platform was reinstated in May 2012 this is for aesthetic purposes only, and the station remains closed.
This is a view westward (towards Epping) taken on 30 July 1961.
Photo: Ben Brooksbank